Negaunee Adds to Decade of Dominance

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 1, 2017

NEGAUNEE — Welcome to late spring in the Upper Peninsula.

With a stiff northwest breeze whipping across the Negaunee Tennis Facility coupled with off and on drizzle and temperatures in the mid to upper 40s, conditions were far less than perfect for Wednesday’s Upper Peninsula Division 1 Boys Tennis Finals.

The Negaunee Miners didn’t seem to mind, however, as they retained their title with 21 points.

“I think the wind helped me a little,” said Negaunee junior Thomas Sertich, who outlasted Kingsford’s Nick McCole 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 for the No. 3 singles crown. “I feel comfortable playing in any conditions. I talked to our coach (Kyle Saari) after the second set, and it helped me a lot. He told me to regroup and hit the reset button.

“My experience helped. I knew what I had to do. I felt I had to do what I was doing in the first set. It feels wonderful to win again as a team. This is what we work for all year.”

Runner-up Kingsford scored 12 points, followed by Marquette with 10.

The Miners sent seven to the championship round and won six flights. The title was the program's fifth this decade.

“I think the best part is all eight flights contributed to our point total,” said Saari. “The kids bought into the idea they wanted to play their best tennis on the last day of the year, and they did that. Getting to the finals is always part of the goal. To win six flights is a rewarding feeling. Each group wants its own accomplishment.”

Teammate Luke Skewis topped Menominee’s Jake Anglehart 6-3, 6-2 for the No. 2 singles championship and freshman Chas Kumpula added a title at No. 4. Kumpula finished 20-1 this season.

Negaunee’s Jacob Talaga and Darius Provost finished 21-0 in No. 3 doubles with a 7-5, 6-3 triumph over Esky juniors Alex Valentine-Soren Thompson.

“It was fun,” said Valentine. “I got a lot of experience for next year. It was pretty hard to hit into the wind, and the court was a little slippery.

“I’ve learned that you have to push yourself to the net and put shots away at the net. It’s good to get used to playing in these conditions.”

In No. 2 doubles, Negaunee’s Jackson Sager and Drew Lindberg dispatched Marquette’s Adam Skendzel and Mitch Connon, and Evan Hassel and Jake Larson rallied past Kingsford’s Reece Fortner and Ethan Fox 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 at No. 4.

Kingsford sophomores Daunte Fortner and Tyler Beauchamp beat Escanaba seniors Paul Carne and Nick Dufour 6-1, 6-2 in No. 1 doubles.
Beauchamp, making effective use of overhand shots, helped the Kingsford duo build a quick 3-0 lead in the first set.

“That helped us relax,” he said. “It looked like they were trying to slow us down. We just tried to relax and hit our shots.”

The eventual champions also appeared to have an answer whenever the Eskymos duo tried to charge the net.

“We would lob the ball over their head,” said Fortner. “We tried to hit the angles and make them run a little. Returning the ball to the opposite side enabled us to get back into a pace we were more comfortable with.”

Marquette sophomore Alec Olivier completed his second straight perfect season with a 6-2, 6-0 triumph over Negaunee senior Eric Hurst at No. 1 singles.

“Everything went pretty good,” said Olivier. “I started out pretty good. Eric kept battling. He played well. I had to earn my points. The wind made it a little tricky. But if you prepared for it, it was no big deal.

“I put a lot of time in during the offseason, which really helps. That way, once you get into the season, you’re ready to go. I just have to keep hitting balls and fine-tune everything.”

Hurst reached the finals by eliminating Menominee’s Jon Antilla 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

“I played a long, tough match with Jon,” he said. “I’m happy with how everything turned out. Alec is very consistent and accurate with his shots. He’s a smart player who knows when to hit his shots.

“I’m real happy we won as a team. We played really well today.”

Marquette coach Charlie Drury also was happy with how the Redmen performed. 

“This was our best showing all year,” he said. “We had a great group to work with. This has been a tough year. The weather has made it tough all year. It was hard to get any continuity, especially in doubles.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Menominee’s Jon Antilla stretches for a shot at No. 1 singles Wednesday. (Middle) Negaunee’s Eric Hurst finished runner-up at No. 1 singles to undefeated Alec Olivier of Marquette. (Photos by Rachel Oakley.)

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