Grand Rapids Christian Keeps to Plan, Finishes Championship Charge

June 10, 2023

FRANKENMUTH – Grand Rapids Christian junior Dylan Clark admitted that, for him at least, Friday night was a rough one.

He’d shot a 73 during the first round of the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final at The Fortress to tie for sixth individually. But his team still trailed leader and two-time reigning champion Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice by 10 strokes despite carding a solid 300.

And yet, Clark and the Eagles were not without hope – they had a plan. And just about to a person, they credited “the plan” for an impressive comeback Saturday that netted the program’s second Finals championship in this sport and first since 2013.

Brother Rice’s Lorenzo Pinili is awarded first place individually.“We were all pretty confident, me myself especially. We knew it would be a long day today – it’s a marathon, not a 100-meter race – and we came in and stuck to the plan,” said sophomore John Cassiday, who tied for sixth individually. “We were sticking to a plan we drew up a couple of weeks ago, staying within our limits and don’t try to do anything special. We knew we were one of the best teams here, and it showed the last couple of holes.”

Grand Rapids Christian followed that Friday 300 with a 295 during the final round, while Brother Rice shot a 307 as the title chase went to the final holes and the Eagles prevailed by two strokes with a two-day 595.

Clark ended up fifth individually after shooting another 73, and freshman teammate Cooper Reitsma was tied for sixth with Cassiday after cutting his Friday score by four strokes (76-72) to also finish with a 148.

Junior Adam Workman didn’t play Friday but stepped into the Eagles’ lineup Saturday and also carded a 73 to help the charge.

“We felt like we had a good chance today because some of our guys didn’t play their best (Friday), and we felt like if we stuck to our plan that we made as a team, we’d get back closer to the mean for us,”  Grand Rapids Christian coach Kevin Broene said. “One of the things we’ve done all year is try to harp on a couple of things that keep us resilient, positive, bouncing back – encouragement – and gosh, if we didn’t embody those things today, I don’t know what day would embody that.

Gaylord’s Kole Putnam tracks a drive.“I’m really proud of the guys for every role that was played today, and they did it.”

Brother Rice’s 307 on Saturday was still the fourth-best score of any team on the weekend – behind only its Friday score and Grand Rapids Christian’s two rounds. Senior Lorenzo Pinili followed up an awe-inspiring 64 from Friday with a 70 on Saturday to finish as medalist after placing second both of the last two seasons. Following him, senior teammate Marcus Lee was the third golfer to tie for sixth individually.

Pinili’s two-day 134 was the lowest two-day tournament score he’d carded in high school golf.

“(Friday’s) round, I was just taking one shot at a time, trusting my shots, trusting my game. My putts were falling yesterday, I was hitting it close yesterday, and everything was going my way. So I was just letting it flow that day,” he said.

“Today was a little bit of an opposite day with the putter – the putter was not as hot. But I still tried to stick with it, tried to let the game flow. I didn’t really worry about anything today.”

Flint Powers Catholic senior Robert Burns gave Pinili a strong chase Friday shooting a 68 on the way to a second-place 141 for the weekend. Gaylord senior Kole Putnam and Stevensville Lakeshore senior Jacob Marohn tied for third at 144.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Rapids Christian’s Cooper Reitsma looks over a putt during Saturday’s second round at The Fortress. (Middle) Brother Rice’s Lorenzo Pinili is awarded first place individually. (Below) Gaylord’s Kole Putnam tracks a drive. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 9, 2024

The Girls & Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played at University of Michigan Lacrosse Stadium for the first time, one of the most notable changes for this season as sports ramp up for more than 100,000 athletes anticipated to participate this spring for Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools.

The MHSAA sponsors postseason competition each spring in baseball, girls and boys lacrosse, girls soccer, softball, girls and boys track & field, boys golf (Lower and Upper Peninsula) and girls golf (UP), and girls (LP) and boys (UP) tennis.

The U-M Lacrosse Stadium opened for competition in 2018 and seats 2,000 spectators. The Girls Lacrosse Finals will be played Friday, June 7, with Division 1 at 4 p.m. and Division 2 at 7 p.m. The Boys Lacrosse Finals will be played the following day, June 8, with Division 2 at 11 a.m. and Division 1 at 2 p.m.

Girls lacrosse also has a significant format adjustment this season, as games will be played with four 12-minutes quarters instead of the previous two halves, in part to allow coaches more opportunities to provide direct instruction during a game. Two more rules changes are expected to improve flow of play – players awarded a free position outside of the critical scoring area no longer must come to a stop and settled stance before self-starting, and false start penalties outside the critical scoring area have been eliminated.

Several more rules changes will be noticeable this spring:

In boys lacrosse, a change was made to enhance player safety. Play will stop immediately any time a player’s helmet comes off, and that player may not return until the next dead ball after play continues.

Fair and legal starts are a continued emphasis for track & field, and a rule change will allow for movement before the start of the race as long as a competitor does not leave their mark with a hand or a foot after the “set” command, or make forward motion before the starting device is activated.

A significant rule change in softball alters pitch delivery mechanics. The pitcher may now have both feet off the ground at the same time when releasing the ball as long as both feet remain within the 24-inch width of a pitching plate and the pitcher does not replant the pivot foot before delivering the pitch.

Another change in softball requires that a playbook/playcard be worn on the wrist or kept in a back pocket to reduce distractions. If worn by the pitcher, the equipment must be worn on the non-pitching arm. Similarly in baseball, a wristband with plays or instructions will be permitted but must be a single, solid color, and for pitchers may not contain the colors white or gray or be otherwise distracting. Baseball players must wear this wristband on the wrist or forearm, and pitchers may wear one only on their non-pitching arm.

Also in baseball, a rule change allows for one-way communication devices worn by the catcher to receive instructions from the dugout while on defense, for the purpose of calling pitches. The coach must be inside the dugout/bench area to use the communication device.

Golfers now are required to participate in at least four competitions for the high school team prior to representing that school team in an MHSAA Regional or Final. Those four regular-season competitions may be 9 or 18-hole events.

In tennis, for the first time in Lower Peninsula play, a No. 1 doubles flight from a non-qualifying team will be able to advance from its Regional to Finals competition. To do so, that No. 1 doubles flight must finish first or second at its Regional, and the No. 1 singles player from that team also must have qualified for the Finals individually by finishing first or second in Regional play.

On the soccer pitch, two officiating-related changes will be especially noticeable. Officials now may stop the clock to check on an injured player without that player being required to leave the match – previously that player would have to sub out. Also, categories for fouls have been redefined: careless (which is a foul but does not receive a card), reckless (a foul with a yellow card) and excessive force (foul with red card). 

The 2023-24 Spring campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Golf and Boys Tennis Finals during the week of May 27 and wraps up with Girls Soccer, Baseball and Softball Finals on June 15. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regional Semifinals – June 5
Regional Finals, Quarterfinals – June 8
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Boys Regionals – May 28-June 1
UP Girls & Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Boys Finals – June 7-8

Boys Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 10-15
Regionals – May 16-29
Quarterfinals – May 31 or June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 8

Girls Lacrosse
Pre-Regionals – May 16-18, or May 20
Regionals – May 22-June 1
Semifinals – June 5
Finals – June 7

Girls Soccer
Districts – May 22-June 1
Regionals – June 4-8
Semifinals – June 11-12
Finals – June 14-15

Districts – May 23-June 1
Regionals – June 8
Quarterfinals – June 11
Semifinals – June 13-14
Finals – June 15

LP Girls Regionals – May 15-18
UP Boys Finals – May 29, 30, 31 or June 1
LP Girls Finals – May 31-June 1

Track & Field
Regionals – May 16-18
Finals – June 1