Eichhorn, Carney-Nadeau Repeat in D3

June 2, 2016

By Amanda Chaperon
Special for Second Half

GLADSTONE – On Wednesday, Carney-Nadeau’s Hunter Eichhorn took the afternoon off school to play a practice round at Irish Oaks in Gladstone, where the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 3 Finals would be played the next day.

Last year, when Eichhorn won medalist for the second year in a row, he shot a 68 at that same course.

And Wednesday was no different. His practice round yielded a 69, so it's safe to say he was feeling pretty good heading into Thursday's round.

Unfortunately, his putting was nowhere close to what he would have liked. But that didn't stop Eichhorn from taking medalist honors for the third year in a row with an 18-hole score of 75.

“He's a tremendous kid,” Wolves coach Jake Polfus said. “He has a tremendous work ethic. He puts all the time in to be this good. You don't see that in many kids in any sport around here. He deserves everything he gets. He had a rough day today, but for him that's not that bad. That's where he's grown the most, is how he manages his golf game.”

Throughout the course of the season, Eichhorn has competed against himself. At most events, he was far-and-away the best golfer on the links. On Thursday, however, he had some competition from Cedarville's Avery Freel, who fell to Eichhorn by just two strokes carding a 77.

“I felt good about Avery's game today,” Cedarville coach Rob Freel said. “And I know he had the potential to give Hunter a run for his money. After 15 holes, they were all square. I knew it was probably going to come right down to the wire. Avery kind of had a bad tee shot on 16 and he ended up with a double bogey there, so that was a momentum-stopper for him.

“They're competitive players, and they both came right down to the wire,” coach Freel added. “Avery just fell a little short.”

Avery Freel's overall strategy was a pretty good one considering he was neck-and-neck with the two-time champ with three holes to play.

“I was just trying to match him shot for shot pretty much,” Avery said. “Overall, I thought I played pretty good. I shot even on the front (nine) and then I was just trying to stay with him, and on 16 I had that double (bogey) and that's when it fell apart.”

Despite the fact Freel was going up against “the champ” and one of the best prep golfers in the entire U.P. in any division, he didn't feel he had to change his game.

“It's not hard,” Freel said with a laugh. “You just play your own game.”

Which is exactly what his opponent, Eichhorn, did to earn himself the honor of top player at the tournament, and also help his team to its second straight U.P. Finals title.

Well, that, and knock in a few crucial putts.

One of those big putts was to birdie No. 17, a par three. While Eichhorn’s putts down the stretch saved him, he wasn't impressed with his short game overall.

“My putting was brutal,” he said with a laugh. “I made the two biggest putts that I had to make, but other than that, I didn't make anything.

“I played a lot better last year,” he added. “And I played here a lot better yesterday (Wednesday). I was getting beat by Avery with I think four holes to go, but I made those big putts to secure the win and to help our team win.”

The Wolves totaled a 344, comprised of scores from Eichhorn, Mason Linder (87), Cameron Kuntze (89), and Kage Linder (93).

“I think the way they practice is a huge strength,” Polfus said. “You know, how much time they put into it. And our one through five. We used our fifth golfer's score today instead of our number four, so I just think that helps out a lot. I feel like we're deep, and just their work ethic is always a good thing.”

Avery Freel's score factored into his team's runner-up finish. The Trojans shot a combined 358, helped also by Mike Haske (93), Chase Fisher (94), and Trevor Kohlmann (94).

The top five individual scores were rounded out by Mitchell Borseth of Ontonagon in third with a score of 81, followed by Painesdale-Jeffers' Jacob Zerbst with an 82 and Lake Linden-Hubbell's Jason Sutherland with an 83.

The Wolves and Trojans were followed in the team standings by Chassell with a score of 361, Ontonagon with a 362 and Painesdale-Jeffers with a 374.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Carney-Nadeau's Hunter Eichhorn watches his drive on hole No. 15 at Irish Oaks Golf Club in Gladstone during Thursday's Division 3 U.P. Final. Eichhorn was medalist with a 75. (Middle) Cedarville's Avery Freel putts on hole No. 17. Freel finished second overall with a 77. (Photos by Amanda Chaperon.)

Saline's Williams-Hoak Named National Coach of the Year by LPGA Professionals

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 20, 2022

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)