Bark River-Harris Ends MHSAA Title Wait

By John Vrancic
Special for

May 29, 2014

ESCANABA — After nearly 40 years of trying, Bark River-Harris finally has an Upper Peninsula girls golf championship to call its own. 

The Broncos captured their first Division 3 title on a sunny and mild Thursday with 415 strokes. They were followed by Crystal Fall Forest Park with 441 and Ontonagon at 464.

“I thought this was going to be very tight,” said BR-H coach Scott Farnsworth. “Forest Park has four seniors and a very strong program. I honestly thought it would be within a few strokes.” 

BR-H senior Savana Stenberg also was crowned individual champion for the first time, edging DeTour freshman Madison Wilkie on a tie-breaker.

Nerves were evident as both girls needed five strokes to complete the playoff hole, with each missing a three-foot putt before finding the bottom of the cup. 

During the playoff, Wilkie inadvertently picked up the ball while it was lying on the fringe. After the hole was done, Stenberg was declared the winner following a brief meeting of the coaches involved and course officials.

“Yes, I did touch it,” Wilkie acknowledged. “I just kind of forgot myself at the moment.” 

The girls set themselves up with strong tee shots that landed about halfway down and on the left side of the fairway, followed by solid approach shots.

“I think we should have played another hole,” Stenberg said. “On the course, I wasn’t nervous. But the playoff hole was nerve-wracking. I tried to think I was by myself. I usually tell myself I have to do well. But it seemed like I couldn’t play at all today. My putting was way off. 

“It’s just a relief to get this meet in and come out on top. This is also kind of sad because it’s my last high school meet, although I’ll be playing in a junior league this summer.”

Both girls recorded a 91 through the 18 regulation holes, setting the stage for the playoff. 

“I didn’t think I’d do very good because I four-putted the first hole,“ Wilkie said. “I just had to forget about it. We still had 17 more holes. I did well on the par-5s. My drives were pretty good, but my approach shots worked the best. This was definitely a learning experience.”

BR-H sophomore Hannah Starnes placed third with 94, followed by Mid Peninsula junior Hunter Branstrom at 95 and Cedarville sophomore Anna Eberts at 97.

“I was real nervous on the front nine, but played my game on the back nine,” Starnes said. “I calmed down once we got to the back nine. I didn’t overthink anything and established a rhythm.” 

The Broncos were runners-up and Stenberg placed third at the 2013 Final at Highland Golf Club in nearby Hyde.

“Winning this meet was our goal all year,” Farnsworth said. “With the talent we had, I thought we could get there. These girls are hard workers. They deserve this because they’ve put the time and effort into it.” 

Forest Park was led by Anne Taylor with 107 strokes, followed by Toni Santi at 109.

“All the girls played well,” Forest Park coach Harold Payne said. “We played for only three weeks this year because of the (unseasonably cold) weather. 

“This is a great group of girls. We’re senior-dominated, although our sophomore had the lowest score. Among our six golfers, we’re losing four good seniors. Each year you’re dealt a new hand, which makes it exciting. The challenge is keeping kids interested and hopefully pick up a few more.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Savanna Stenberg of Bark River-Harris chips out of a hazard and onto the No. 10 green Thursday during the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final at Escanaba Country Club. (Middle) Hunter Branstrom of Rock Mid Peninsula sends a shot from the No. 1 fairway. (Photos by Keith Shelton.)

Potent Pair Lead Cedarville/DeTour Girls to Repeat; Ontonagon Ace Paces Field

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 1, 2023

HYDE – Cedarville and DeTour have been golfing together for just two years as a co-op – and they already have two Upper Peninsula Girls Golf Finals titles.

The Islanders repeated in Division 3 with a score of 420 on Thursday at Highland Golf Club near Escanaba. That was eight strokes better than runner-up Big Bay de Noc and 16 fewer than third-place Ontonagon.

“It’s nice,” Islanders coach Jeff Autore said. “These girls worked hard. They knew they had a chance to be defending champions. We knew we had a pretty good chance coming in. This was our goal. The girls knew it, they were determined. This is why we practice in the rain and in the snow and in the cold.

Ontonagon’s Emmy Bobula tees off during her championship round.“We expected this and we worked hard for this, and they deserve it.”

For Hayley Kohlmann, who shot a 94, and Taylor Williams, who carded a 107, it was their third-straight team title. Cedarville also won as a standalone team in 2021. 

“They’ve had a pretty good run,” Autore said. “And then we co-opped with DeTour, and Lily Plowman has been our best player all year long. She finished in the top five last year.”

Plowman also shot a 94 on Thursday. She and Kohlmann were two of just three golfers in the field to shoot under 100.

The other was medalist Emmy Bobula of Ontonagon; she shot a 90. All three were over 100 at last year’s Final, held at the same course.

Bobula shot a 113 last year.

“So I really improved this season a lot,” she said. “It was crazy, that was my PR (personal record), so yeah, pretty bonkers.”

It was definitely a good time for such a good performance. She likes playing in tournaments and doesn’t get nervous for them. There’s no bigger tournament than this one for U.P. high school golfers.

Mackinac Island’s Isabella Nitzschke hits out of a tough spot beside a tree. “It’s crazy, it’s kind of surreal,” Bobula said. “I shed a few tears because it’s my senior season. It feels pretty good.”

Her coach Jim Jessup said Bobula wanted to have a big year – and she did.

“She’s a senior, she had drive, she wanted to do things this year and she did them,” Jessup said.

It all started for her Thursday off the tee.

“Probably my drives really saved me,” she said. “I had good drives today, which is probably the best thing and chipping, I did pretty well in chipping today actually.”

Ontonagon’s Madyson Pantti shot a 102 and Camryn Pederson of Big Bay de Noc a 105.

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PHOTOS (Top) Cedarville/DeTour’s Lily Plowman hits out of the sand during Thursday’s UPD3 Final. (Middle) Ontonagon’s Emmy Bobula tees off during her championship round. (Below) Mackinac Island’s Isabella Nitzschke hits out of a tough spot beside a tree. (Photos by Jason Juno.)