Coldwater Sends 7 Shot Putters to Finals

May 26, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Individually, Coldwater’s shot putters might not be the most sizable guys muscling up to the pit at this weekend’s MHSAA Track & Field Finals.

But as a group, the Cardinals might be the largest ever to advance to championship weekend – and perhaps the most athletic as well.

Coldwater has qualified an incredible seven shot putters for the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals at Zeeland.

They’ve been produced by throws coach Mike McConnell, one of the state’s more reputable in those events. But the magnificent seven also are a product of all-around athleticism – six are three-sport athletes, and the seventh plays two sports.

It’s difficult to track if seven qualifying shot putters from the same school was a first-time accomplishment at an MHSAA Regional. But it’s more than fair to call it rare.

“We have three seniors that are the cornerstone of our throwing team, but through the course of this year we have had three juniors and a freshman that have stepped up with them to make us, what I like to believe, one of the best throwing teams in the state,” Coldwater head boys track & field coach Jeff Schorfhaar said. “A lot of this has to do with the athleticism of our throwers … (and) I believe, and of course I am biased, that (McConnell) is one of the best throwing coaches in the state of Michigan.

“This will be something that we will remember for a long time, no matter what happens Saturday at Zeeland.”

McConnell’s work speaks for itself over two decades of Finals placers. He’s had at least one thrower score at an MHSAA Finals in 22 of the last 24 seasons at Coldwater and formerly Camden-Frontier. Highlighting some of the most recent successes, Coldwater’s Logan Targgart won shot put in Division 2 in 2015 and discus in 2014.

Senior Connor Covert, who finished fifth in both shot put and discus at the 2016 LP Division 2 Finals, led a group of Cardinals that took the top seven places in shot put at the Regional two weeks ago in Mason. Four throwers tossed personal records – third-place freshman Dylan Targgart, fifth-place junior Nathan Spray, sixth-place junior Cole Targgart and seventh-place senior Colin Klein. 

Covert and senior runner-up Sam DeMeester advanced to the Finals by finishing among the top two in the event. The other five Coldwater throwers cleared the automatic qualifying standard of 48 feet, 5 inches. Fourth-place junior Zach Gipple joined the personal record-setters with his third-farthest toss of this season.

DeMeester and Gipple also competed at the Finals in shot put last season, DeMeester just missing the medal stand with a ninth place finish. Covert’s 54-7 at this year’s Regional was half an inch farther than last year’s Finals throw. He, Dylan Targgart and Cole Targgart also made the Finals in discus, Covert and Dylan Targgart finishing first and second, respectively, at the Regional with Cole Targgart coming in fourth but clearing the automatic qualifying standard of 142-0.

The Coldwater boys track & field team is enjoying another memorable season as a whole and will be seeking a fourth straight top-10 Finals finish and winning its league and that Regional earlier this month.

Last season, they Cardinals finished eighth as a team at the LP Division 2 Finals, but only 3.5 points out of fifth. Theys were ranked fifth in the final Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association LP Division 2 poll two weeks ago before finishing ahead of No. 3 Battle Creek Harper Creek at both the Regional and league meets.

Block, Pilgrims Power to 1st League Title

We told the story at the start of this month of Lansing Christian junior Dawson Block, a multi-sport athlete contributing to three teams this spring – golf, baseball and track & field.

He’s now also a champion.

Block helped the Pilgrims to their first-ever league title in boys golf, as Lansing Christian finished one point ahead of Olivet in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference standings based on league jamborees and the end-of-season tournament.

Lansing Christian topped the standings heading into that final tournament, at Michigan State’s Forest Akers East, needing to finish no lower than second to clinch the title. Furthermore, they had to play without two seniors who were on a class trip to Washington, D.C.

With only five players available, the Pilgrims did finish second, just three strokes behind the Eagles. Parker Jamieson and Andrew Preiskorn were co-medalists with 83s, and Block shot a fourth-place 86 – in doing so, he earned the seventh and final spot on the all-league first team.

Block and his golf team continue their season Thursday with a Division 4 Regional at Hastings Country Club, seeking to make the MHSAA Finals for the first time. His baseball team will play in a Division 4 District on Saturday at Potterville. And while Block didn’t advance to the Division 4 Track & Field Finals, he did run a personal record and fifth-place 10:44.62 in the 3,200 meters at his Regional after finishing fourth in the 1,600 in 4:51.84.

PHOTOS: (Top) Coldwater’s throwers and throws coach, from left: Cole Targgart, Dylan Targgart, Zach Gipple, Colin Klein, coach Mike McConnell, Connor Covert, Sam DeMeester and Nathan Spray. (Middle) Lansing Christian’s boys golf team celebrates its first league title. (Photos courtesy of Mason and Lansing Christian’s athletic departments, respectively.)

Hockey Players Transferring Winter Puck Skills to Spring Golf Swings

By Tom Lang
Special for

May 26, 2023

When the Michigan seasons shift from winter to spring, some high school golf teams are a little more eager than others for the hockey season to officially end.

This is especially true for the school golf programs in Brighton, Hartland and Muskegon Mona Shores – examples of boys teams that love having hockey players transition from the indoor frozen ice to play golf outdoors on the lush green grass.

“I would take a golf team full of hockey players any day,” said Hartland golf coach Nathan Oake. “I love them.”

We can tell, because his program is full of them.

Hartland and Brighton each have eight hockey players on their 16-golfer varsity and JV rosters.

Mona Shores has three hockey players this year, but usually has more. In 2023 it’s Oliver MacDonald (all-state honorable mention in hockey), Nathan McNarland and Nicholas Taylor, who was voted Division 1 all-state golf last spring, then leading his team to fifth place at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.

Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. Brighton golfer Winston Lerch was also Division 1 all-state last year in golf and an assistant captain on the hockey team this winter that finished Division 1 runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central. Here in 2023, he shot a 65 to open the season at Oakland University for medalist and has committed to Grand Valley State for golf with his 72-stroke average.

Joining Lerch in the Bulldogs boys golf program are hockey players like Levi Pennala, winner of hockey’s Wall Award sponsored by State Champs as the top high school goalie. Pennala – who recently shot 72 at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship tournament, his career low for high school golf – finished in the top 30 last year at the LPD1 Final. Then early this spring when he was away at a high-level junior hockey tournament, freshman hockey player Adam Forcier stepped in and shot a school record 18-hole round for a freshman at 73. Jacob Daavetilla also works into the starting lineup at times.

Forcier tied the record of Davis Codd – who, as a pro hockey player on leave from the Saginaw Spirit OHL hockey team when COVID-19 shut down the league, won the LPD1 Final in 2021 for Brighton.

Brighton golf coach Jimmy Dewling said Codd was one of the earliest to prove to others you can play both hockey and golf and excel. In fact, that June in 2021, Codd went to an NHL scouting camp in Pennsylvania before the Golf Finals, drove overnight back to Forest Akers to play the two championship rounds, won the title, then immediately returned to Pennsylvania to resume the hockey camp.

“On our team, we believe, and TBone (Codd) was a perfect example of it, if there’s any time you have the opportunity to be competitive, it is going to make you a more well-rounded competitor and therefore better at your particular sport,” Dewling said.

“We like hockey players. In the winter, they have to think to where the puck is going, be smart enough to react, and understand how that emotion is going to carry over from one play to the next. When it’s your shift you have to forget about the last shift, or take something from the last shift and put it into the next shift, to have consistent play.

“It’s the same on the golf course,” Dewling continued. “It’s one hole to the next, one shot at a time, being tough, and that’s only going to come from competition reps. We love the athletic ability more so than anything; the toughness and competitiveness all year.”

In addition to Lerch and Pennala starting on varsity golf, they are joined by traditional golfers Matt Doyle, Riley Morton and Andrew Daily, who is committed to Wayne State and finished LPD1 runner-up last spring.

Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. Going into the 2023 golf postseason, Brighton is ranked No. 2 in Division 1. The Bulldogs have won the Next Tee Invite at Oakland Hills, the North Star Invite at Plum Hollow and the KLAA Conference Championship – earning Brighton’s first conference title since 2007. The Bulldogs also were runners-up at The Meadows Invite at Grand Valley State University. The team is averaging 297 for 18 holes.

Oake admitted this is a rebuilding year for Hartland’s golf program. The varsity lineup has only two returning players with varsity golf experience – Keller King and Brady Betteley.

“So, we opted to keep a group of tough competitors with a solid combination of speed and strength – and who are not concerned about the cold conditions that we play in,” Oake quipped.

Five others rotate into the Eagles’ golf starting lineup with King and Betteley: Isaac Frantti is an all-state hockey defensemen playing his first season of golf but shot a career-low 79 at American Dunes recently. He just signed a United State Premier Hockey League tender to play in Connecticut next year. Ian Kastamo scored the winning goal in Hartland’s Division 2 hockey championship victory in 2022, and LJ Sabala is a varsity hockey player as well.

Then there are two non-hockey freshmen getting shots to start occasionally – Dallas Korponic, who finished third at his weight at the Individual Wrestling Finals, and Michael Maurin. Five more sophomores and juniors are hockey players on the JV golf team.

We hope to be competitive with (Brighton) again soon, but they have the talent to make a big splash this year,” Oake said. “I also play golf at the same club as many Brighton players, so I see them quite a bit and we are friendly. When the Brighton team walked by our team on a recent Monday and all said hello to me and our guys, one of my players looked at me and said that this was the biggest difference between hockey and golf. In hockey, the small talk would be (traded) for the ice, and it would not be very nice out there.

“Either way, I believe both sports are filled with fierce competitors and respect, but when the game is over a handshake and a golf hat tip are offered to the victor.”

This story was updated and reposted with permission of

PHOTOS (Top) Brighton takes a team photo after finishing third at last season’s LPD1 Final, and all five golfers are back this season including hockey players Levi Pennala (second from left) and Winston Lerch (second from right.) (Middle) Hartland’s Ian Kastamo (16) takes a faceoff against Brighton this winter. (Below) Mona Shores’ Nicholas Taylor fires an iron shot. (Photos courtesy of High School Sports Scene, Sapshots Photography and Mona Shores’ athletic department, respectively.)