These Bluebirds are flying high both on and off the golf course

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Things are on the upswing for returning Highlands High School state qualifying golfers Hank Shick and Jenna Richey. Both advanced out of the KHSAA Region 8 Tournament last year. They have similar goals this season.

Shick, a junior, is the reigning KHSAA Region 8 boys medalist with a score of 72 at last year’s regional tournament. He’s been shooting below that early this season for the Bluebirds. Shick shot a season-best 67 and finished second at last week’s Bullitt East Boys Invitational in Taylorsville.

“Hank played well. We were at Tanglewood Golf Club and he had a nice score,” Highlands coach Bert Richey said. “That is a Highlands career low for him.”

Shick’s 72 at the regional was two shots better than the runner-up, who graduated. He seems capable of putting more distance between himself and would-be contenders. Newport Central Catholic senior Caleb Eaglin was closest to Shick in the regional standings among returnees with a score of 77.

Shick and the Bluebirds will be shooting for a fourth consecutive boys regional championship this fall. Highlands finished ninth at state last season.

“I would say Hank is improved,” Richey said. “And we’ve got a lot of golf left.”

Coach Richey’s daughter, Jenna Richey, was a first-time state qualifier last year for the Highlands girls golf team. She’s obviously no stranger to athletics. Her mom, Jaime Richey, is a Kentucky basketball legend who once held the state’s all-time girls high school scoring record when she was known as Jaime Walz. The Highlands hall of famer and 1996 Miss Kentucky Basketball has been the Bluebirds’ girls basketball coach since 2002 and is the sixth Northern Kentucky girls prep coach to reach 400 wins.

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Related to a cornucopia of coaches, Bluebirds junior golfer Jenna Richey holds her 2022 regional scorecard. Photo provided

Jaime Richey’s top varsity assistant since 2009 has been husband Bert Richey. While Jenna Richey has been improving as a golfer, her dad has been guiding the Highlands boys to five state tournament appearances. Jenna’s uncle, Jeff Walz, is the University of Louisville women’s basketball coach. Like his sister, Walz also has more than 400 career wins. Another uncle, Scott Walz, is the bass fishing coach at North Oldham High School with experience as a lacrosse coach and a football coach. Yet another uncle, Brian Walz, is a former Highlands assistant girls basketball coach. All the Walz boys played sports at Highlands.

Jenna’s grandfather, 1962 Highlands graduate Roger Walz, fathered all those Walz whiz kids after being a three-sport star for the Bluebirds and a college football quarterback at Kentucky and Cincinnati. He later coached the Highlands football team, guiding the Bluebirds to the 1975 Class AAA state title before becoming the school’s athletic director. He’s also in the Highlands Sports Hall of Fame.

That’s a lot to live up to, but Jenna’s golfing is just part of a bigger picture for the Highlands junior. She has something going for her that coaching relatives don’t. After developing an interest in taking photographs, she’s an actively published photographer right here at LINK nky.

“She’s taken to it and really enjoys it,” Bert Richey said.

Jenna Richey, the area’s second-lowest scoring golfer at last year’s Region 8 girls tournament with a score of 90, is also a former yearbook photo editor at Highlands with experience on the journalism staff. She’s definitely somebody to keep an eye on.

“She’s a true leader and one of my co-captains with Bailey Markus,” Highlands first-year girls golf coach Tye Lembright said. “They helped me win my first match. “

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Jenna Richey was more than happy to help. Eventually, she sees herself moving away from golf after high school and making photography more of a hobby as she explores a college education preparing her for a job in the medical field. Her immediate goal on the golf course is getting better every day and leading her team to wins.

“My goal individually is getting back to the substate event,” she said. “And play in the state tournament.”

Elsewhere around the links:

OLDENDICK QUALIFIES: Bruce Oldendick of Florence finished third at the 29th Kentucky Senior PGA Professional Championship with a two-day score of 2-over-par 146, three shots behind winner Kirk Schooley (143) of Frankfort. The golf professional at Pendleton Hills was two shots behind runner-up Steve Cox (144) of Hodgenville. Oldendick, a former champion of the event, shot 75-71. The top three finishers qualified for the 2023 Senior PGA Professional Championship held October 26-29 at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

LANDRUM AN ALTERNATE: Ralph Landrum of Crestview Hills finished fifth at the Kentucky Senior, carding 4-over 148. He qualified as the second alternate for the Senior PGA Professional Championship. Landrum, general manager and head professional at World of Golf in Florence, is a PGA Master Professional. A member of the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame, he’s rated a top 50 golf instructor by U.S. Kids Golf and the No. 4 rated golf instructor in Kentucky by Golf Digest.

U.S. MID-AM QUALIFIER NEXT WEEK: The U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier on Aug. 10 at Traditions Golf Club in Hebron has attracted more than a half-dozen local golfers so far. Those who have registered for the event include Fred Geraci from Union, Brandon Hollmann from Union, Brad Kohls from Cold Spring, Rob Petrey from Florence, Matthew Striegel from Cold Spring, Kevin Kim from Ludlow and Byron Speach from Covington.

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BRANDSTETTERS SET THE STANDARD: Adam Brandstetter, a senior at Villa Madonna Academy, won the 18-under boys division of the AJ Classic, a Greater Cincinnati Golf Association 1905 Junior Tour event at AJ Jolly Golf Course in Alexandria. Brandstetter shot 1-over-par 72. Cody Simon, a junior from Bishop Brossart, placed fourth in the division with 80. Fellow Bishop Brossart junior Luka Bertsch finished 11th at 86. Tyler Brandstetter, a Villa Madonna sophomore, was second in the AJ Jolly 15-under competition with a score of 80.

JOHANSING VICTORIOUS: Boone County school district’s Noah Johansing won the boys 12-under division at the AJ Classic, carding a nine-hole total of 1-over 36. St. Henry District’s Reed Stringer tied for fifth with 46. Kenton County’s Owen Havens tied for seventh at 52.

SISTER POWER: Reese Anthony won the AJ Classic girls 12-under event with a nine-hole score of 40. Her sister Nora Anthony won the girls 9-under, nine-hole event with 54. Nora added a win at the Whitewater Classic and Reese was second in her division. Reese and Nora, the winningest single-season Kentucky sister duo among GCGA 1905 Junior Tour players 12 and under, followed with first-place finishes at the Middletown Junior Open. The Hebron duo has combined for 15 tour wins this spring and summer, eight for Reece and seven for Nora. They both lead their respective age-group player of the year standings.

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