Everest Collegiate Pulls Away on Second Day

June 10, 2017

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – There couldn’t have been three more appropriate words for Clarkston Everest Collegiate boys golf coach David Smith to describe the past, present and future of his golf program at the moment.

“It’s all good,” Smith said.

No kidding.

The past was already good heading into this weekend’s Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East, since Everest Collegiate entered as the reigning champion.

The present turned out to be good as well, since Everest Collegiate successfully defended its title, accumulating a two-day score of 629 to outlast runner-up Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian by 11 strokes.

If all that weren’t enough, the future could be even brighter for Everest Collegiate since it loses only one golfer from its lineup heading into 2018.

It’s all good, indeed.

As for Saturday’s successful defense of last year’s championship, Everest Collegiate showed its resolve on the second day after finishing in a tie with NorthPointe Christian the first with identical scores of 319.

Everest Collegiate played like a team that had been on the big stage before, seeing three golfers break 80 on the second day, led by sophomore Mitch Lowney’s 71.

Senior Joey McMahon shot a 76 and junior JC James fired a career-best 78 to flank Lowney for the Mountaineers.

Junior Nick Korns added an 85 for Everest Collegiate.

“They couldn’t wait to get here,” Smith said of his team entering the second and final day. “There was not a single guy who was nervous. They all have been to states. They knew exactly what to expect.”

NorthPointe Christian also had three players break 80 on Saturday, led by sophomore Erik Fahlen, Jr., who shot a 75. Junior Hayden VanErmen shot a 78, and junior Logan Holtkamp followed up a round of 71 on Friday also with a round of 78 for NorthPointe Christian, which couldn’t quite match Everest Collegiate’s depth past the first three scorers.

However, none of players in NorthPointe Christian’s lineup were seniors, so everyone should return a year better and wiser in 2018.

“Disappointed that we didn’t win, but it was a good year,” NorthPointe coach Erik Fahlen, Sr., said. “Our four and five guys have never been to the state finals before. We don’t have any seniors in the starting five, so we got a good shot (next year).”

Individually, Clinton sophomore Austin Fauser won the medalist honor after collecting a two-day 139, three under par.

Fauser played as a freshman in the Finals last year and had a clear gameplan for Forest Akers East this week.

“I knew what I needed to do and the shots I needed to hit,” Fauser said. “I practiced all wedge shots throughout the week. It’s a little more open so you can hit driver out here a lot.”

Lowney was the individual runner-up, finishing four shots behind Fauser with a two-day total of 143 (72-71).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Clarkston Everest Collegiate’s Kevin Meehan watches a shot during Saturday’s Division 4 Final second round. (Middle) Another of Saturday’s competitors follows his approach. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Hockey Players Transferring Winter Puck Skills to Spring Golf Swings

By Tom Lang
Special for MHSAA.com

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 MIGolfJournal.com.

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.)