Preview: While 1 New Champ Guaranteed, Field Filled with Familiar Contenders

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 8, 2023

At least one new team champion will be celebrated at this weekend’s Lower Peninsula Boys Golf Finals, while three teams from the Detroit Catholic League will be seeking repeats although they will be met by several more contenders when play begins Friday.

The individual races also have familiar favorites with plenty of valuable Finals experience. Runners-up from all four divisions will be playing to take the final step this weekend, including both who tied for second in Division 1 a year ago.

Play begins both Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. See below for more on a number of teams and individuals who could be in contention, and check out the Boys Golf page for full lineups and more. (Rankings are via iWanamaker at the end of the regular season.)

Division 1 at The Meadows of Grand Valley State

Top-ranked: 1. Ann Arbor Skyline, 2. Brighton, 3. Traverse City Central.

Skyline won the championship in 2021 and was runner-up last season to Detroit Catholic Central, only two strokes back and as the only team to clear 300 strokes both rounds. Brighton is seeking its first championship ever and first top-two finish since 1967, and Traverse City Central is pursuing what would be its first championship since 1996, before Traverse City High split into two schools. Nine teams broke 310 across the six Regionals last week, with DCC’s 288 at Salem Hills in Northville easily the lowest score.

Ann Arbor Skyline: The Eagles shot a 301 to win the Regional at Pine View in Ypsilanti by 34 strokes, led by three golfers who were part of last season’s runner-up Finals finish – junior Vibhav Alokam and seniors Andrew Slade and Hank Roebuck – as all five Skyline golfers finished among the individual top five and ties for the fifth spot. Alokam was the Regional champ with a 71 after tying for sixth at last season’s Final, where Roebuck was just one stroke out of the top 15. Alokam also was the team’s second-lowest scorer at the 2021 Finals win.

Brighton: The Bulldogs have climbed from seventh to third at the Finals over the last two seasons and will return all five golfers this weekend from last year’s run – with three of those five also on the 2021 team. Brighton finished second at Salem Hills to DCC, shooting a 296, with senior Andrew Daily fourth at 69 and senior Winston Lerch tied for seventh at 74. Daily tied for second at last season’s Final.

Traverse City Central: The Trojans have dominated in Northern Michigan this spring and continued during a Regional trip south to Currie West in Midland, where they won by four strokes shooting a 309. Central has improved from tied for ninth to sixth over the last two Finals and will bring four players back this weekend from last season’s contender. Senior Michael Beattie tied for fourth at the Regional with a 75, and senior Mack Shane tied for eighth at 77.

Individuals: Daily and Alokam are joined by East Lansing junior Drew Miller (tied for second) and DCC junior Julian Menser (eighth) among returnees from last year’s Final top 10. Menser won the Salem Hills Regional with a 66 and is the only returnee from last season’s DCC championship lineup. Miller was third at the Currie West Regional, won by Holt senior Zach Johnson. Portage Central senior Ethan Tiller, Rochester Adams junior Peter Roehl and Warren De La Salle sophomore Max Teschendorf also were Regional champions last week, and South Lyon East junior Ryan Kruschka (67) and Northville senior Mason Sokolowski (68) also broke 70 in finishing second and third, respectively, to Menser. Mattawan junior Matthew Novak was second to Tiller at Sunnybrook in Grandville and tied for ninth at last year’s LPD2 Final.

Division 2 at The Fortress in Frankenmuth

Top-ranked: 1. Grand Rapids Christian, 2. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, 3. Richland Gull Lake.

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice has won the last two Division 2 championships and finished runner-up to St. Mary’s at last week’s Regional at Huron Meadows Metropark in Brighton with three members of last year’s championship lineup finishing seventh individually (with ties) or higher. The Warriors shot a 300, but St. Mary’s shot a 293 that was the low for all Division 2 Regionals. Grand Rapids Christian also broke 300, shooting a 296 at Diamond Springs in Hamilton as it pursues its first Finals title since 2013. Vicksburg shot a 299 at Coldwater Golf Course and is pursuing its first top-two finish after tying for 17th a year ago.

Grand Rapids Christian: The Eagles didn’t have a senior in their Regional lineup but placed four among the top five individuals (with ties) including sophomore John Cassiday and junior Maxwell O’Grady, who tied for first. They were part of last season’s fourth-place Finals lineup, and juniors Adam Workman and Dylan Clark also are back among the top five this spring after finishing tied for fifth and tied for 16th, respectively, at last year’s Final.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s: The Eaglets were ninth a year ago with just one senior and four underclassmen, and three of those four are back this weekend. Juniors Cooper Eaton and Ben Carroll led the Regional title charge tying for second individually at Huron Meadows, with sophomores Ethan Mukhtar and Mason Shea placing sixth and tied for seventh, respectively.

Richland Gull Lake: Last season’s runner-up team graduated the individual medalist, but returns the rest of the lineup this weekend after finishing third at Coldwater. Junior Beau Carr is the newcomer but was the team’s low scorer at the Regional as he tied for fourth.

Individuals: Total five of the top 12 (as three players tied for 10th) from last season are back in the field, led by Brother Rice senior Lorenzo Pinili after he tied for second in 2022 and finished second outright in 2021. He won the Huron Meadows Regional individual championship in a tie-breaker hole. Sophomore Leandro Pinili tied for fourth at the Regional and tied for ninth at last year’s Final. Adrian junior Carson Ritz returns after finishing fourth a year ago, as does Gaylord senior Kole Putnam after tying for fifth. Other individual Regional champions last week were Ritz, Grand Rapids Northview sophomore William Pollack, Vicksburg senior Josiah McClelland and Flint Powers Catholic senior Robert Burns. Burns tied for 12th and Pollack for 14th at last season’s Final, and Burns tied for fifth in 2021.

Division 3 at Michigan State’s Forest Akers West

Top-ranked: 1. Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, 2. Jackson Lumen Christi, 3. Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central will play for its second championship in three seasons after winning in 2021 and finishing runner-up last spring to Ann Arbor Greenhills. The Gryphons are back in the mix after a third-place Regional team finish but individual Regional championship by junior Max Shulman, one of two golfers back from last year’s Finals lineup. Lumen Christi won that Regional, by 15 strokes at Hills of Lenawee in Adrian and with four golfers among the top 10 individual finishers. Fourth-ranked Hanover-Horton was runner-up at the Regional, one of the strongest in the state in any division. Liggett is seeking its first championship since 1982 but coming off a Regional runner-up finish to Lansing Catholic at Hawk Hollow in Bath.

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett: The Knights have three golfers back from last year’s top five as the team improved to third at the Final from tied for fourth in 2021. Senior Sean Sullivan and sophomore Charlie Cooksey finished tied for eighth and tied for sixth, respectively, in the individual standings last spring and tied for second at last week’s Regional.

Jackson Lumen Christi: The Titans are coming off a seventh-place Finals finish, and they’ll be returning their entire lineup this weekend. Senior Joshua Baker and sophomore Charlie Saunders led the Regional title run tying for fifth individually. Senior Nash Hanchett was seventh at the Regional and led the team tying for 16th at last year’s Final.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central: The Cougars also were Regional champions, shooting a 317 at The Falls at Barber Creek in Kent City to win by 19 strokes. Junior Will Preston was the medalist at 69, and junior Matthew Sokorai tied for second after they were also the team’s top two scorers at last year’s Final when Preston was second individually and Sokorai was 18th.

Individuals: Six golfers from last year’s top 10 are back; joining Preston, Shulman (tied for sixth), Cooksey and Sullivan are Grand Rapids Covenant Christian junior Michael DeVries (tied for 10th) and Hanover-Horton senior Brady Applegate (also tied for 10th). Joining Preston as Regional champs last week were Olivet senior Dawson Redfield, Shepherd sophomore Christopher Crockett, Lansing Catholic sophomore Hayden Riley, Adrian Madison freshman Cameron Bozyk and Tawas senior Alex Kaems, who won in a playoff.

Division 4 at Battle Creek’s Bedford Valley

Top-ranked: 1. Clarkston Everest Collegiate, 2. Maple City Glen Lake, 3. Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep.

There will be a new champion as 2022 title winner Lansing Christian is not in this weekend’s field, and Hackett won in both 2021 and 2019, while Everest was the runner-up last season. The Mountaineers last won a Finals championship in 2017 (and actually 2016 as well), while Glen Lake is pursuing its first title as are No. 4 Charlevoix and No. 5 Hillsdale Academy among other contenders.

Clarkston Everest Collegiate: The Mountaineers shot a 293 at Fountains in Clarkston to win their Regional last week by 34 strokes, with the four scorers all finishing tied for seventh or higher individually. Senior Remy Stalcup was the medalist with a 69, followed by sophomore Parker Stalcup in second and sophomore Will Pennanen third, and they were the team’s top three at last season’s Final as well. Remy Stalcup tied for third at last year’s championship tournament, while Parker Stalcup tied for 15th.

Maple City Glen Lake: After finishing fourth in 2021 and third last season, the Lakers should be in the hunt with three golfers back from year’s lineup including senior Blake O’Connor – who was the Finals runner-up last season and tied for ninth as a sophomore. He and sophomore Michael Houtteman tied for second at last week’s Regional at Harbor Point in Harbor Springs.

Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep: The Fighting Irish were fourth a year ago with four freshmen and a junior all playing at least one Finals round, and four of those five golfers helped the team return this weekend with a third-place Regional finish at Clearbrook in Saugatuck – but with the biggest contributor freshman Justin Tyler, who won the individual title.

Individuals: O’Connor and Remy Stalcup are a pretty formidable pair returning from the top three, and they and Houtteman are joined by three more top-10 finishers from a year ago: Saginaw Nouvel sophomore Alex McCarthy (tied for fifth), Hillsdale Academy junior Rykert Frisinger (tied for eighth) and Lansing Christian senior Baylor Brogan (tied for eighth). Frisinger and McCarthy joined Tyler and Stalcup among Regional champions last week, as did Grandville Calvin Christian freshman Will Orme and Charlevoix junior Hudson Vollmer.

PHOTO Ann Arbor Skyline’s Vibhav Alokam tees off during last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final at Katke Golf Course. (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