On the Fast Track
By Carey Fox, Sports Editor
Over the year and a half that I've had the pleasure of covering Clay County athletics, I've had the opportunity to see quite a few talented athletes. But few have been as much fun or had as much success as the Northview High School girls golf team.
Coach Teresa Akers' squads the past two years have not only been among some of the best in the state, but have contained some of the most interesting and fun athletes I've been around.
While last year's team had statistically more success with an eighth place finish in the state championship tournament, this year's group was just as great a group to know and to write about.
For those of you who are statistic nuts like myself, the two graduating seniors on this team, Kelsey Smith and Amy Thieman helped put up some daunting numbers over their careers.
Over the last four years the girls have a 25-2 home mark at Forest Park Golf Course along with a perfect 63-0 mark in the Western Indiana Conference. The team was also WIC champs all four years with five girls making the All-Conference team each year.
They won two sectionals and were second a pair of times, won a regional and placed second a pair of times to go along with a 17th place finals appearance in 2000, their eighth place in 2002 and this year's 12th place finish. All in all the squad has rapidly been built into one of the state's top programs in short order.
Thiemann will go down as one of the best athletes Northview has ever produced regardless of the sport. She follows on the heels of Northview graduates Melissa Penman and Jennifer McDonald who helped pave the way for Thiemann's interest in the sport.
According to her father Mark, Amy began playing the sport just three months before her freshman season after following the coverage of Penman and McDonald in the news.
The rest as they say is history.
Thiemann tied for the second best score on the state finals team as a freshman and, along with sophomore Jenni Dragan, would set up the Knights best state finish in 2002.
Dragan would finish 25th as an individual with a 36-hole score of 174 while Thiemann would add a 168, good for 16th in the state.
Kelsey Smith was a member of that run to the finals over the past two seasons and will graduate along with Thiemann this Spring.
Despite a multitude of knee problems that required surgery and occasionally left her near tears after a round because of the pain, Smith kept a smile on her face the past two years. She is a testament to diligence and work ethic that few possess.
Brittany Cheek would start to make her presence known as a sophomore on that 2002 team when she shot a 194 on The Legends Course in Franklin.
That was a harbinger of things to come as Cheek moved up the leaderboard this year with her 16th place finish at 166 which is a testament to the coaching of Akers and the hard work that Cheek and the rest of team puts in over the summer and the course of the season.
While Thiemann hopes to take her game to the next level at college. Cheek will take the leadership reigns next year with a group of talented young golfers fronted by freshmen Millie Akers and Madison Kirchner who this year were members of the state finals team.
While there are few jobs that can rival one whose description includes spending an afternoon walking a golf course. My job was made all the more enjoyable by "co-workers" whose personalities are so bright and amiable.
My hat is off to Coach Akers for not only helping to teach these girls the skills of the game but to their parents as well for instilling these girls with the wonderful traits they possess on the course and off.