Highland junior golfer Rece Portell refound her swing to card a solid round of 7-over-par 43 and capture medalist honors, while fellow junior Gabi Berolatti also shot a sub-50 round to post her season-best score in a triangle match Wednesday at the par-36 Highland Country Club.
After struggling a bit in her previous couple of outings, Portell hit the ball a lot better against Waterloo and Columbia on Wednesday than she had been. Her round of 43 was two shots better than runner-up Makensy Umscheid of Waterloo and was highlighted by a birdie on the first hole. She tagged a long drive and then hit an accurate second shot to put herself in great position to drop a shot on her scorecard.
“Her drives were really on point but she struggled with the approach shot to the green,” Highland coach Gina Hirsch said. “Rece is just a natural athlete and some days are better than others but she just continues to battle on the course which is what makes her such a competitor.”
Also for the Lady Bulldogs, Berolatti also was on her game as she shot a 48 to lower her best round of the season by two strokes.
“Another best happened for Gabi tonight with a season-low 48,” Hirsch said. “She just hit a lot of really consistent shots tonight. She hit a great chip on hole 6 from the right side of the green and then two-putted.”
Portell and Berolatti helped Highland turn in a new team season-low round of 193 and finish second in the ultra-tight triangle match in which all three squads finished within five shots of one another.
Waterloo won the match with a team score of 189. Highland finished just four strokes off the pace with a 193 and Columbia was only a single shot behind HHS at 194.
“Tonight we shot our best round of the season which was great, but, more importantly, they never give up,” Hirsch said. “When they have bad shots, they let them go and get ready to focus on the next shot. We have from now to Wednesday (Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament at Belk Park) to get a little more consistent. This team has so much talent who knows what can happen.”
Rounding out Highland’s team score of 193 were sophomore Audrey Wilke (50) and junior Kayla Davis (52).
“Kayla also played better today,” Hirsch said. “She shot six strokes better and hit a lot of good shots off the tee. She has been chipping a lot better which really showed tonight.”