Westwood Runs Reign to 3 Straight

June 2, 2016

By Adam Niemi
Special for Second Half

KINGSFORD — Ishpeming Westwood coach Chris Jackson knew his team had to appear in the finals during the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 boys tennis tournament Thursday.

They did, and won all six of their title match appearances to win the overall championship with 20 points. Iron River West Iron County was runner-up with 15.

“I think a lot of it was about redemption,” said Westwood coach Chris Jackson. “We have six seniors. A number of them had disappointments last year, and we still were able to win. A lot of those kids came back and fought through some tough moments today and got an extra point or two.”

Westwood’s No. 2 singles Jacob Kerkela defeated West Iron’s Erick Upperstrom, 6-1, 6-3, as he team claimed the second, third and fourth singles and second, third and fourth doubles flights.

Westwood shared the championship in 2015 in Iron Mountain, but now has won MHSAA titles to finish three straight seasons and four of the last five.

West Iron County coach Joe Serbentas said he was happy with the way his team performed in finishing second to the more experienced Patriots.

The Wykons advanced to championship matches in six flights as it sought its first team title since 2013.

“We knew coming in that it was going to be a tight match with Westwood,” Serbentas said. “I was just happy that our team had an opportunity at the very end to try and take a championship as a team. We know they have a nice team. I was proud of the way our boys fought.”

West Iron County had trouble converting on its opportunities to win championship matches. The day’s longest was No. 3 singles between James Swanson and Adam Hyttinen, which lasted more than an hour. The two traded tiebreakers in the first two sets before Hyttinen won the last set, 6-2, and finished Westwood’s championship.

Serbentas was optimistic and said with a young team including just three seniors, the sky is the limit next year.

“I thought the whole team improved as the season went along,” Serbentas said. “That’s all you can ask as a coach is to give your team an opportunity to win at the end, and we did. We’re going to be back next year, and we’re going to have to learn how to finish some of these flights and win some championships next year. That was the critical point of the day: we could not win at the end.”

Third-place Iron Mountain played a bit of a spoiler role against West Iron County. No. 1 singles Tysen Wadge beat Neil Tomasoski, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. Jordan Wadge and Luke Truscott beat Zane Sarafiny and Brandon Henschel in No. 1 doubles, 6-4, 6-2.

Mountaineers coach Greg Stegall said his team did OK, but its depth didn’t match up.

“We’re still producing the best players at the top flights — one singles and doubles,” Stegall said. “Overall, team depth, we just don’t have the numbers. These schools, they have entire JV squads, which means they have over 30 kids to develop. We’ve got 16 at the most.”

Ishpeming placed fourth with four points, followed by Munising (three) and Gwinn (one).

Click for championship match results.

PHOTOS: (Top) An Ishpeming Westwood doubles player returns a shot during Thursday's Division 2 Final. (Middle) Iron Mountain's Tysen Wadge prepares to send back a shot on the way to winning the No. 1 singles title. (Photos by Adam Niemi.)

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