The Highland High School boys golf team had a hugely successful week that began with back-to-back victories to stay uneaten in head-to-head matches before going on to post strong finishes in two tournaments, including conquering the conference championship for the first time in five years.
First, on Monday, Sept. 18 at the par-36 Highland Country Club, Highland and Mater Dei had a rare occurrence when both teams tied with identical four-man team scores of 165. However, the Bulldogs earned the win on a fifth-scorer tiebreaker.
Next, on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at Highland Country Club, Highland shot a strong team score of 157 to beat visiting Collinsville (193) by 36 shots.
The Bulldogs kept their head-to-head record spotless on the season at 17-0.
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On Thursday, Highland turned in its best four-man team score in several years with a 315 to take the Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament championship by 26 strokes over runners-up Triad and Waterloo (341) at Belk Park Golf Course.
Finally, on Saturday, Highland took third at the Centralia Orphan Invitational.
HHS wins MVC crown
On Saturday at the par-72 Belk Park, Highland won the MVC for the first time since 2012 after carding an outstanding team score of 315, which was 33 strokes better than last year’s score of 348 and was 26 shots in the clear of runners-up Triad and Waterloo, which tied with matching scores of 341.
Rounding out the conference field were Mascoutah (367), Jerseyville (386) and Civic Memorial (390).
Senior Brandon Munie was crowned the MVC’s overall individual champion after topping the entire field with an awesome round of 1-over-par 73, which was his personal-best 18-hole round in a tournament while at Highland High School.
“It started off as just a solid day, and then before I knew it, I found myself with back-to-back birdies on the back nine holes, and I knew I was setting myself up to possibly win medalist,” Munie said. “Walking off the 18th green was probably the proudest moment of high school for me, just because I knew I was most likely going to finally be a champion at my last conference. I was also extremely proud of the rest of the team who posted solid scores to round out our best four-man score in probably at least three to four years.”
Highland coach Brent James said it was really great to see Munie bounce back after a little slip the previous week at the O’Fallon Invitational at Tamarack Country Club in Shiloh.
The Bulldogs had five scorers shoot an 82 or better to all place in the top six at the MVC meeet, and even Highland’s sixth and final member placed 11th overall.
“The rest of the team played well, also,” James said. “The whole team earned individual all-conference honors and you have to be in the top 12 to earn all conference. I’ve never coached a team where all six players earned all-conference and can’t remember seeing that before. The boys have put in a lot of hard work this year, and I’m glad their efforts were rewarded today.”
Senior lefty Ben Brauns earned second place with a 79. Also placing high on the leaderboard were freshman Evan Sutton, fourth place with an 81; senior lefty Connor Pinsker, fifth place with an 82; junior Dylan Bargetzi, sixth place with an 82; and senior Stephen Schniers, 11th place with an 86.
Waterloo’s Tre Wahlig came in third place with an 80.
Triad had three golfers earn all-conference recognition, led by Cameron Lambert in seventh place with an 82. Also earning all-conference honors for the Knights were Ryan Larson, 10th place with an 84, and Destin Patek, 12th place with an 87.
The Bulldogs placed third as a team and were led by Baruns and Munie, who joined forces to take fourth place with a team score of 75.
“Ben (Brauns) and Brandon (Munie) shot one stroke lower than they did last year when they won,” James said. “The other two twosomes posted lower scores as well. I was really happy with how the boys played. The back nine was playing pretty difficult, and the boys grinded it out. It’s nice to give the boys a chance to play in pairs and have some fun together. It breaks up the season and helps keep them loose before heading into the final stretch.”
Also for Highland, Pinsker and Schniers shot a 77, and Bargetzi and Sutton finished with a 78.
HHS 157, Collinsville 193
At its own par-36 nine-hole Highland Country Club, all four of the Bulldogs’ scorers shot under Collinsville’s leading scorer.
Highland was led by Brauns who won medalist honors with a strong round of 1-over-par 37.
The Bulldogs also received a 39 from Munie, a 40 from Pinsker and a 41 from Schniers.
“The boys played well under tough conditions,” James said. “The wind was a factor and the greens were very quick. They played the par 5s at 5-under as a team which really helped us score today. This win brings our head-to-head record to 17-0. I’m hoping today’s play gives us some confidence going into tomorrow’s conference tourney at Belk Park.”
HHS 165, Mater Dei 165
In a rare occurrence, Highland and Mater Dei tied, but the Bulldogs won the match on a fifth-scorer tiebreaker at Highland Country Club on Monday, Sept. 18.
Mater Dei sophomore Grant Goebel easily won medalist honors with an awesome round of 1-under-par, 35.
Munie paced Highland with a 40. Also scoring for the Bulldogs were Sutton (41), Brauns (42) and Bargetzi (42).
The Knights also got scores from Ian Berndsen (42), Nathan Rivera (44) and Tanner Gerdes (44).
Highland also received matching rounds of 43 from senior Stephen Schniers, freshman Jake Brauns and freshman Zach Korte. Any one of the three 43s bested Mater Dei’s fifth score of 45, posted by Jacob Schadegg, and gave the Bulldogs the tie-breaking win.
“We have been trading blows with Mater Dei lately,” James said of Highland beating Mater Dei in a five-team match on Sept. 14 and then finishing behind them the next day at the O’Fallon Invitational. “So, I knew this was going to be a close match. Goebel shot a very impressive 35 on his first time seeing the course. Fortunately, our depth helped save us. I was really impressed with solid scores deep into our lineup. Forty-threes from our sixth through eighth men were very nice to see.”