Successful Shamrocks Shine Once More

June 10, 2017

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – For the past three seasons, the biggest drama with Detroit Catholic Central’s boys golf team hasn’t been whether or not it would win tournaments it competed in.

Instead, it was a matter of how much the Shamrocks would win by and which player in its loaded lineup would be the medalist.

It’s been a constant battle of bragging rights for a Catholic Central team which entered this weekend’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers West having won all of its tournaments the past two years and with each starter finishing as medalist at least once during the run.

“That’s what we strive for,” senior Sean Niles said.

On Saturday, Niles ended up getting the final bragging rights at the finale for a senior class that couldn’t have been much more decorated.

Niles won the individual Division 1 title, shooting a two-day score of 139 to prevail by one shot over Plymouth senior Justin Kapke (70-70).

Grosse Pointe South sophomore Coalter Smith was third with a 144 (71-73).

Catholic Central had two more golfers finish among the top five individually – seniors James Piot and Ben Smith.

Piot was fourth at 146 (72-74), and Smith was fifth at 148 (71-77).

Needless to say, all that firepower helped Catholic Central do what was expected all season, which was win a third straight team championship.

The Shamrocks finished with a total of 581 strokes, ahead of runner-up Grosse Pointe South’s 597.

Plymouth took third with a 610, Clarkston was fourth with a 619 while Rockford rounded out the top five with a 622.

It was the definition of a bittersweet moment for Catholic Central coach Mike Anderson, who while celebrating another Finals title with his players also had to come to grips that it was the last time he got to coach a senior class that graduated with three MHSAA championships and a runner-up finish.

Catholic Central will send three of those golfers to Division I college programs with Piot going to Michigan State, Smith to Georgia Tech and Niles to Oakland University.

Senior Sean Sooch will play at Grand Valley State.  

“They are my friends and my family, and we will be in touch with them for the rest of their lives,” Anderson said. “It’s a special group.”

Anderson said it was actually the finish three years ago when these seniors were freshmen that proved to be the driving force behind their success.

In 2014, Catholic Central finished one shot behind champion Swartz Creek, a painful memory the Shamrocks didn’t forget.

“That was a tough pill to swallow, and they responded,” Anderson said. “They looked toward that as something they didn’t want to happen again, and it didn’t.”

Niles led the charge for the Shamrocks this weekend, following up a 2-under par 70 on Friday with a 3-under par 69 at a difficult Forest Akers West course.

“It is a strategy course,” Niles said. “You are basically doing all you can to keep it in the fairway. It’s a placement course. That is all it is.”

Kapke had a chance to tie Niles on the final hole and force a playoff, but couldn’t connect on what was roughly a 20-foot putt.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Catholic Central, including medalist Sean Niles holding the trophy, stands together a final time after winning a Division 1 title. (Middle) Birmingham Brother Rice’s Brendan O’Rourke punches out of a bunker. (Click to see more from

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