A week ago things were unsettling for the Highlands boys golf team, finding out they’d be without their No. 2 golfer Nate Surrey for the regional tournament due to having to get an appendectomy.
Surrey, normally counted on for his score in the 70’s, the Bluebirds knew they would have to utilize all of their depth if they were to repeat in the 8th Region for a fourth straight year.
The Bluebirds were able to do so by eight strokes at AJ Jolly Golf Course, shooting a 315 and taking home the region championship trophy for the fourth straight season.
“When you win as something as a team, you have to have four scores. That’s the hardest part is to get four kids that played their best and we’ve been fortunate enough to have four kids play their best,” Bluebirds coach Bert Richey said.
Hank Schick paced Highlands with a 74, winning his second straight regional title with a three-over-par 74 and winning on the first hole of a three-man playoff. Schick was even-par and in control to win through 15 holes, but three straight bogeys to close out his round certainly made things tougher on himself.
“Coach Richey talked to me a little bit, told me to calm down and just focus on what’s ahead and forget about what happened on those last three holes,” Shick said.
Shick regrouped, hit his approach shot on the playoff hole within eight-feet and sunk his birdie putt to claim the top spot. Shick was in the playoff with Newport Central Catholic’s Caleb Eaglin and Harrison County’s David Korona.
“Just had to be aggressive and that’s all I was thinking. My shot in I was just thinking hit it close, hit it at the pin and made sure not to leave the putt short. Right shot, right line and knock it in. That’s all I was thinking,” Shick said.
Shick was followed by his teammates Oliver Golden with a 76, Nathan Kirst 81, and Ryan Toole an 84 to post the Bluebirds top four scores. Alex Race posted a 89.
“Nathan played extremely well, had a good gameplan and stuck right to it. Ryan played solid, had two bad holes, but other than that played really well. Oliver shot under his average, settled in after a rough start and stuck to what he was doing. Hank is a gamer, gets in these kind of things and is used to playing under pressure and Alex stepped in and did a good job for us to give us a fifth man,” Richey said.
Nine players in total broke 80 on the day. Eaglin had a chance to win on his last hole of his 18, but left his birdie putt a little short to get it to the three-way playoff.
“Watching Caleb on that last hole was very nerve-wracking,” Shick said.
All three in the playoff put themselves in good position after their tee shots. Eaglin was about 50 yards ahead off the drive, Shick and Korona in the light rough to the right of the fairway. Shick’s approach was the closest, Eaglin about 20-feet past the hole and Korona short of the green. After seeing Korona’s chip about eight-feet past the hole and Eaglin’s putt coming up just short, Shick sunk his birdie putt for the victory.
Bishop Brossart just missed out in a lot of ways to qualify for sub-state next week at The Willows at Kenton County Golf Course. The Mustangs were three strokes shy of Harrison County for second place while Mustangs’ Cody Simon and Cole Bricking also missed out on qualifying individually in a playoff, tied with three others at 83 and two out of the five qualifying. They did however get Luke Bertsch (79) and Branden Burkhardt (81) to qualify.
Eaglin, Campbell County’s Talen Beane (78) and Bellevue’s TJ Sorrell (80) were among others to qualify individually.
Other individual qualifiers include Bourbon County’s Parker Arnold (75), Bracken County’s Ben Parsons (79), Grant County’s Ben Bosse (81), Gallatin County’s Mikey Cafarrati (83) and Carroll County’s Dustin Battaglia (83) also qualified for next week’s sub-state tournament.
At sub-state, the top three teams and next 10 individuals qualify for the state tournament in Bowling Green Oct. 6-7. The sub-state tournament will consist of the top two teams from Region tournaments 5-8. Ryle and Covington Catholic advanced out of Region 7.
The Bluebirds have now won five of the last six region titles.
“We challenge these kids and play in some of the toughest tournaments around the state. We’re fortunate to be able to play in the KIT, BGIT. We play these tough teams on some of the toughest courses,” Richey said. “So I told our kids this was just another tournament and don’t freak out because it’s the regional tournament. We have a lot of experience here and that helps.”
- Highlands — 315*
- Harrison County — 323*
- Bishop Brossart — 326
- Henry County — 343
- Owen County — 351
- Bracken County — 352
- Newport Central Catholic — 354
- Pendleton County — 356
- Carroll County — 357
- Campbell County — 364
- Bourbon County — 389
- Gallatin County — 392
- Augusta — 392
- Trimble County — 394
- Grant County — 397
- Nicholas County — 419
*=Qualified for sub-state
INDIVIDUAL SCORING (Top 15)
Hank Shick, Highlands — 74 (Won in playoff)
Caleb Eaglin, Newport Central Catholic — 74* (Second in playoff)
David Korona, Harrison County — 74 (Third in playoff)
John Combs, Harrison County — 75
Parker Arnold, Bourbon County — 75*
Oliver Golden, Highlands — 76
Talen Beane, Campbell County — 78*
Luke Bertsch, Bishop Brossart — 79*
Ben Parsons, Bracken County — 79*
TJ Sorrell, Bellevue — 80*
Nathan Kirst, Highlands — 81
Branden Burkhardt, Bishop Brossart — 81*
Ben Bosse, Grant County — 81*
Jack Judy, Harrison County — 82
Mikey Cafaratti, Gallatin County — 83*
Dustin Battaglia, Carroll County — 83*
Cody Simon, Bishop Brossart — 83
Cole Bricking, Bishop Brossart — 83
Malachi Mefford, Owen County — 83
*= Qualified for sub-state individually