Dow Dynasty Continues at Division 2 Final

October 20, 2012

By Greg Tunnicliff
Special to Second Half

GRAND BLANC – Mark Gorte did more this fall than just help Midland Dow capture a fourth straight MHSAA Lower Peninsula tennis championship.

He made some lifelong friendships that despite winning an MHSAA title made it tough to see this fall come to an end.

The Chargers capped a remarkable season Saturday, taking top honors with 35 points at the Division 2 Final at Genesys Athletic Club in Grand Blanc. Gorte and his partner, junior Patrick Eschbach, won the individual title at No. 3 doubles.

The top-seeded duo beat second-seeded Amey Vrudula and Nico Finelli of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, 6-3, 6-1, in the championship match.

It was Gorte and Eschbach’s first individual MHSAA championship.

“It makes me proud to be on this team and contribute to winning the state championship for the fourth straight year,” Gorte said. “It also makes it harder to leave. These are some of the best guys I’ve ever known.”

Dow’s depth was the difference during the two-day event, which began at Holly and Fenton high schools but was moved indoors because of inclement weather. The Chargers placed six flights in individual finals, winning five.

Forest Hills Central came in second place with 23 points.

“When they were freshmen, (Austin Woody, Mike Templeman and David Read) made a joke and said they were going for a minimum of an eight-peat,” Dow coach Terry Schwartzkopf said. “They were good for their word their four years.”

Kalamazoo Loy Norrix junior Davis Crocker earned his second straight championship at No. 1 singles, avenging a loss in the Regional final in the process.

Crocker lost to Portage Central’s Billy Heckman, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, in the Regional championship match before coming back Saturday and beating him, 6-1, 6-1 to win the flight.

Crocker ended the season with a 30-1 overall record.

“I had a target on my back all season so I couldn’t let up,” Crocker said. “People were gunning for me so I had to go out on a mission in the state tournament.”

Pacing Dow was senior Austin Woody, who beat second-seeded Rob Stevens of Portage Central, 6-2, 6-3, in the No. 2 singles championship match.


Woody captured his 80th straight victory in the final. The streak is an MHSAA record, eclipsing the previous standard of 60 set by former Grosse Pointe University Liggett standout and ATP professional Aaron Krickstein from 1981-82.

Woody finished with a 41-0 record this season, tying the MHSAA record set by Traverse City Central’s Hunter Bergsma and Caleb Morgan in 2010 and equaled by Dow’s Jonathan Gurnee last year.

 It was Woody’s second MHSAA individual championship, having won at No. 3 singles as a junior.

“It makes it a little bigger,” Woody said of his streak. “It’s cool to say you broke a record set by a professional tennis player.”

Dow junior Juli Guerra captured his third straight title Saturday, beating Portage Central’s Trevor VanderKlok, 6-2, 6-2, in the No. 3 singles championship match. Guerra won at No. 4 singles the previous two seasons.

“It’s a great experience,” Guerra said. “I have a lot of pressure on me because I won it the previous years. I have to keep working hard.”

Rounding out Dow’s singles winners was freshman Michael Szabo at No. 4. The first-year varsity player beat Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern’s Justin Minzlaff, 6-1, 6-1, in the championship match.

“I’m just proud to be here,” Szabo said. “This is just amazing to do this and win.”

Leading Dow at doubles was its No. 1 team of juniors Vikram Shanker and Jason Chang, who downed sixth-seeded Mat Denison and Stan Lassen of Battle Creek Lakeview, 6-0, 6-3, in the championship match.

It was Chang’s third individual MHSAA title, having won at No. 3 doubles in 2010 and at No. 2 doubles last year. It is Shanker’s first crown. The twosome ended 37-0 as a team.

“It’s still so awesome, and to share my whole season with him is great,” Chang said. “It’s awesome to know you won your whole state tournament.”

One of the big surprises came at No. 4 doubles where the unseeded team of sophomore Joey McClure and senior Matt Gebhardt of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central won the championship.

The twosome upset top-seeded Andrew Camp and David Read of Midland Dow, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6), in the semifinals before downing sixth-seeded Alex Cross and Will Geller of Birmingham Seaholm, 6-1, 6-0, in the championship match.

It was McClure’s second title, having won at No. 3 doubles last year. It was Gebhardt’s first.

“The big deal was beating Dow,” said McClure who, along with Gebhardt, lost to Dow, 6-3, 6-0, earlier this season. “We had an insane match (Saturday) against them. We stayed intense and we did it for our school.”

At No. 2 doubles, second-seeded Zach Tayler and Griffin Neel of Birmingham Seaholm upset top-seeded David Goslin and Colin Angell of Midland Dow, 6-4, 6-4, in the championship match. It was the first championship for the Seaholm team.

“A lot of intensity,” Tayler said. “A lot of games went to deuce, a lot of holding serve. We just won a couple more points.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Midland Dow claimed its fourth straight MHSAA team title Saturday. (Middle) Kalamazoo Loy Norrix senior Davis Crocker repeated as individual champion at No. 1 singles. (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