West Iron Caps Undefeated Spring Surge

May 31, 2018

By Ryan Stieg
Special for Second Half

ISHPEMING – It had been a while since the Iron River West Iron County boys tennis team stood at the top of the Upper Peninsula.

But Wednesday afternoon, the Wykons finished the climb again.

After ending runner-up to Ishpeming Westwood the past two seasons, West Iron edged the Patriots 20-18 to take the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 title, its first since 2013.

“We looked good today,” WIC head coach Joe Serbentas said. “Sometimes when you have multiple teams, some teams can play a role in what is going on and it just happened that it was us and Westwood in the finals. They were in all eight and we were in seven of the eight. These guys have a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of seniors on the team and they’ve been looking forward to today. We’re coming off a Great Northern Conference championship, so there’s a lot of confidence in the guys.”

Even though his team had won the last four Division 2 titles, Patriots head coach Chris Jackson knew going into the meet that it was going to be hard to win a fifth straight against a WIC squad that hadn’t lost all season.

“The day kind of went as it was set up,” he said. “I think West Iron had six of the eight number one seeds. I think we had seven of the eight two seeds. We got everyone to the finals, which was important. The kids performed really well today. It was just a little short.”

The Wykons won three of the four doubles championship matches to help lift them over the Patriots. It wasn’t easy though as Brandon Henschel and Kevin Ballinger dropped the first set to Westwood’s Dylan Willey and Jared LeRoy at No. 1 doubles, but came back to take the next two. On the other end of the court at No. 3 doubles, Steven Nelson and Caden Pellizzer took the first set from the Patriots’ Connor Traver and Hudson Uren but had to fight off the Westwood tandem in the third to win the match.

Jackson was impressed with how Willey and LeRoy performed, battling Henschel and Ballinger to a hard-fought third set.

“They were a three seed so they had to play the extra match,” he said. “Munising beat them earlier in the year, and they came out and played really well. Now they played against one of the best No. 1 doubles teams in the U.P. and they took them to the third set. It’s fitting that they’re a group of seniors too.”

Westwood’s lone doubles win came at No. 4 where Nathan Ostlund and Jack Mattias topped WIC’s Nolan Anderson and Drew Hebert.

Over on the singles side, the Wykons’ Holden Ross and Neil Tomasoski easily took their matches at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, and Serbentas praised Ross for the strong effort he put in against Westwood’s Adam Hyttinen.

“Holden was hitting well early in the season, but then he got into a little funk where he was guiding a little too much and being a little too patient and not attacking some of the balls that he could’ve attacked like he did earlier in the year,” Serbentas said. “Today, he just let it go. He wasn’t holding any punches. He gave him everything he had. Adam is a good player, so you’re going to have to move him around and hit it hard by him. Holden did a lot of good things today to get himself in good positions against a quality player.”

Westwood’s Matt Paavo won the No. 4 final, and Munising earned its only title of the day at No. 3 singles when Mitchell Coyne earned a two-set victory.

“Mitch is having a good year,” Mustangs head coach Rod Gendron said. “He’s coming off the GNC Championship in straight sets, and coming here on (the Patriots') home courts he played a nice first set. He’s got good control, he thinks about things while he plays now and uses some good tactics to mix it up.”

The Mustangs finished third overall followed by Ishpeming, Iron Mountain and Gwinn. Gendron said that that his team needed to have a lot go its way to win the meet and even though it didn’t happen, he was happy with the result.

“We finished third, where we should have this year,” he said. “Coming in, we had to have some major upsets and we came close in a few matches. I was happy though. They played their best today, and that’s what we always hope to do. Just play to the last point, and don’t give up. That’s all you need to do.”

That’s what the Wykons did as well and with that strong effort, they're now bringing a championship home to Iron River.

“This could be probably one of our finest seasons,” Serbentas said. “We’re undefeated, we were GNC champs and a U.P. championship. I don’t know how you could have a better season than that.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Munising’s Mason Schnieding keeps his eye on the ball during a No. 1 singles match against Westwood’s Adam Hyttinen at the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 Finals on Wednesday at Westwood High School. (Middle) Hyttinen returns the ball against Schnieding (Photos by Rachel Oakley.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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