2012 NDN GIRLS GOLFER OF THE YEAR: Anastasia Talalenko, Gulf Coast

Corey Perrine/Staff Photo Illustration
Gulf Coast's Anastasia Talalenko, 17, is the 2012 girls golfer of the year. Taught by her father, Talalenko's passion of the game began at age 12. This year the senior placed 8th at the state tournament. As a junior she won the Florida PGA tournament in 2011. She's talented in the classroom boasting a 4.67 weighted grade point average. Talalenko hopes to walk on at Nova Southeast, UCF or UF to study biology or pre-dental. 'The biggest lessons golf has taught me is time management and patience,' Talalenko said. 'What's made me successful (in class and in golf) is telling myself, 'It's not good enough, I can do better' -- not settling.'

Photo by COREY PERRINE // Buy this photo

Corey Perrine/Staff Photo Illustration Gulf Coast's Anastasia Talalenko, 17, is the 2012 girls golfer of the year. Taught by her father, Talalenko's passion of the game began at age 12. This year the senior placed 8th at the state tournament. As a junior she won the Florida PGA tournament in 2011. She's talented in the classroom boasting a 4.67 weighted grade point average. Talalenko hopes to walk on at Nova Southeast, UCF or UF to study biology or pre-dental. "The biggest lessons golf has taught me is time management and patience," Talalenko said. "What's made me successful (in class and in golf) is telling myself, 'It's not good enough, I can do better' -- not settling."

Athletic directors from the 14 schools — Barron Collier, Community School, Estero, First Baptist, Golden Gate, Gulf Coast, Immokalee, Lely, Marco Island Academy, Naples, Palmetto Ridge, Seacrest, St. John Neumann and South Fort Myers — in the Daily News' coverage area were contacted and asked to have their coaches nominate players. That information, along with all-conference and all-district honors and postseason performances, were used to make up the teams and choose Players of the Year.

Sergei Talalenko wanted to get his two children involved in golf. Talalanko, who moved from Russia with his wife before Anastasia and Gregory were born, introduced his daughter to the game when she was 7.

Little did she know at the time what golf would mean to her.

Talalenko continued to play, but when she hit high school at Gulf Coast, things changed. She figured out this was something she was pretty good at doing.

"I think it clicked for me in high school," Talalenko said. "I realized that competitively I enjoyed the sport, and it was beyond just having fun. It was getting out there, meeting new people and competing."

Talalenko had some good people to model herself after. Emma Smyser was a year ahead of her, and Grace Rokela and Cheyenne Hemberger were in the same class as Talalenko. They grew close. And good.

Talalenko, whose brother Gregory is now 15, was part of a Gulf Coast team that made it to the Class 2A state tournament four years in a row.

"They consider themselves sisters," Gulf Coast coach Ana Gilliam said. "They have each other's backs the whole time."

Talalenko served notice as a junior, with top-five finishes at conference (second), districts (fourth), and regionals (fourth), and a team-best tie for 17th at state.

Talalenko followed up on that this year, winning conference, tying for second at districts, placing second at regionals, and tying for eighth at the state tournament.

"It was superb," Gilliam said of Talalenko's senior year. "She did an outstanding job. She was shooting in the 70s, which is really good. She was a true leader that whole season."

The state tournament finish was below Talalenko's expectations. She just couldn't put together a good enough final round, shooting an 80.

"My mental game was a little bit off," she said. "I messed up with my short game."

Talalenko would like to play college golf, but academics come first — "I had her in my class; she's top-notch as a student and top-notch as a golfer," Gilliam said.

Even though she has had offers at smaller schools, Talalenko is planning on going to either Florida or Nova Southeastern and majoring in biology and predental.

If everything works out, Talalenko would like to walk on the golf team.

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