No. 5 Leads Lansing Catholic to Repeat

June 7, 2014

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

ALLENDALE – The return of three players from last year’s MHSAA championship squad produced similar expectations this season for the Lansing Catholic boys golf team.

The Cougars were able to duplicate last year’s feat, winning the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final on Saturday at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University.

Lansing Catholic made it back-to-back titles by firing a 633 total. Runner-up Jackson Lumen Christi finished eight shots back and shot a 641, while Kalkaska was third at 645.

“The mindset going into the season with the players we had back was to repeat,” Cougars coach Charlie Furney said. “From the very beginning, that was our goal, and I think the key to this year compared to last year was they all lowered their stroke averages.

“We averaged 10 strokes better this year for every 18 holes we played, and we did that because of depth. All five of our kids could score in the 70s anytime they wanted.”

Ironically, it was a player who didn’t compete in last year’s Finals that set the tone for Lansing Catholic.

Junior Patrick Gillespie, the team’s No. 5 player, led the Cougars and tied for fourth individually after shooting a 152 with rounds of 77 and 75.

“It’s been an awesome couple of days,” Gillespie said. “I didn’t get to play in the state finals last year, and that’s what pushed me to get there this year. I hit it straight the last two days, and my drives were really good.”

Furney was impressed by Gillespie’s play, which made the coach reconsider his all-state nominees.

“He carried us, and he had a mission,” Furney said. “He told me at the beginning of the tournament, ‘if I shoot a couple scores in the 70s do you think you can put me up for all-state?’ because he was our fifth guy and I was thinking about putting four up. So he obviously convinced me that I’m going to have to put him up.”

Lansing Catholic’s lone senior, Brent Marshall, placed eighth overall at 156 and carded rounds of 75 and 81, while junior Niko Voutsaras shot 160 (75-85) and sophomore Owen Rush had a 164 (85-79).

“Knowing that we pretty much had our entire team coming back, we knew we had a good chance of winning a state championship and that was the goal all year,” Marshall said. “That’s how we prepared in each tournament. Just go out there and win, and we did that pretty consistently.”

Marshall said improved depth was a major factor in the team’s success. It was the program’s sixth Finals title. 

“That’s been a major theme the entire year,” he said. “Knowing you have great players who are going to back you up takes a lot of the pressure off, especially when you know you’re not playing your best.”

The Cougars fired an impressive 313 in the first round to open up an eight-stroke gap. They shot 320 on Saturday, and the lead proved too much for their competitors to overcome. 

“(Friday) was very important,” Marshall said. “We knew we had to jump out to an early lead, and that’s what Coach was telling us the entire week.”

Jackson Lumen Christi began the final round in fourth place, but jumped to second after recording a tournament-low 317. 

It was the Titans’ second straight runner-up finish after winning four straight Finals from 2009-2012.

Junior Henry Hitt shot a 150 (74-76) and placed runner-up to individual champion Scott Sparks of Macomb Lutheran North. 

Junior Tyler Moser carded a 161 (81-80), while senior Patrick Campbell (85-79) and senior Jacob Anuszkiewicz (86-82) also contributed.

“We’re really pleased with how everything turned out,” Lumen Christi coach Charles Saines said. “At the beginning of the year we returned some experience, but not a lot of experience. We had two that had been to the state finals, so to finish second is remarkable for our squad. They showed a lot of heart and set the low round of the day.” 

Sparks, a sophomore, shot a stellar 5-under 67 on Friday and carded a 76 on Saturday to cruise to his first title.

He finished with a 1-under 143 total and was the only golfer to shoot under par. 

“Amazing, and I’ve been dreaming about this,” Sparks said. “My brother came in second here, and I always wanted to beat him. To win a state championship is unreal, and it really hasn’t set in yet. I’m sure when I go to a tournament down in Kentucky (on Sunday) that it will set in a little bit.”

Sparks was 5-under on the back Friday to gain control. He led by six shots entering Saturday.

“I just wanted to play steady and play my game,” Sparks said. “I got a little mad at myself when I had a bogey or two, but I came back with a birdie and played steady.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Lansing Catholic stands at The Meadows scoreboard after winning its second straight Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship. (Middle) A competitor lines up a putt during Saturday’s second round. (Click to see more at

Pinili Aiming to Add Medalist Honor as Brother Rice Seeks Finals 3-Peat

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

June 8, 2023

The phrase the “third time is a charm” might often be trite and overplayed, but it also couldn’t apply more to Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice senior golfer Lorenzo Pinili.

Greater DetroitTwo years ago as a sophomore, Pinili finished as the individual runner-up at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final, five shots out of first at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek.

Last year, Pinili was the runner-up again at Grand Valley State, valiantly rallying from an opening-round score of 76 to shoot a 68 on the second day at The Meadows, but still ending six shots behind.

Both years, Brother Rice won the team title, so Pinili still left happy.

But no doubt, he hopes the third time will be the charm from an individual point of view when he competes at this weekend’s Division 2 Final at The Fortress in Frankenmuth.

“This year, I definitely have a lot more motivation to finish first,” he said. “It’s a lot of patience. That’s what it is. I just have to trust my game and not really force anything. That’s what most people try to do. If they know they want to get a win or know they want to play well, they’re going to start forcing shots that’s out of their comfort zone or do stuff they don’t really do.”

Pinili, who will play collegiately at Michigan State, has been hitting a lot of good shots throughout a golfing life that started when he was 2 years old. 

In fact, while Pinili has no recollection of the moment he took up the game, his father Rommel has reminded him constantly throughout his life.

“He said that I picked up a stick while the TV was on and I tried to copy what was on TV,” Pinili said. “From there, he gave me a plastic club, and he gave me real balls. He thought I was making good contact. From there, he gave me real metal clubs, and I was able to hit balls. There’s actually a video on YouTube that you can find of me hitting golf balls at the range when I was 2. From there, it’s been with me my whole entire life.”

Pinili said if there’s one area of his game that has evolved more than any other since he began high school, it’s performing when the stakes are the highest.

The Warriors celebrate their second-straight team title, including Pinili (standing, third from left) and his younger brother Leandro (standing, fourth from right

Brother Rice associate coach David Sass echoed those sentiments about Pinili’s enhanced ability to stay even-keeled mentally under pressure.

“He has a tendency to have such a high level of expectation for his game, that can kind of prohibit him from looking beyond a simple mistake,” he said. “He’s been really good about doing that lately. Golf is very hard, and it’s really about managing your mistakes. Perfection is basically unattainable in golf. If he stays patient, understands that, picks his spots on when to be aggressive, is aggressive in that moment, and then plays it smart during moments he shouldn’t be aggressive, I think he’s got an incredible chance to win this thing.”

One of the biggest competitors for Pinili this weekend could be someone in the same household.

Leandro Pinili, a sophomore, finished in a tie for ninth last year at the LPD2 Tournament, and definitely helps push Lorenzo to greater heights in the game.

“We share a lot of passion with the game together, and sometimes it gets a little too competitive just because he wants to beat me and I can’t let him beat me,” Lorenzo said. “It’s really nice having someone besides me who understands the side of golf that I understand. It’s also really fun being able to play with my brother and compete with him. I really love it, and that’s one of the biggest things I’m going to miss about Brother Rice golf.”

And no doubt, Brother Rice will definitely miss Lorenzo Pinili when he finishes his high school career on Saturday at a course he is looking forward to playing because it will require precise shots.

“I think it will separate the best from the rest of the pack,” he said. “You really can’t get away with anything out there.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) Brother Rice's Lorenzo Pinili, right, tees off during the 2022 LP Division 1 Finals as Grand Rapids Christian's Adam Workman follows his shot. (Middle) The Warriors celebrate their second-straight team title, including Pinili (standing, third from left) and his younger brother Leandro (standing, fourth from right). Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)