By Scott Keyes
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – Until Saturday, Clarkston Everest Collegiate had never won an MHSAA Finals championship in any sport during the school’s eight-year existence.
That all changed during a five-hour round of golf Saturday afternoon, as its boys team lapped the field en route to capturing the Lower Peninsula Division 4 championship at Forest Akers West on the campus of Michigan State University.
The Mountaineers fired a two-day total of 637 followed by Kalamazoo Christian (665). Muskegon Catholic was third at 685, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart fourth at 690 and Clinton rounded out the top five with a 692.
Everest Collegiate used a strong second day to run away from the field after firing a 317 to take a two-stoke lead into the second round. The Mountaineers were followed closely by Kalamazoo Christian (319) and Sacred Heart (328) during Saturday’s round.
Everest Collegiate coach David Smith credited the strong start in the opening round to his golfers focus heading into the Final. That, coupled with making clutch shots, allowed the Mountaineers to pull away late in the second round.
"The memories from this day will last a lifetime,” Smith said. “We will go down as the first state championship team in school history. It doesn't get any better than that.
“It’s amazing,” he added. “This is such an amazing group of young men to be with.”
Everest Collegiate had never played the championship course until Friday. Smith was being honest when he said he didn't know what to expect before the opening round of play. But to see the team grow up this weekend nearly moved him to tears.
"You can teach the kids the basics of the game, but to watch them make shots in critical situations and just watch them grow as players is something you can't teach," Smith said. "My senior Tyler Rozwadowski came in and nearly won the whole thing as an individual player, and he never saw the course before until now. It's stuff like that which makes this victory even more impressive. I couldn't be prouder."
Taking the medalist honor was Lansing Christian sophomore Parker Jamieson, who fired a 71-76 two-day total of 147. Rozwadowski finished with 149 strokes, followed by White Pigeon's Jordan Olsen, Kalamazoo Christian's Colin Sikkenga and Collin Powers of Muskegon Catholic Central, who all tied for third at 154.
Jamieson, a Lansing native, is no stranger to the Forest Akers courses, and he played West as a veteran over the past two days. Needless to say he is already thinking about next year's tournament, as it will be played at Forest Akers East.
"I can't help not to think about coming back to Forest Akers next season and repeating," Jamieson said. "I really battled the heat out there Saturday, but so did everyone else. I focused on making good shots, making every shot count out there. It was definitely a grind."
"I came into Saturday's round with a number in my mind that I wanted to shoot and I almost hit that number, but I came up a little short," Rozwadowski said. "I would have loved to have won the individual championship, but I wouldn't change anything winning a team title with my guys. This is pretty special."
PHOTOS: (Top) The Clarkston Everest Collegiate boys golf team stands with its first MHSAA championship trophy in any sport. (Middle) Lansing Christian’s Parker Jamieson. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
The LPGA Professionals have named Saline High School golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak as its national Coach of the Year.
Williams-Hoak was among national award winners who were selected by the LPGA Professionals’ executive committee from a pool of Section Award winners, which were voted on by officers of those regional sections.
More on the award from LPGA Professionals:
The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who is actively engaged in teaching and/or coaching golf at the collegiate or high school level.
LPGA Professionals Class A member Debbie Williams-Hoak knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels. She is a former LPGA Tour Player and track & field athlete who represented U.S. Track & Field in Russia and West Germany. She is a four-time Big Ten Champion, a member of the Ohio Track & Field Hall of Fame, University of Michigan Women’s Track Hall of Fame member and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame as a player, coach and teaching professional. This year, she is being inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.
Having been a multi-sport athlete accustomed to competing at the highest level, Williams-Hoak brings something unique to her coaching style. She has successfully coached boys and girls golf for the past 16 years at Saline High School in Saline, Michigan, and currently is serving as the first female president of the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association. Williams-Hoak feels proud that every girl on her team shot career lows while maintaining 100-percent academic eligibility this season, while her boys team placed second in the conference championship and qualified for its second-straight state Finals appearance.
She is dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of the game while empowering students through golf and hopes her example will pave the way for other women coaches to lead as well.
Williams-Hoak received the 2017 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, for her continued dedication and passion for empowering girls through golf. She was honored with the Midwest Youth Leader of the Year and Goldie Bateson Award two times, in addition to numerous recognitions as Coach of the Year from Saline High School.
She is deeply involved with the LPGA Professionals organization, which she currently serves as the LPGA Midwest Secretary since 2021. She has been site director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Greater Washtenaw Country since 2015 and acted as an advisor for the Site Director Certification program in 2021. From 2018-2021, she worked as an expert committee member for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf. She also coached at the LPGA Leadership Academies in Michigan over the last two years.
"I am extremely humbled by this award, as there are so many outstanding LPGA coaches in our association. What an honor to represent the LPGA, the state of Michigan and the game of golf as a coach,” said Williams-Hoak. “It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful players who make coaching so rewarding. I am also fortunate to have such great fellow coaches in Michigan and throughout the LPGA. Thank you so much for this very special recognition."
PHOTO: Saline golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak, far left, stands for the trophy shot with her girls team after the Hornets won the 2016 Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship. (MHSAA file photo)