Three seniors to lead new era for Tallmadge girls golf team

FRANK ACETO Reporter

The good news is, the Tallmadge girls golf team lost just one senior to graduation.

The bad news?

That graduate happened to be a once-in-a-generation talent.

The Blue Devils will begin the post-Lizzie Bickar era this fall. Bickar, who is now a member of Indiana State University’s women’s golf team, was a two-time Division I district qualifier for Tallmadge. She also won a sectional title last fall and was the Blue Devils’ top player for the last four years.

However, when it comes to fourth-year Tallmadge head coach Brett Bickar, his attitude might be something like this: “Out with the old, in with the new.”

Thus, a new face or possibly, new faces will be asked to continue the Blue Devils’ progression, which has been quite remarkable in recent years.

The Blue Devils won a total of 12 matches during the past two seasons, which included victories over a few of their Suburban League American Conference rivals. Such a fact may have seemed laughable not long ago.

Not any more.

“Part of the tryout program has been setting goals,” Campbell said. “We have process goals, performance goals and team goals. They know that we’ve won matches in the past. They know about the expectations we have.”

Tallmadge finished 5-4 overall and captured fifth place in the American Conference, which is led by perennial powerhouses Kent Roosevelt, the defending champion, and Highland.

While finding a clone of Bickar may be an impossible task, the Blue Devils have a special trio that expects to lead the way throughout the season.

They are fourth-year seniors Gia Currey, Hannah Fiume and Chloie Brown.

“We have three incredible senior leaders,” Campbell said. “Gia was our No. 2 last year. I expect her to have a great year. Hannah had a really good summer. She hits the ball really solid off the tees and with the irons. Chloie has a great attitude. She knows her strengths and weaknesses and continues to get better.”

The lone junior on the team is Katie Michalec, who may take a little longer than others to reach her destination once she makes contact.

“Katie had a fantastic summer,” Campbell said. “She’s a long-ball hitter. She’s very strong and hits the ball hard. She just needs to get her short game in place.”

The sophomore class comprises Cameron Lantz, Emma Lally and Ashlyn Lohr.

“Cameron and Emma have shown much improvement over last year,” Campbell said. “You can tell that they put work in on their own, which is vital. Ashlyn has improved her ball-striking immensely since last year.”

The lone freshman on the team is Becca Riter, who could make an immediate impact if all goes well.

“Becca is new to the game,” Campbell said. “She has great potential. Her swing is very athletic. It’s just a matter of confidence with her.”

Campbell’s assistant is first-year coach Ali Eads, a Revere graduate who played golf at The Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta.

“Ali has an exceptional background,” Campbell said. “She was a very good player and is very knowledgeable about the swing. She will be a great influence on the players.”

Due to a deadly respiratory tract infection known as COVID-19, a number of sports have been put on hiatus for the last 4 ½ months.

Fortunately, the course has been a safe haven for many golfers. And that includes those who are fond of blue and gold colors.

“We’re excited,” Campbell said. “We have something to look forward to.”

Tallmadge is scheduled to make its 2020 debut at the first of the four Suburban League tournaments Thursday at Glen Eagles Golf Club in Twinsburg. Play is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @Faceto_Gannett.