WOOD RIVER — The Highland Bulldogs had a distinct advantage heading into the Mississippi Valley Golf Tournament on Thursday at Belk Park Golf Course.
At least in the mind of coach Caleb Houchins.
Jesse Johnson and Brock Portell shot rounds of 3-over-par 75 while Cam Loyet added an 80 as Highland battled tough playing conditions and a quality field to win its second straight MVC tournament title.
Highland finished with a 316 total to edge Triad (318) and Mascoutah (327). It was the Bulldogs' top three players who led the way.
"That's the way I look at it. We don't have one No. 1 player, or even two," Houchins said. "We have three. Jesse, Cam and Brock have been our leaders all year.
"These weren't easy playing conditions today. The winds kicked up this afternoon and made the greens very fast. But we've got some seniors on this team and we were able to remain consistent. I'm happy for our seniors. This is a nice way for them to go out.''
Brode Portell rounded out the top four scores with an 86.
"We have been much more consistent in the past couple of weeks and this is the time of year you want to be playing your best golf,'' Houchins added. "Hopefully we're peaking at the right time.''
Individual medalist Brayden Polansky and runner-up Austin Buente led the way for second- place Triad. Both Polansky and Buente shot rounds of 74 to force a sudden-death playoff.
It didn't last long, Polansky made a par on the par 4 first hole and Buente made a bogey to give Polansky the title.
Buente was bidding to join older brother Blaine Buente as an MVC champion. Blaine Buente shot 67 to win the 2012 MVC title.
Polansky didn't do anything fancy at Belk Park. Playing steady golf throughout, Polansky had 16 pars and two bogeys for his 74.
"I just tried to stay consistent today. I really wasn't feeling all that well when we got here this morning. But once I got on the course and started to play, I was fine,'' Polansky said. "My short game saved me today. I hit it close and made some putts. To win this title feels great.''
Mascoutah, getting a 77 from MZ Duprey, placed third with a 327, while Waterloo was fourth at 328.
Jerseyville (333) and Civic Memorial (346) rounded out the field.