Highland: Sports

Top two golfers step up for HHS in triangle matches

Highland sophomore Audrey Wilke tees off on the fourth hole en route to shooting a team-low round of 45 and tying for runner-up honors last Wednesday at Highland Country Club. Wilke then went on to shoot a round of 49 on Monday at HCC.
Highland sophomore Audrey Wilke tees off on the fourth hole en route to shooting a team-low round of 45 and tying for runner-up honors last Wednesday at Highland Country Club. Wilke then went on to shoot a round of 49 on Monday at HCC. News Leader

The Highland High School girls golf team team got good sub-50 rounds from its top two players, but state-power Edwardsville dominated a triangle match Monday at Highland Country Club.

The Tigers took three of the top four scores and seven of the top-10 rounds en route to firing a jaw-dropping four-player team score of 168. Mater Dei was a distant second at 205 and the Lady Bulldogs rounded it out at 210.

Edwardsville’s Addy Zeller was the match medalist after showing the way with a 3-over-par 39, which included five pars and one birdie. Also for the Tigers, Kayla Weinacht and Jessica Benson each fired 6-over 42s to match Mater Dei’s Mikaleen Lawrence, and Paige Hamel rounded out Edwardsville’s team score with a 9-over 45.

Highland was paced by junior Rece Portell, who carded a strong 7-over 43 despite taking a nine on the par-4 sixth hole. She helped overcome it with two of her best holes, the par-5 fourth hole and the par-4 eighth hole.

On the fourth hole, Portell blistered a drive down the right side of the fairway and took a 4-wood and put it about 20 yards from the green. She converted an outstanding chip that landed 4 feet from the hole and she then drained the putt. On the eighth hole, Portell went for the green and landed her drive on the fringe. Her chip was pretty close and she was able to tap her putt in for birdie.

Highland coach Gina Hirsch said sophomore Audrey Wilke continues to amaze her with a steady round of 49, which came five days after leading the Bulldogs with a 45 in another triangle match at Highland Country Club.

“Audrey is pretty close to bogey golf,” Hirsch said. “She is hitting her drives with a nice little draw and just needs to get a little better with approach shots. As soon as the match was finished, she and Gabi (Berolatti) headed back out to the course to work on things with coach (Brendan) Bargetzi. Their dedication to the sport is amazing.”

Rounding out HHS’ team score were junior Kayla Davis with a 57 and one of two 61s shot by Berolatti, a junior, and freshman Kennedy Klucker.

HHS finishes second in a triangle match

Last Wednesday at Highland Country Club, HHS did not have its A-game and came in second in a triangle match.

Triad shot a winning four-player team score of 198. Highland was a distant second with a 216 to edge Belleville West’s 217 by a single stroke.

“Tonight wasn’t one of our best nights of golf as we really struggled to score on our home course,” Hirsch said. “I know we didn’t play our best, but we have had some really good practices in this last week. I felt so bad for them tonight, but they all had their heads held high and just tried to battle. Even the pros have bad rounds and tonight was our night. I told the girls we just have to keep working harder. In life, we have to work through the little bumps that we get and tonight we hit a big bump.”

Triad’s Brianna Benardin was the individual medalist after turning in the match’s lowest score of 42.

Sophomore Audrey Wilke kept up her meteoric progression as she fired a team-best round of 45 to share runner-up honors with Sydney Snyder of the Knights.

Hirsch said Wilke played hole No. 5 to perfection. The sophomore hit her tee shot a little long and left of the pin so it came to rest on the left collar of the green. She then had a tricky little downhill putt which she put about a foot from the pin, leaving a nice and more comfortable uphill putt.

“What great course management,” Hirsch said of Wilke. “Audrey continues to be on a tear with her game. She literally had never played nine holes a couple weeks before the season started and tonight she was our team low scorer. Our top four have been spending a lot of time on the golf course after practice. The last two days Club President Gary Bargetzi has come out to help them and his tips have really been paying off for Audrey. A 45 is incredible.”

Junior Rece Portell, Highland’s No. 1 player, did not feel well but she gutted it out for a 49 to match Triad’s Paige Duncan and Belleville West’s Nina Goodrich.

“The really crazy thing is that Rece was like the rest of her team in that they all had some really good looking shots tonight, but they were not consistent throughout a hole or the round,” Hirsch said.

Completing the Bulldogs’ team score were junior Kayla Davis and sophomore Geena Budwell who shot identical rounds of 61.

“Geena is starting to hit the ball a little longer and tonight she did not have any pickups,” Hirsch said.