High School golfers wrap up season mixed with highs and lows

It was a season of good days and bad days for many high school golfers on the Plateau this year. The quest to qualify for regionals was on many athletes’ minds with each bogie, sand trap, or water hazard they fell prey to.

BREC Joe Madden scopes out and short chip.

The road to Regionals is a tough one, and players took on challenging courses like Connestee Falls, Sky Valley, Mill Creek and Old Union along the way.

Highlands varsity girls golfer Anna Stiehler took everything these courses could throw at her and easily qualified for Regionals, but she didn’t stop there.

Highlands Anna Stiehler gets set to take a swing at Sky Valley Golf Course.

Stiehler once again brought the thunder in the girls Regionals match at Lincolnton Country Club on May 4, which qualified her to compete in the 1A and 2A Women’s Golf State Championship at Pinehurst.

Highlands Mason Taylor takes one last look before swinging.

She said she played well overall, but had 2-3 rough holes that significantly hurt her score. While she may not have been a top finisher, she said qualifying for the state championship was incredible.

“The highlight of my season would probably be making it to state, especially since there were way more cuts this year,” said Stiehler. “All of my season was a lot of fun though. I got to play with people from my school, I met a lot of new people throughout the rounds, and I just spent more time playing the sport I love.”

BREC Steve Madden seems satisfied with his shot at Sky Valley.

Steihler said she had a good season, but is really planning to focus on her game over the summer snd hopefully lower her score for the upcoming season in the fall.

Stiehler is coached by her father Brian and said none of her success on the course would be possible without her support system.

Highlands Brent Sleight winds up and lets one rip down the fairway at Sky Valley.

“I just want to say thank you to my parents for everything they do for me, and my golf game,” said Anna. “Both my mom and dad are so supportive, and I appreciate everything they do. I don’t think I’d be at this level without them.”

Highlands boys varsity golf team didn’t go the distance that Anna did, but they won 2nd-place in Conference and qualified for Regionals at Meadowbrook Golf Club in Rutherfordton on May 3.

BREC Carsen Druffel and Highlands Mason Taylor make their way to the next hole at Sky Valley.

Representing Highlands at the boys varsity Regionals match were Win Dyleski, JJ Postell, Brent Sleight, Mason Taylor, and Ryan Ubertino.

Highlands JJ Postell said he’s not the best golfer, but if you can maintain consistency, it will all be fine.

“I think the season went very well, including regular and post season,” said Postell. “And I got to spend a lot of time with my brothers, making it even better.”

Highlands JJ Postell is not loving what he’s seeing in his current situation but he gets ready to swing regardless.

Postell added that they were able to play some great courses this season. He described Old Union as a flat-open course, generally good for tee-box drives and 5 irons, with bunkers linking the fairways. His favorite course this year was Connestee Falls, because the layout is good for new golfers and the sheer beauty on the course, including scattered cherry blossom trees, herds of deer, gorgeous water features, etc).

Blue Ridge Early College boys varsity golf team did not qualify for Regionals this season, but players said it was fun playing new courses and hanging out with friends.

BREC Charlotte Sherrill lines up her shot at Sky Valley. Sherrill was the only female player on the boys varsity team.

BREC Carson Druffel had never played golf competitively before and thought he’d give it a try.

“I feel like I played decently for my first match,” said Druffel. “The course (Connestee Falls) was nice and fairly easy. The only reason I consider it easy is most holes where fairly flat. Some holes were very difficult due to downhill dogleg holes and water hazards. I also thought the deer running through the course was pretty dang cool.”

BREC Carsen Druffel gets ready to drive at Sky Valley.

Druffel added that the season started off rough, but throughout the course of the year he progressively improved his score.

“My favorite course to play was Sky Valley,” he said. “I liked the layout of the course and the landscape was beautiful.”

Highlands Win Dyleski sends the ball down the fairway at Sky Valley.

It was a gorgeous day at Sky Valley Golf Course and these high school golfers were eager to get to it.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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