The Highland High School girls golf team took second in a triangle match Monday at Highland Country Club.
The Lady Bulldogs posted a four-player team score of 208, which finished 20 strokes behind Triad’s winning team total of 188. Mascoutah rounded out the match at 219.
Triad’s Brianna Benardin and Haylee Netemeyer shared match medalist honors with matching rounds of 43.
“Hats off to Triad for shooting a 188 on some really tough greens,” Highland coach Gina Hirsch said. “Overall tonight, chipping and putting just killed us. The greens were fast and their were some really tough pin placements. Nine was in a spot that if you didn’t hit the shelf it would roll back down. One of the girls from the other team six putted that hole.”
For Highland, senior Allison Young and sophomore Rece Portell showed the way with identical rounds of 47.
“Allison was hitting the ball long and straight off the tee,” Hirsch said. “Her struggles tonight were from her short game. We just need to chip and putt for an hour and we can have her back on track. Rece struggled in the early going and then came back on holes 5, 6, 7 and played them 1-over (par). She just needed to figure out her swing path and then she was hitting the ball really well.”
In what has been a rare tough season for the Lady Bulldogs, Portell has definitely been a bright spot. She shoots regularly in the low- to mid-40s for nine holes, as she did with her 44 on Wednesday of last week in a triangle match against Waterloo and Columbia.
Portell even fired a round below 40 when she carded a career-low 39 to win match medalist honors in a triangle match against Triad and Belleville West on Sept. 9 at Triple Lakes Golf. Two days later, Portell kept it going by posting a 91 to tie for seventh place out of 65 total competitors at the O’Fallon Lady Panther Invitational on Sept. 11.
“Rece (Portell) has been pretty consistent and has made tremendous progress since the end of last season,” Hirsch said. “She has that desire to succeed that drives her to do better. She is just an all-around athlete.”
Rounding out the team score for the Lady Bulldogs Monday against Triad and Mascoutah were freshman Hannah Kernan with a 56 and senior Caitlin Lammers with a 58.
“Caitlin has been hitting the ball long off the tee but she ran into trouble on the greens,” Hirsch said. “I accept full responsibility for our poor putting. I should have went out and tested the greens before the match. We could have talked about toe putting and where to make good leaves. Hannah has been steadily improving and has taken over the number 6 spot. She just moves the ball forward and keeps it in play.”
Highland headed into Wednesday’s Mississippi Valley Conference Tournament as the third-seeded team, which is unprecedented considering how the Lady Bulldogs have absolutely owned the conference. HHS has won the MVC tourney 15 times in 17 years.
“You never know what can happen on any given day, Hirsch said. “I like being the underdog. It takes a lot of pressure off the girls. We can just focus on having fun and doing our best. I’m proud of how well the girls have handled themselves this season. You never really know how their doing because they just have fun on the course. I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. They always try their best and represent our school in the best manner.”