The Highland High School girls golf team finished in second place at the 16-team Alton Marquette Blastoff Tournament Saturday at Spencer T. Olin Golf Course in Alton.
Effingham St. Anthony won the team title with a tournament-low score of 358 to beat out the second-place Lady Bulldogs’ 374 by 16 shots. Host Alton Marquette finished third at 380 while Effingham (385) and Auburn (387) rounded out the top five teams.
“The last two tournaments we had really been struggling and today we finally posted a second-place finish,” said Highland longtime coach Gina Hirsch, who is going to retire from coaching once this season is completed while she is going to retire from teaching at the end of this school year.
Senior Gabi Berolatti, senior Rece Portell and junior Audrey Wilke all turned in rounds of 90 or better to take home top-12 medals.
Auburn’s Katie Tanner as the individual champion with a winning low round of 75. Completing the top five individuals were Roxana’s Bailey Sharpmack (84), Pittsfield’s Lauren Hawley (85), Effingham St. Anthony’s Clare McHugh (85) and Effingham St. Anthony’s Macy Ludwig (87).
Berolatti carded a personal-record round of 89 to post the low score for Highland for the second consecutive match. She earned the eighth-place medal.
“Audrey and Gabi have really done some good shooting the last two matches and both girls continued where they left off,” Hirsch said. “(Berolatti) is hitting the ball pretty well and if we can get her putter to get hot she will continue to have personal-best rounds. Today was her second consecutive personal best of the season. Today was the first time ever of breaking 90 and she was grinning from ear to ear. Gabi hits such a long ball that she is getting to the par 5 in two or three shots. We just need to work a little on her putting stroke and touch and look out. All three girls medaled in the top 12 which was fantastic.”
Wilke and Portell shot matching rounds of 90.
“Audrey (Wilke) triple and double bogeyed her last two holes or she would have had another personal-best round,” Hirsch said. “Both Audrey and Rece (Portell) are striking the ball extremely well, it is just putting that is letting them down. It is just a little push or pull or not learning the speed and adjusting to it that is causing those 80 and 90 scores. But wow are they hitting great drives and approach shots.”
Highland’s fourth scorer was freshmen Claire Korte with a 105. She has scored for the Bulldogs the last two matches and Hirsch said she is happy with Korte’s continued improvement in each and every match.
Also for Highland, junior Geena Budwell had another personal-best match after lowering her 18-hole match average.
“She is driving the ball much better off the tee,” Hirsch said of Budwell. “Sometimes she has a little tendency to look up and peek and that is costing her some shots. (Budwell) is getting better in course management and is another one that can vie for the fourth scorer.
Hirsch said sophomore Lia Basden also continues to get better each match she plays.
Spencer T. Olin is the sectional course and the girls are really excited about getting to play there in the postseason.
“Today we not only shot a better round of golf, but we also developed confidence in the course,” she said. “That should help us come time for postseason. Until that time, we have to continue to eliminate easy mistakes. We shot 20 strokes better than the last time we came here. We sure did have a lot of positive things to talk about after the match.”
On Wednesday, Aug. 23 at Rolling Hills Golf Course in Godfrey, Alton shot a winning four-player team score of 194, which edged Highland (196) by two strokes. Triad finished a distant third at 224.
The Redbirds also had the match medalist as Morgan Bemis turned in a match-low round of 4-over-par 40.
The Bulldogs took the next two top scores.
Berolatti shot a 44 to lead Highland and claim second-place honors.
“Gabi has been our team medalist the last two matches and has really improved,” Hirsch said. “She is hitting the ball so long and has really improved her accuracy with her approach shots and chips. If we get her putter to get hot, she may be close to that 39 mark. Rece (Portell) and Audrey (Wilke) have been leading the pack so it is nice to have another player pick up medalist honors.”
Portell wound up in third place with a 47. Wilke tied for fifth place with a 51. Rounding out the 196 team score for the Bulldogs was Budwell with a 54.
Triad was led by Liz Young’s 51.
Completing the scoring for Alton were Jenna Fleming (48), Paige Wittman (51) and Addison Gregory (55).
Rounding out the scoring for the Knights were Clare Alexander (54), Mikaela Maaske (58) and Amyri Davis (61).