All Pitch in to FHN's 1st Title since 1982

October 21, 2017

By Wes Morgan
Special for Second Half

BATTLE CREEK – Bedford Valley Golf Course doesn’t leave a lot of room for mistakes.

Fortunately for the girls golf team from Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, it hasn’t made all that many this season.

The Huskies secured their first MHSAA championship since 1982 with a two-day total of 656, turning in a round of 329 on Saturday after entering the second round of the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final with a seven-stroke lead. Bloomfield Hills Marian shot up from fifth to runner-up with 668 strokes.

Led by freshman Lilia Henkel’s 79-77-156 (eighth individually), FHN was able to finish strong with big contributions from the entire lineup. Junior Kay Zubkus carded 160 (78-82) for a tie for 10th place individually. Maddie Goodrich, a senior captain, fired an 81 on Saturday for a total of 168, and senior captain Chloe Johnson recorded rounds of 83 and 89 for a 172. Anna Fay shot 93 on Friday and Gabby Mas finished with a 95 on Saturday.

“We had a seven-shot lead going into today and felt very good,” Forest Hills Northern coach Kent Graves said. “That was a good cushion to have. It allowed us to play maybe a little more conservative than we would have if we were behind. Our girls responded. We shot two shots higher than we did yesterday, but it was enough to win and we feel really good about it.

“You don’t win state tournaments at the (Nos.) 1 and 2 spots; you win them at the 3, 4 and even 5 spots. You have to have solid scores there. Our 3, 4 and 5 were exceptionally good this year.”

A key for the Huskies, who finished sixth in Division 2 in 2016, was managing Bedford Valley’s slew of elevated greens, which were even more difficult at times as the leaves fell relentlessly.

Goodrich and Johnson, who played their final prep rounds, did just that. Goodrich pointed to the 391-yard par-5 fifth hole, where she birdied, as the catalyst to her round. She also birdied the par-4 15th hole as part of a strong finish.

“It was like no time passed while I was playing,” Goodrich said of the surreal feeling of going out as a Finals champion. “It just flew by. (Friday) I had a few rough holes and some first-day nerves. Coming into today, I knew I could shoot the score I wanted to if I just went one shot at a time.”

Added Johnson: “It feels amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy. I’ve always dreamed of being a state champion, and I never thought I was going to be able to do it. But here we are.”

Individually, it was Marian freshman Shannon Kennedy who devoured the 5,422-yard layout with a 2-under par 70 in the final round for a medalist total of 146. In her championship debut, Kennedy penciled in five birdies — three in her final eight holes — to finish ahead of Midland Dow senior Alexis Carras (74-75-149). Kennedy posted a round of 76 on Friday.

With 10 years of hockey experience, Kennedy’s trademark early on in her career is her length off the tee. Saturday she was able to convert distance to scoring with her effort on the greens.

Pressure doesn’t seem to bother her,” Marian co-coach Cathie Fritz said of Kennedy. “The hardest thing was it was a slow round, so there was a lot of standing around before they’d tee off. We had her walk to a tree or walk somewhere else so she wasn’t just standing there staring at it. She just has a great attitude, and she’s truly one of the most coachable kids I’ve ever been around. She made the clutch putts that she needed to make, whether they were for birdie or for par.”

Marian shot 16 strokes better Saturday. Senior Alexandra Robb posted an 81 for a three-stroke improvement from Round 1, freshman Lauren Sass’ 85 was seven shots better than Friday’s round, sophomore Marlo Hudson was steady with 90-90 and junior Kate Zink trimmed nine shots from her first-round score to finish with a 90 on Saturday.

For being as young as Shannon and Lauren are, it’s really fun to see them so calm under pressure,” Fritz said.

Kennedy birdied two of her first seven holes with three pars in the mix. Two of those birdies were on par-5s, and she also managed to birdie the tricky par-3 12th hole.

“It was a crazy day,” she said. “It was long, it was hot and it was tiring. I knew I had to pull it together and fire a good number on the back nine, and I did.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Forest Hills Northern’s Chloe Johnson rolls a putt during Saturday’s second round. (Middle) Marian’s Shannon Kennedy watches one of her drives on the way to claiming the medalist honor. (Photos by Wes Morgan.)

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