HIGHLAND | Allison Banasiak knew she'd be filling a big void left by the graduation of Brianne Torrenga.
When Banasiak was named the Trojans' No. 1 golfer, she knew the spotlight would be on her.
Couple that with the goal to improve upon last season's heartbreaking finish, and the equation is a golfer determined to succeed.
Last season, Banasiak played in Highland's No. 2 spot and missed a LaPorte Regional qualifying spot by a single stroke. After struggling somewhat in Monday's Bishop Noll Sectional at Lost Marsh, Banasiak carded a 90, good enough to earn her first regional trip.
"Senior year, I definitely did want to go to regionals," Banasiak said. "I've dropped (on average) 10 strokes on 18 holes every year for the last three years."
Part of that improvement has been a stronger mental game, which coach Tom Brankin credits for Banasiak's best success on 18 hole rounds, where she averaged an 87 this season.
"I think her ability to not let early bad shots affect her whole round (has improved)," Brankin said. "That's why I think her average over 18 holes is better than over nine holes (49). A year ago, if she had a bad shot early in a round she'd put pressure on herself to make up for it. This year, we talked about taking shots as they come. She's good enough to make birdies later in rounds to make up for it."
Banasiak has also improved in her driving distance; she can hit about 235 yards, as opposed to 210 last year. As a manager for the boys golf team last spring, Banasiak golfed against the Trojans often, presenting her with greater challenges than she's used to.
"Playing with the boys helped a lot because they didn't think I was competitive," she said. "I really am, and I think that helped boost my confidence because I could beat the boys. I was playing from the guys' tees, so that was fun. It was a different kind of challenge."
Highland has only had a girls golf team since 2005, so having girls like Banasiak and Torrenga come through the program has been important to its growth.
"I think her and Brianne have set a tone for other girls, that if they put in hard work, there's something out there for them," Brankin said.
Banasiak, who admitted she got a little worked up for sectionals this season, feels a greater sense of calmness going into Saturday's LaPorte Regional.
"There's a lot of people who I don't know (at the regional), so that helps because I don't know how they play," Banasiak said. "I knew who I had to look out for (at the sectional)."