SACO — Last year, Hashilla Rivai stormed onto the Maine high school golf scene as a junior and captured an individual state championship.

This season, Rivai didn’t bring home an individual crown – she would finish third – but the standout was key to Thornton Academy’s run to the state team championship.

TA coach Jeff Camire believes having Rivai on the team the past two years helped every golfer in the program.

“Hashilla led by example. She’s very soft spoken and isn’t necessarily comfortable with the attention she’s received, but she is so calm on the course that I think it filtered down to the other players,” said Camire. “Greg Kalagias played with her this year and most of last year during matches, and I really think she had an impact on his game. Greg had another outstanding year and I think he enjoyed playing along side her for the past two years. I’ve said before that having her at the top of the lineup really pushed our talent down our order, which made us a very tough team to deal with.”

Camire believes Rivai got the attention of the rest of the state after her junior season.

“Hashilla wasn’t a surprise to the league this year, so all of our opponents were much more prepared to face her. This year she faced some very tough competition, which I felt was very good for her game,” said Camire.

One stat that shows how consistent Rivai has been on the course is the fact that she only had three holes this season where she shot worse than a bogey.

Camire believes that consistency comes from hard work.

“Hashilla is incredibly disciplined. She works on her golf game all the time. She hit balls two-to-three times per week all winter on simulators and was able to play in an AJGA event in Florida last April,” said Camire. “Her tournament experience really gave her an edge when she got here. She’s competed with some of the best junior golfers in the world and there is nothing that can simulate that kind of competition.”

Rivai’s work around the green set her apart from the competition, according to Camire.

“Hashilla has the best short game on the team. There’s really no secret to it. We have some very good golfers on our team, many of whom can hit the ball just as well, but she separates herself with her efficiency inside of 100 yards,” said Camire.

Camire is well aware of how tough it will be to replace Rivai, who is heading to Purdue to play golf next fall.

“I’m not sure I’ll ever have the opportunity to coach another golfer like Hashilla,” said Camire.

Journal Tribune Golf All-stars

MVP: Hashilla Rivai, Thornton Academy

Jason Vadnais, Biddeford

Kerry Crepeau, Biddeford

Riley Donovan, Thornton Academy

Greg Kalagais, Thornton Academy

Jonah Gauthier, Kennebunk

Nate Doody, OOB

Seamus McDonough, Wells

Caleb Roy, Massabesic

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