The Highland High School girls golf team used its home course advantage to be rude hosts as the Lady Bulldogs carved up the Triad Knights by 54 strokes, 181-235, Wednesday, Aug. 16 at Highland Country Club.
Next on Saturday, Highland finished sixth out of 12 teams at the Belleville East Invitational at Clinton Hills Golf Course in Swansea.
This week, Highland travels to Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey on Wednesday to vie in a triangular match against Triad and Alton before heading to Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton on Saturday to compete in the Alton Explorer Marquette Blast-Off Tournament.
Highland 181, Triad 235
The Bulldogs posted the top four scores en route to mauling the Knights by 54 strokes.
Prior to the dual match, Highland coach Gina Hirsch said she felt really good about how her team was playing after using the scramble shamble on Aug. 11 as a team building match.
“At our match today, we picked up where we left off,” she said. “We had four personal best records fall today. Triad is in a rebuilding year. Coach (Darrell) Butler is a great coach and his girls did well playing on our tough course. Triad kids have great sportsmanship and it is always great to play them.
“All in all I was amazed at how many things we did right on the course. What a great group of kids to work with.”
Senior Rece Portell and junior Audrey Wilke were far and away the best golfers on the day as they finished within one shot of each other.
Portell garnered match medalist honors after shooting a super strong round of 2-over-par 38 and Wilke was just one stroke back with a 39.
“Audrey (Wilke) and Rece (Portell) are both grinders on the course,” Hirsch said. “They take what the course gives them and try to make good good decisions on what to do next. I am just beside myself of their progress from last season.”
Hirsch said Portell is just killing her drives and is playing really smart on the course. The senior finished with three bogeys, one birdie and five pars.
(Portell) is giving herself a great chance by playing smart on the course,” Hirsch said. “Coach (Gary)Bargetzi has been working on course management with several of the girls and they are executing what he has been preaching to him. She showed real leadership and poise on the course.”
Wilke backed up Portell’s 38 with a personal-record round of 39 after scoring six pars and three bogeys.
“Audrey (Wilke) is not afraid on the course and after that great round of 74 she and Rece (Portell) had on Friday in scramble, she went in with a lot of confidence,” Hirsch said. “Golf is a real mental game and you have to go into it with a gritty attitude.”
Rounding out Highland’s team score were junior Geena Budwell (51) and senior Gabi Berolatti (53).
Hirsch said Budwell is really hitting the ball well off the tee.
“We need to work on that second shot and get a little more feel around the greens,” Hirsch said. “But a 51 is nine strokes better than any round she has shot. Her hard work from the summer is really paying off. That score can easily come into the 40s with a little work.”
Hirsch said Berolatti struggled a little bit.
“In her defense her competitor was really struggling and she could never get into a steady pace,” Hirsch said. “She had some really great drives but she is pushing (the ball) to the right. The good news is she is swaying in her shot and we can fix that. Gabi is such a competitor and I know she was disappointed.”
Playing but not scoring for the Bulldogs were sophomore Lia Basden (59) and junior Kenneday Klucker (60).
Triad’s four scorers were Liz Young (58), Amyri Davis (58), Mikaela Maaske (59) and Clare Alexander (60).
Belleville East Invitational
Highland posted a team score of 394, which placed the Bulldogs in the middle of the pack in sixth place among the 12 competing squads at Clinton Hills Golf Course, the home course of McKendree University.
O’Fallon was the team champion with an outstanding team score of 323, which was 10 strokes better than runner-up Massac County’s 333.
Rounding ou the 12-team tournament field were: Nashville (340), Althoff (379), Belleville East (393), Highland (394), Columbia (407), Belleville West (453), Okawville (458), Mascoutah (461), Triad (466) and Waterloo (474).
O’Fallon also had the match medalist as Alyssa McMinn was the individual champion with a 77. Rounding out the top six individual scorers were Massac County’s Millie Lawson (80), O’Fallon’s Emily Marrs (81), Massac County’s Emma Korte (82), Nashville’s Rachel Kell (82) and O’Fallon’s Brooke Boatman (82).
Wilke was Highland’s top finisher as she tied for 13th place with a round of 88.
Portell tied for 19th place with a 94.
Completing the Bulldogs’ top four scorers were Berolatti (100) and freshman Claire Korte (112).