Iron Mountain's Pigeon Holds On to Finish 1st, Hancock Claims Team Title

By Jason Juno
Special for

May 29, 2024

CRYSTAL FALLS – Iron Mountain junior Cooper Pigeon started Wednesday’s Upper Peninsula Division 2 Final with a birdie.

He made sure the rough patch that followed was short lived – and it’s a good thing he did, because Hancock’s Jackson Sintkowski made sure there wasn’t much margin for error.

Pigeon carded a 76, a single stroke ahead of Sintkowski, to win the medalist honor at Young’s Golf Course.

“He has the mindset that he doesn’t let that bother him,” Iron Mountain coach Steve Flaminio said. “He turned it around and got a couple birdies and righted the ship. He figured it out like he always does and started playing pretty strong.”

It wasn’t an easy course, nor was it a perfect day to golf. The sun was out, but it was windy, which could exaggerate any minor errors, Pigeon said.

Some of the pin placements were tough, Flaminio said, and the greens were super fast – Flaminio watched kids three and four putt many times throughout the day. 

“There were some young guys out there struggling. Cooper figured it out, and that was key,” he said.

The Finals title was Pigeon’s first. He knew he had a chance to win after shooting a 73 in his last round at this course.

Hancock’s Jackson Sintkowski follows his drive on the same hole.“But you have to play well, and you can’t get ahead of yourself,” he said. 

The bulk of the U.P. summer awaits him and he plays golf almost daily, so he could certainly be a force to be reckoned with next season as well.

“It’s sweet; hopefully we can get another one next year,” Pigeon said.

Flaminio said the rest of the team was excited for their individual champ because they can see how hard he works at his craft.

“So to see him come home as medalist in the U.P. is pretty awesome,” he said.

Sintkowski, the runner-up from Hancock, did leave with some hardware himself as he led the Bulldogs to their first U.P. Finals team title since they won Division 2 back-to-back in 2013 and 2014.

He was one of four Bulldogs to finish among the top 10 individuals – Bryce Hanner placed fifth with an 83, Kirby Storm was sixth with an 86 and Drew Sturos tied for 10th with an 88.

Hancock competes in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, where it finished runner-up to Division I Houghton throughout much of the season. That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs have been golfing poorly.

“The kids have been playing well all year,” Hancock coach Paul Sintkowski said. 

The Bulldogs came into this tournament with the lowest team average, so they considered themselves the favorites and lived up to that high expectation.

“We had the guys to get it done today, but you still got to get it done,” said Sintkowski, who earned his first U.P. team title in nine years of coaching. “They got it done today. I’m real proud of these guys.”

Hancock was led by the West-PAC Player of the Year, Jackson Sintkowski, a junior. And their team got a big boost this season when Hanner decided to join the golf team.

“Bryce Hanner was a nice addition to our team this year,” Coach Sintkowski said of the senior. “He decided to play golf this year, and that really bolstered our lineup down the stretch. It gave an extra solid player where we could always count on a good score for him.”

Painesdale Jeffers finished as the team runner-up, 15 strokes behind Hancock, 333-348. St. Ignace was third, Iron Mountain fourth and Munising fifth.

Owen Kuehnau of Stephenson carded an 81 to take third place individually, and St. Ignace’s Sawyer Graham was fourth with an 82.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Iron Mountain's Cooper Pigeon drives on No. 14 at Young’s Golf Course on Wednesday. (Middle) Hancock’s Jackson Sintkowski follows his drive on the same hole. (Photos by Jason Juno.)

State Champs! Network: 2024 Lower Peninsula Boys Golf Finals Highlights

June 13, 2024