The Highland High School girls golf team got a very balanced attack from its top three golfers and a personal-best round from its fourth scorer to finish in third place at the IHSA Class 1A Teutopolis Regional Wednesday, Oct. 4 at the very challenging Effingham Country Club.
Effingham St. Anthony handily won the regional team title with an impressive team score of 335, which covered second place Effingham’s 367 by 32 strokes. Highland came in third place at 379, which was 48 shots ahead of fourth place Teutopolis.
The top three teams advance to Monday’s Alton Marquette Sectional to be held at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton.
“I am so very proud of how this team works so hard to continue our season and how exciting it is that their hard work paid off and we get to move on to the sectional,” said Highland coach Gina Hirsch, who is retiring once the season comes to an end. Coach (Gary) Bargetzi and I had our hands full with coaching and it was non stop tweaking swings. Effingham Country Club is a very challenging course where you are trying to hit certain targets.”
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Highland’s top three golfers all turned in scores within three shots of one another. Senior Rece Portell showed the way with a fifth-place finish after carding a 90. Senior Gabi Berolatti and junior Audrey Wilke finished close behind as Berolatti earned seventh place with a 92 and Wilke was just one spot and one shot behind Berolatti in eighth place with a 93.
And freshman Claire Korte picked a great time to shoot her personal-best 18-hole round with a 104.
The best thing about this team is that one of the top three has always been there to pick her up their golfing sister when she stumbled,” Hirsch said. “The top three girls have taken turns being the medalist all season which from a coaching position is pretty cool. Those three have just been there for each other every match. And even though they struggle they never give up. They have grit and they just continue to grind it out.
“But the play of the day was Claire Korte. Her personal best helped save us.”
The team is feeling pretty good about Monday’s sectional because they are familiar with Spencer T. Olin Golf Course.
“None of us really played our best, although the course was difficult,” Portell said about Effingham Country Club. “Plus, we have played Spencer T. before so we know what to expect. Today our fourth score really mattered. Claire Korte came in with a 104, which was a huge key in our success as a team today. I’m just proud of the whole team. And it feels nice to medal with fifth place too.”
Hirsch said that two days before the regional Berolatti and Wilke were were at the course late working on things and most of the kids have been playing extra on the weekends to hone their skills.
“Hopefully, things will go our way on Monday but it is really tough to get out,” Hirsch said. “We are going to focus on relaxing and having fun with focus.”
Berolatti said it was great to qualify individually as a senior but she was even happier that the team advanced.
“I was so excited for Claire (Korte), she really pulled through to help us out,” Berolatti said. “I shot a 41 on the front 9 and struggled on the back but ended the day with my score (93) that ended up seventh overall. I look forward to playing at Spencer T. because I love that course.”
Hirsch said coach Bargetzi has been working with Korte to change her grip and she had a breakout.
“She hit some really good shots in both drives and approach shots,” Hirsch said of Korte. “She played No. 5 today and her drives were much farther than her competitors. Today’s score put her at 20th which is just amazing for a freshmn. Then you look at a personal best of 115 from Lia (Basden) which put her 37th out of the 60 golfers which is just amazing.”
Effingham St. Anthony took the top three spots, led by regional champion Clare McHugh with a 6-over-par 78.
St. Anthony also received an 81 from Ava Wegman and an 82 from Macy Ludwig.
Effigham’s Abbi Burgess finished fourth with an 88.