Mercier Claims 2nd Finals Title, Leads North Central to 1st Team Championship

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 3, 2022

HYDE — Bryson Mercier has gotten used to the idea of finishing on top of the leaderboard throughout his high school golf career.

The Powers North Central senior achieved that again here Thursday, shooting an even-par 71 for his third consecutive Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final title on a sunny and breezy day at Highland Golf Club.

Mercier’s achievements were part of an historic day for the North Central boys program, which was crowned U.P. Finals team champion for the first time with 350 strokes.

“I didn’t swing the clubs very well today,” said Mercier, who will play golf at South Dakota State University next season. “I had good drives, but every time I got on the greens I was 30 feet away. I couldn’t get any birdies.

“You just have to stay patient in a round like this. I was three under on the last six holes. I finished strong. I started hitting the ball a little better.”

North Central was the Division 3 runner-up a season ago, finishing just two strokes behind champion Chassell.

Ontonagon edged Watersmeet 397-399 for the runner-up trophy.

Mercier also was the Division 3 individual champion in 2019 as a sophomore. 

“This is great for the kids and the school,” said Jets coach Scott Farnsworth. “We’ve had some decent teams. This is icing on the cake, especially for Bryson as a senior. This is something that was really nice to have. The individual title was nice, but winning as a team was awesome.”

Mercier, who fired a two-under-par 34 on the back nine, was followed by Rock Mid Peninsula junior Michael Englund and Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Marcus Sutherland at 89.

“The course was a little tougher today,” Mercier said. “The wind was little bit of a factor, and the greens were a little slow – although they do a good job keeping this course in shape.”

Alex Pipkorn and Landen Hansen both shot 90 to tie for fourth individually for the Jets. Austin Farley rounded out the champion’s scoring with a 17th-place individual finish.

Will Immonen, Jerald Majurin and Jack Nelson all carded 98 to tie for 12th individually and lead Ontonagon. Miles McGeshick shot a 91 to tie for sixth, and Dari Hazen came in ninth with a 95 to lead Watersmeet.

Ontonagon most recently was champion back-to-back season in 2018-19.

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PHOTO Powers North Central’s boys golf team holds up its first MHSAA Finals championship trophy earned in the sport. (Photo by Todd Rose.)

Mid Peninsula's Boys Sweep UPD3 Titles, Including 1st Team Championship

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 1, 2023

HYDE – The Rock Mid Peninsula boys won their first Upper Peninsula Finals boys golf championship Thursday, earning it in Division 3 at Highland Golf Club near Escanaba.

The Wolverines finished with a score of 324, 13 strokes fewer than runner-up Ontonagon.

“It’s the first time in school history for us, so we’re pretty excited about it,” Mid Pen coach Earlene VanDamme said. “The kids put a lot of work into this year.”

They did it with three golfers among the individual top five, led by medalist Bradly VanDamme, who shot a 77, and tournament runner-up Michael Englund, who carded a 78. Christian VanDamme was close behind with an 81, which was good for a fifth-place tie.

Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. The three golfers have shot consistently around 80 all year. 

“Our top three boys were pretty equivalent. They were within one or two strokes of each other,” Coach VanDamme said. “I kept messing with the order. It didn’t matter where I put them, it always ended up that they were just all always kind of consistent.”

Bradly VanDamme said he has been shooting consistently in the 80s. He shot an 80 here during a practice round. 

“So a 77 today was huge,” he said. “I never expected to play as good as I did today.”

Fixing a key part of his game helped.

“I got off the tee well; usually that’s my struggle,” VanDamme said. “But every tee, I just thought, if I can keep this one in play and keep it in the fairway, then this course is pretty easy if you can keep it in the fairway.”

He said he was happiest about the team title.

“It’s great. All the guys are really excited. That was our goal coming into this – we didn’t care how we all individually placed, we just wanted to win as a team,” he said.

Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round.That’s the way team leaders think.

“Bradly is a strong leader for the team,” Coach VanDamme said. “He continuously is just prepping the team, saying, ‘Come on guys, this is about the team score. We all need to do this.’”

His brother Christian VanDamme was just four strokes behind him.

“It helps that (Bradly’s) brother is on the team because he is very competitive with him,” said Coach VanDamme, who also is Bradly and Christian’s mother. “And they put a lot of extra practice in trying to better themselves, so they do practice a lot.”

Ontonagon was team runner-up for the second year in a row.

The Gladiators were led by Abi Pestka, who finished in third place and shot an 80, and Jerry Majurin, who tied Christian VanDamme with an 81.

“That’s the best the boys have done as a group,” Ontonagon coach Jim Jessup said. “Everybody was fairly close in terms of their scores.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Rock Mid Peninsula celebrates its first UP Finals championship in boys golf Thursday. (Middle) Big Bay de Noc’s Nick Desjarden watches a tee shot at Highland Golf Club. (Below) Watersmeet’s Edmond Williams putts during his round. (Photos by Jason Juno.)