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Front Center (L-R): Stephanie Smart Middle (L-R): Bella Lupoli, Mary-Gillan Renfro Back (L-R): Emily Gabbard, Coach Barbara Reese, Rebecca ParksIn only their second season as a program, the Highlands girl’s golf team is playing remarkably well so far this season. Led by Senior Stephanie Smart, the girls have a 3-2 overall record, exceeding even their own expectations. Because of their strong play early on, the team is looking forward to doing big things later this season, as the team may have two players representing Highlands at the Regionals match later this fall.

“Everything is going really well. We have made incredible progress so far this season, and I am proud of what we have accomplished so far,” said head coach and Highlands athletic director Butch Smart.

Complementing Smart is sophomore Emily Gabbard, who has made enormous strides with her swing throughout this season. “Stephanie and Emily qualified for Regionals and are really playing well for us,” said Smart. “It’s only our second year as a program, so we were new to it all last year. But we are really coming along well this year, and those two girls have been really important to our team,” he said.

The girls have played Cherokee four times, losing only once. They also played Tamassee Salem, coming just one point shy of a victory. The future looks bright for the program, as the team has only one senior on its roster. Rebecca Parks, Emily Gabbard, Mary-Gillan Renfro, and Isabella Lupoli are all underclassmen. “I am really excited for the girls,” continued Coach Smart. “I think we have the ability to send a few girls to compete at Regionals. I anticipate for Stephanie and Emily to break 50 before the year is out,” he said.

Coach Smart’s prediction nearly came true in Monday’s match against Cherokee. Senior Stephanie Smart shot an even 50 in the team’s 166-177 win over the Cherokee Braves. Matches are determined after playng nine holes.

Both Smart and Gabbard are averaging around 56-57 so far this season, but if Monday’s match against Cherokee is any indication, those averages will likely keep coming down. “If Rebecca, Isabella, and Mary-Gillan can continue to improve and shoot in the middle 50s, we can do some really great things,” said Coach Smart. Judging by their scores, it is hard to argue otherwise.

The Lady Highlanders golf team will take on Cherokee two more times in mid-October before the Regionals tournament later this fall.

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