|Bluebirds Put Things Together at Right Time|
|Twitter Photo. The Highlands boys golf team won its first 8th Region championship since 2010 shooting a 293 at AJ Jolly Golf Course.|
The Highlands Bluebirds boys golf team did just that Tuesday in the 8th Region Tournament at AJ Jolly Golf Course in Alexandria winning it with 293 strokes. Highlands captured its first region championship since 2010 in the process and qualified for the state tournament for the second straight year.
"We got off to a great start and I think that helped our nerves, gave the kids a lot of confidence," said Bert Richey, Highlands Head Coach. "(Monday) we were practicing in the rain. The course was wet and you had to play long. You just had to keep grinding away. The kids did an unbelievable job of sticking to their plan and not getting rattled if they made a bogey (one-over part on hole). They played great. They were very tough mentally."
Highlands placed its top three golfers in the top five in the tournament. Sophomore Justin Gabbard tied Grant County's Tyler Mitts with 70 in the regular 18 holes for one-unders on the par-71 course.
Gabbard then won individual medalist honors in a six-hole playoff with Mitts. Gabbard had to hit a long shot on the fifth hole forcing the sixth hole that he won.
"That putt really got my momentum going," Gabbard said. "I play off my energy so if I am making putts, I usually get fired up and hit some good shots. (Tyler Mitts) made an easy birdie (one-under par for the hole) and I made a hard one so it really got my momentum going for the next one which made me hit a better shot I think."
Highlands sophomore Luke Muller finished one stroke behind them in third with 71 for an even par game. Senior Ryan Leigh tied for fourth with Grant County's Ryan Mitts shooting 72.
"Knowing the course is always good obviously. Personally, I like it better when it's wet because if you hit the green, you know it's going to stop instead of rolling off," Muller said. "I hit my irons the best I have in a while so that helped a lot. We're looking forward to state. This year, maybe we can do a little better than last year."
Eighth grader Joel Craft finished off the Highlands scoring with an 80. Senior Steven Grimme also participated for the Bluebirds shooting a 92.
"Joel with an 80 is a great score for your fourth man," Richey said. "We made up a lot of shots with our four man. It takes four scores so him shooting that score was very comforting."
Highlands played at AJ Jolly a number of times this year. With a number of sponsors to help host their own invitational there in August, Highlands raised money to go all over the state to play in a lot of tournaments including Bowling Green and Prestonsburg. Richey said that experience paid dividends Tuesday.
The state tournament is Oct. 5 and 6 in Bowling Green. Tee times will be 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The practice rounds will be Oct. 4 starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Bowling Green Country Club.
Highlands 0, Bishop Brossart 0:
The winless streak for the Bluebirds (12-1-3 overall) hit three in a row with their second scoreless tie of the season against the Mustangs.
Highlands had 30 shots with 10 on goal to six shots and three on goal for Bishop Brossart (7-4-1). Senior goalkeeper Will Burnham stopped all three Mustang shots for a shutout.
The Bluebirds play host to Cincinnati LaSalle (Ohio) on Thursday. Game time is 7 p.m.
Simon Kenton 3, Highlands 1:
Highlands (18-6 overall) won the first game 25-19, but Simon Kenton (23-7) took the next three by 25-23, 25-23, 25-22 scores to win the non-region match.
The Bluebirds had just a .161 hitting percentage with 50 kills on 168 attempts and 23 errors. Senior Margot Seidel had 15 kills with freshman CC Shick tallying 14, junior Ava Hockney 12 and sophomore Laura Winkler nine. Junior Audrey Graves had 46 assists to go with 20 digs and Hockney added four solo blocks.
Seidel had another solid game all-around. She added 31 digs and five aces.
The Bluebirds dug up 100 balls. Senior Olivia Gessner had 13 digs and junior Rylee Kirschenbaum dug up 10. Hockney had nine digs and junior Brooke Biltz had eight.
Highlands plays host to Covington Holy Cross on Thursday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.