The IndyStar is proud to announce this year’s Indiana high school girls golf Player of the Year: Alexis Miestowski from Lake Central.
Miestowski finished her sophomore year as the individual medalist in the state finals. She blew the competition away, finishing 3-under par with a 69 at Prairie View Golf Club in Carmel, six strokes better than anyone else.
The player of the year is selected by IndyStar staff in consultation with golf coaches from around the state.
Question: How did you get started with golf?
Answer: My three main sports when I was younger were basically basketball, softball and golf. Golf was never super serious to me until I was 11 or 12. I stopped playing softball when I was 13 because my parents made me quit one of my summer sports. I was obviously better at golf, but I was 12, so it’s not like I was looking to play a lot. I kept playing basketball and golf, and then this is my first year not playing basketball because I’m going to focus on golf. My mom and dad would always go to the driving range when I was little, and I would just swing a club and developed a decent swing. My parents then got me lessons and (golf) kind of started like that for me.
Q: What do you attribute to the change between your freshman year and sophomore year?
A: Last year, everyone was expecting me to play well, which I did during my regular season. I think I averaged a 75 during the regular season. (She finished 26th in the state meet with a 81-85—166.) This year I was averaging 68. I have been working a lot more this past year; really been practicing a lot and playing in bigger tournaments (such as the Jeff Overton American Junior Golf Association, where she finished sixth after the first two days) to get more exposure. It just helps you with experience and with the different situations you are in. It helps build your confidence. I know that going into my high school season that I just played these girls from all over the country in these huge tournaments, and now I have to go into a high school tournament and I get to play my best. I think it was the bigger tournaments that I played in a lot this year that gave me a lot more experience.
Q: What is your train of thought going into each meet?
A: I try not to overwhelm myself, and all I think about is the shot that I’m hitting, even on the first hole. It’s really hard. Even on the last hole you have to think about what you have to do to play well. I just really try to take it one shot at a time, and I try not to overwhelm myself with thoughts. I have to focus on the shot that I’m on or the next one won’t be good. I try not to think, but it’s kind of hard.
Q: Emotionally and mentally, how have you been able to deal with the high standard you have set?
A: It’s kind of hard. I did win all of the invites I was in but two of them. And in those two I was second. I didn’t go into any of them thinking that I was going to win at all. Last year, I placed in a couple of them, but nothing like I did this year. I went into them thinking, “I want to put up a good score and I’ll be up there,’ but I never thought I was going to win that many. I think part of how I did that was because I didn’t go into it saying ‘I’m going to win.”
Q: How have your parents shown their support?
A: My parents are my support system and the only reason I’ve become who I am today. They’ve been doing their best to make me my best. It means a lot, because I know a lot of parents wouldn’t do that. They’ve put in a lot of time and effort carting me around every single day, every single weekend in the summer. They are so happy for me. I honestly think they are more excited for me than I am. They still wake me up like, “Good morning, State Champ.” It’s just funny.
Q: What does winning the state title mean to you?
A: I don’t know, honestly. For the next couple of days after, and even the day that it happened, it didn’t really sink in. My whole idea of state before I went was I thought if I won, I was going to be neck-and-neck with the next girl, and I’d have to birdie-out or something. But I didn’t think of it like that when I was there. It’s super exciting for me to win as a sophomore, but now the expectation is going to be even higher for me next year.
Q: What were some of your personal highlights from the season?
A: Last year, I was hitting the ball pretty far. But I wanted to get stronger. I conditioned a lot last year and during the season. But I gained 30 yards in my driver (this year), and I don’t understand how. All of my irons had been going maybe 10 yards farther, but my driver is going 265 (yards) now. It was kind of hard during the first couple of weeks of the season, because I would have some really awkward distances into the hole that I had never had before, so I had to work on that. But I’m actually really happy with the way that I was hitting my driver all season, because I never expected that I would be able to hit it that far. People come up to me and are like, “Wow, you’re the girl who won state? I expected you to be 6-1.” Last year I was 4-11, and now I’m 5-3.
Q: What are your future goals and college plans?
A: My grandparents went to the University of Texas, and I’ve been going to all the home football games there since I was 3, and I’ve been to their golf camp. So that’s probably where I would want to go, but it’s not set. I have definitely expanded my horizons in the past year.
Q: Who are some of your role models in the sport?
A: My favorite player on the LPGA is Alexis “Lexi” Thompson, because she is the youngest girl to ever go onto the LPGA. I just really like her practicing and swinging techniques.
Follow Star reporter Jennifer R. Brugh on Twitter: @JenniferRBrugh.