Preview: Last Year's Second-Best Seeking to Take Final Championship Step

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 8, 2022

The 2021 runners-up very well could be the story of this weekend’s 2022 Lower Peninsula Boys Golf Finals.

Detroit Catholic Central in Division 1, Flint Powers Catholic in Division 2, Big Rapids in Division 3 and Lansing Christian in Division 4 all finished second last season but return among favorites this weekend. Three individual champions from last year moved on, but the runners-up in those divisions are expected to be among the strongest contenders this time as well.

But no one is sleeping on the returning champions. Ann Arbor Skyline entered the postseason top-ranked in Division 1, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice and Grand Rapids Catholic Central shot the best Regional scores last week in Divisions 2 and 3, respectively, and Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep is a top-five ranked team in Division 4 once again. And the one 2021 individual champion returning this weekend – Clarkston Everest Collegiate’s Remy Stalcup – also shot the Regional low among individuals in all divisions to qualify this time.

See below for more on a number of teams and individuals who could be in contention, and check out the MHSAA Website for full lineups and more. (Rankings are via iWanamaker at the end of the regular season.)

Division 1 at Ferris State’s Katke Golf Course

Top-ranked: 1. Ann Arbor Skyline, 2. Muskegon Mona Shores, 3. Traverse City Central

Nine teams shot Regional scores of 310 or lower, which could indicate a strong, close competition this weekend. No. 5 Detroit Catholic Central (289) and No. 7 Northville (298) led the way, finishing first and second, respectively, at Salem Hills in Northville. They were followed by No. 6 Brighton at Salem Hills, with No. 4 Novi missing qualification on a tie-break. Ann Arbor Skyline is coming off its first Finals championship and entered the postseason ranked No. 1 again. Mona Shores didn’t qualify as a team last season but has returned seeking its first team title since 2005, and a Traverse City Central championship would be that program’s first since 1996 and before Traverse City West opened.

Ann Arbor Skyline: The Eagles return three of their top five from last year, and the top four at this season’s Regional were a sophomore and three juniors. That sophomore, Ieuan Jones, tied for second individually at last season’s Finals and was the individual Regional champ last week at Cascades in Jackson. Skyline shot 300 overall to win the Regional team title by 22 strokes, with junior Mitchell Strickland individual runner-up and junior Hank Roebuck seventh.

Detroit Catholic Central: The Shamrocks’ winning Regional score included performances from the first and second-place (tied) individuals, senior Peter Stassinopoulos and sophomore Julian Menser, respectively. All five golfers placed among the top 14 individuals, with senior Liam Casey next in 10th. DCC was the Finals runner-up last season and brings back four of its top six players from that team this weekend.

Muskegon Mona Shores: The Sailors shot a 309 to finish runner-up by a stroke to No. 8 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern at last week’s Regional at Stonegate in Muskegon. But Mona was led by junior Nicholas Taylor, who tied for first individually (but finished second after a tie-breaker) and was that individual Finals qualifier last year. Senior Chase Knowlton also was a top-10 Regional finisher, placing seventh.

Other individuals of note: Jones is joined by only two others from last season’s Finals top 10 – Forest Hills Northern senior Jack Zubkus, who also tied for second, and Rochester Adams sophomore Peter Roehl, who tied for sixth. Stassinopoulos (69), Lake Orion freshman Connor Fox (69) and Troy senior Benjamin Wu (69) broke 70 with their Regional rounds last week. Fox defeated Wu in a tie-breaker and Portage Central junior Ethan Tiller defeated Shores’ Taylor in theirs, and Fox and Tiller with Stassinopoulos and Jones were joined among Regional champions by Grosse Pointe North senior Niko Karoutsos and Oxford senior Chase Maier.

Division 2 at The Meadows at Grand Valley State

Top-ranked: 1. South Lyon East, 2. Richland Gull Lake, 3. Chelsea

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice won last season’s championship by 28 strokes and was the only Division 2 team last week to break 300 at Regionals, shooting a 289. Last season’s Finals runner-up, Flint Powers Catholic, posted the second-lowest Regional score last week at 303. Powers last won a Finals in 2018. South Lyon East, Gull Lake and Chelsea all are seeking first Finals championships, with Chelsea coming in fifth and Gull Lake ninth last spring.

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice: Last year’s Warriors were paced by three top-seven individual Finals finishers, Two are back this weekend and were part of all five golfers placing among the top eight at the Regional at Huron Meadows in Brighton. Junior Lorenzo Pinili – second at last year’s Final – won last week’s Regional, and senior Matt Baer – who tied for seventh at that Final – finished fourth at the Regional. They were joined at the Regional by freshman Leandro Pinili tied for second, junior Marcus Lee in fifth and senior Kyle Gruley tied for eighth. Brother Rice entered the postseason ranked No. 14 and was followed at the Regional by No. 7 Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

Flint Powers Catholic: The No. 4 Chargers edged No. 13 DeWitt by four strokes at the Regional at The Emerald at St. Johns, with junior Robert Burns the medalist and senior Luke Cramer tied for sixth. Burns tied for fifth at last year’s Final. He, Cramer, junior Kyle Barbour and senior Chris Jones were the top four scorers from last season’s runner-up team finish.

South Lyon East: The Cougars will travel to the Finals as a team after sending an individual last year. East finished second at the Lakes of Taylor Regional to Chelsea, two strokes back, but with all five golfers among the top 14 individual finishers. That individual Finals qualifier from 2021, now-sophomore Ryan Kruschka, finished third at the Regional last week, with freshman Kameron Knox tied for fourth and senior Chase Temple ninth.

Other individuals of note: Although the 2021 champion graduated, six of the top 10 finishers from last season’s Final are back led by Lorenzo Pinili and Spring Lake senior Evan McDermott (third). They, Burns and Baer are joined by Grand Rapids Northview senior Colin Beckett (tied for seventh) and Williamston senior Sam Havey (tied for ninth). Pinili (69), Burns (69) and McDermott (69) all broke 70 at their Regionals last week and were joined as Regional champions by Dearborn Divine Child senior Adam Hammoud, Richland Gull Lake senior Bryce Wheeler and Hamilton junior Eli Timmerman, who defeated Hudsonville Unity Christian sophomore Colin Nieuwenhuis in a tie-breaker.

Division 3 at The Fortress in Frankenmuth

Top-ranked: 1. Ann Arbor Greenhills, 2. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, 3. Traverse City St. Francis

Six teams have won the Division 3 championship over the last six seasons, with the lone constant Big Rapids as the runner-up the last four seasons (not counting COVID-canceled 2020). Grand Rapids Catholic Central won last year’s title by 17 strokes and was ranked No. 6 at the start of this postseason, while Big Rapids entered the postseason outside the top 15 but has advanced to this weekend. GRCC had the lowest Division 3 Regional score last week at 308, with Greenhills next at 319.

Ann Arbor Greenhills: Seniors Beau Brewer and Cale Piedmonte-Lang played in last season’s Final as individual qualifiers and are back among leaders of this year’s team. The Gryphons shot a 319 at the Regional at Grosse Ile’s West Shore to edge No. 7 Grosse Ile by two strokes. Brewer was the medalist, sophomore Max Shulman was third and Piedmonte-Lang tied four fourth.

Big Rapids: Despite not making the top 15 at the end of the regular season, Big Rapids has earned this conversation – and especially after winning its Regional at Houghton Lake’s Quest two strokes ahead of St. Francis and 11 ahead of No. 13 Boyne City. Now-senior Luke Welch finished 11th at last year’s Final and was third at last week’s Regional, with junior Kyle Schroeder and sophomore Preston Younge tied for eighth at Quest.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central: The Cougars won last year’s Final without a top-10 individual but with four between 12th and 25th – and four players who golfed at least one round are set to be back this weekend. GRCC won the Regional last week at Montague’s Old Channel Trail by 18 strokes, with sophomore Will Preston the medalist, senior Luke Preston tied for third, sophomore Matthew Sokorai fifth and senior John Harmon tied for seventh.

Other individuals of note: Grosse Ile senior Anthony Naso was Regional runner-up to Greenhills’ Brewer last week, and tied for second at last year’s Final. The only other returnees from last season’s top 10 are Saginaw Swan Valley junior Ashton DiBlasi, who tied for fifth, and Belding senior Mason Anderson, who tied for eighth. Joining Will Preston and Brewer among Regional champs were Millington freshman Bryce Martin, Bath senior Ethan Swenson, Traverse City St. Francis senior Tommy Puetz and Quincy junior Sam Sawyer. Puetz defeated Boyne City senior Kolton Stadt in a tie-breaker for that medalist honor.

Division 4 at Michigan State’s Forest Akers West

Top-ranked: 1. Clarkston Everest Collegiate, 2. Lansing Christian, 3. Maple City Glen Lake

Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep has won the last two Division 4 titles (in 2021 and 2019), last season by six strokes, and entered this postseason ranked No. 5 despite graduating four of last season’s top five golfers. Everest Collegiate is another regular with titles in 2016 and 2017 and the runner-up finish in 2018. The Mountaineers had the lowest Regional score in the division last week at 306, followed by Lansing Christian at 314 and Glen Lake at 323. Lansing Christian and Glen Lake are playing for their first title.

Clarkston Everest Collegiate: Although Everest missed the Finals as a team last season, Remy Stalcup was the individual champion by seven strokes, and he shot the lowest Regional score in any division last week – a 65 at Fountains in Clarkston to lead the Mountaineers to a 40-stroke team victory. Stalcup was joined in the top 10 at the Regional by freshman Parker Stalcup (fourth), senior Johnny Nedwick (tied for sixth) and freshman Will Pennanen (10th).

Lansing Christian: The Pilgrims had a similarly-dominating Regional performance at Calderone in Jackson, finishing 19 strokes ahead of a field that included No. 10 Hillsdale Academy and No. 15 Hudson. All five golfers finished among the top 15 individuals, and the four scorers were among the top six – senior medalist Davis Garrett, junior Baylor Brogan tied for second, senior William Combs in fifth and senior Caden Kinnas in sixth. Senior Isaac Haley was that 15th-place finisher, and those five were the same who took the Pilgrims to a team runner-up Finals finish in 2021. Garrett was third individually and Combs eighth at last season’s Final.

Maple City Glen Lake: The Lakers cut 21 strokes from their first to second rounds at last year’s Final to finish fourth, and two golfers from that lineup return with a talented freshman added to the mix. Now-junior Blake O’Connor tied for ninth at that Final and was second at last week’s Regional at Antrim Hills in Charlevoix as all five Glen Lake golfers placed seventh or higher. Freshman Michael Houtteman was the medalist, senior Jackson Zywicki was fifth, and junior Garrett Moss and senior Billy Rosa tied for seventh. As a team, Glen Lake finished 16 strokes ahead of runner-up and No. 6-ranked Charlevoix.

Other individuals of note: As noted above, Remy Stalcup, Garrett, Combs and O’Connor are back from last season’s top 10, joined by Saginaw Nouvel Catholic senior Luke LeBourdais (tied for fourth) and Royal Oak Shrine Catholic senior Jeffrey Andrus (tied for ninth). Joining Stalcup, Garrett and Houtteman as Regional champs were LeBourdais, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian freshman Davis Formsma and Grandville Calvin Christian senior Matthew Turcotte. Andrus shot a 72 to finish Regional runner-up to Stalcup.

Saline's Williams-Hoak Named National Coach of the Year by LPGA Professionals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 20, 2022

The LPGA Professionals have named Saline High School golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak as its national Coach of the Year.

Williams-Hoak was among national award winners who were selected by the LPGA Professionals’ executive committee from a pool of Section Award winners, which were voted on by officers of those regional sections.

More on the award from LPGA Professionals:

The LPGA Professionals Coach of the Year Award was established in 1980 and is awarded annually to an LPGA Professionals member who is actively engaged in teaching and/or coaching golf at the collegiate or high school level.

LPGA Professionals Class A member Debbie Williams-Hoak knows what it takes to compete at the highest levels. She is a former LPGA Tour Player and track & field athlete who represented U.S. Track & Field in Russia and West Germany. She is a four-time Big Ten Champion, a member of the Ohio Track & Field Hall of Fame, University of Michigan Women’s Track Hall of Fame member and a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame as a player, coach and teaching professional. This year, she is being inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.

Having been a multi-sport athlete accustomed to competing at the highest level, Williams-Hoak brings something unique to her coaching style. She has successfully coached boys and girls golf for the past 16 years at Saline High School in Saline, Michigan, and currently is serving as the first female president of the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association. Williams-Hoak feels proud that every girl on her team shot career lows while maintaining 100-percent academic eligibility this season, while her boys team placed second in the conference championship and qualified for its second-straight state Finals appearance.

She is dedicated to instilling a lifelong love of the game while empowering students through golf and hopes her example will pave the way for other women coaches to lead as well.

Williams-Hoak received the 2017 Sandy LaBauve Spirit Award, the most coveted honor bestowed by LPGA*USGA Girls Golf, for her continued dedication and passion for empowering girls through golf.  She was honored with the Midwest Youth Leader of the Year and Goldie Bateson Award two times, in addition to numerous recognitions as Coach of the Year from Saline High School.

She is deeply involved with the LPGA Professionals organization, which she currently serves as the LPGA Midwest Secretary since 2021. She has been site director for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf of Greater Washtenaw Country since 2015 and acted as an advisor for the Site Director Certification program in 2021. From 2018-2021, she worked as an expert committee member for LPGA*USGA Girls Golf.  She also coached at the LPGA Leadership Academies in Michigan over the last two years.

"I am extremely humbled by this award, as there are so many outstanding LPGA coaches in our association. What an honor to represent the LPGA, the state of Michigan and the game of golf as a coach,” said Williams-Hoak. “It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful players who make coaching so rewarding. I am also fortunate to have such great fellow coaches in Michigan and throughout the LPGA. Thank you so much for this very special recognition."

PHOTO: Saline golf coach Debbie Williams-Hoak, far left, stands for the trophy shot with her girls team after the Hornets won the 2016 Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship. (MHSAA file photo)