The Highland High School girls golf team posted impressive victories in two home matches in three days at Highland Country Club.
First, on Monday, Aug. 28, Highland shot a four-player team score of 180 to beat Mater Dei (225) by 45 strokes.
Then on Wednesday, Aug. 30, the Bulldogs turned in a team score of 182 to edge Collinsville (189) by seven shots and eclipse Civic Memorial (200) by 18.
“We have had a pretty tough last week of golf,” said Highland coach Gina Hirsch, who will retire at the end of the season. “The girls are playing on their own this weekend and spending some family time together.”
Highland will play its last home match on Wednesday, Sept. 6 against Mississippi Valley Conference rival Triad and non-conference foe Belleville West.
Then the Bulldogs will have a tough weekend in which they will play two 18-hole tournaments in as many days. First up will be the O’Fallon Tournament at Tamarack in Shiloh on Friday, Sept. 8. That will be followed by the Alton Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 9 at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey.
HHS wins triangular match
Highland senior Gabi Berolatti fired a personal-best round of 4-over-par 40 to win match medalist honors and lead the Bulldogs to the victory over visiting Collinsville and CM.
Berolatti recorded six pars and should have had a seventh one on the ninth hole, but her putt that looked like it was going down lipped out.
“(Berolatti) really hit some straight drives that were really long,” Hirsch said. “I watched her first three holes and just let her go. She was in the zone, and she only had one three-putt tonight on hole two. All of her approach shots were pretty accurate. The most important thing is she is becoming more consistent with her scoring.”
Junior Audrey Wilke was next on the scoring pylon for the Bulldogs with a 43, which was highlighted by a birdie on the first hole.
“Audrey had a terrific hole one, where she recorded the one birdie of the night,” Hirsch said. “Audrey just crushes the ball off the tee, so it sets up a pretty easy third-shot approach. She is so enthusiastic about golfing well. Audrey has been putting in a lot of extra time, so I know she should be breaking 40 more often, especially on the longer courses.”
Hirsch said senior Rece Portell struggled after shooting a round of 47.
“(Portell) may be pressing a little to hard, but when you have a bad round, you just have to shake it off and relax,” Hirsch said. “Rece really cares about going low to help the team, and as a coach, it breaks your heart to see someone like her struggle in a match. I know how much effort these girls put in, so I have to keep reminding them it is just golf. We are going to have good rounds and bad rounds. The successful golfer will put bad rounds away and learn from them.”
Hirsch said another really bright was the play of freshman Claire Korte, who a shot a 52 and rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs.
“We have a little tweaking to do on her swing, but I am sure glad she has the golfing genes she does,” Hirsch said of Korte. “Her mom was a really good golfer that had to play on the boys team, because we didn’t have a girls team. Claire just needs to work on her swing plane at take away.”
Not scoring for the team but securing another personal best was junior Kennedy Klucker with a 53.
“Kennedy has a really pretty swing,” Hirsch said. “We are working on club placement, but she really listens well to what we tell her.”
Highland 180, Mater Dei 225
Two days earlier, Portell garnered match medalist honors with a 41 to help the Bulldogs carve up the visiting Knights by 45 strokes. She hit the ball well and led the team with 17 putts.
“Overall, (Portell) played a lot better tonight,” Hirsch said. “She was really struggling with her putter the last several matches, but tonight, she only had one three-putt. (Portell) is a competitor, and when she is struggling a little, she goes back and practices what she needs to work on.”
Berolatti and Wilke shot matching rounds of 44.
“Both girls were a little disappointed, because they have really been shooting well, and they head to the course as soon as the match is over to work on things,” Hirsch said. “Sometimes you just press a little too hard.”
Wilke led the team in birdies with two, including executing the shot of the night on the first hole. After going into the hazard and taking a drop, she then hit a wedge onto the green, and it slowly rolled right into the cup.
“The parents went crazy seeing that shot,” Hirsch said. “I have never holed one out that far, so that is quite an accomplishment.”
Junior Geena Budwell rounded out Highland’s team score with a 51.
“The 40s were staring at her but a double bogey on the last hole hurt her,” Hirsch said.