Bark River-Harris Takes Championship Steps with Team, Individual Sweep

By Jason Juno
Special for

May 29, 2024

CRYSTAL FALLS --- Bark River-Harris went home from last year’s Upper Peninsula Division 2 Girls Golf Final with some hardware. Just not the kind the Broncos wanted. 

After finishing third the year before, they earned the runner-up trophy at the 2023 championship tournament, and Ava McDonough also took home a runner-up finish.

This year at Young’s Golf Course, the Broncos won the team title and McDonough took the medalist honor.

“It’s pretty great. We’ve been working for it for three years now, and it feels really good to finally accomplish it,” she said. “Last year we got second. I got second individually. 

“I mean second’s good, but first is better.”

West Iron County's Kya Dallavalle putts on No. 17.It was really good for the Broncos’ entire team, which won their first U.P. title since claiming back-to-back Division 3 championships in 2014 and 2015. They finished a dozen strokes fewer than runner-up West Iron County (451). Norway was third, Stephenson fourth and Munising fifth.

“It’s amazing,” Broncos coach Matt Sly said. “I’ve been with these girls now, this is our third year. We took third three years ago, second last year. They worked really hard this year, and they were able to do it.”

McDonough carded a 101 to earn the medalist honor.

“My drives were pretty good, and my chipping I did good,” she said. “My putting was not very good. That was the only thing that really killed me. Otherwise, it was all pretty good.”

Sly said she's been playing well this entire season.

“She’s just an all-around good player,” he said. “She’s good off the tee, she has good short game and she was able to put it all together today.”

McDonough finished just one stroke ahead of teammate Ella Boney, who was runner-up with a 102.

“She played exceptionally well today,” Sly said of Boney. “She was several strokes better than her average.”

Munising’s Jailen Hancock and West Iron County’s Addison Franzene both carded 105 to tie for third. The Wykons’ Kya Dallavalle finished fifth with a 108.

McDonough said improvement over the last year has been about hard work, practice, helping each other out and not getting down when things went badly. 

“Four of the five are seniors,” Sly said of McDonough, Boney, Zailey Cortez – who placed 13th – and Melody Racicot. Sophomore Dakota Bridges took 16th. “They’ve been waiting for this for a while.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Bark River-Harris Ava McDonough tees off on No. 17 at Wednesday's Division 2 Final at Young's Golf Course. (Middle) West Iron County's Kya Dallavalle putts on No. 17. (Photos by Jason Juno.)

Pederson Wins Memorably, Ontonagon Ascends Again in 'Phenomenal' Fashion

By Jason Juno
Special for

May 30, 2024

ESCANABA – Big Bay de Noc’s Camryn Pederson carded an 89 on Thursday to win the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final individual champion and become the first U.P. champion to clear 90 since 2019.

“It feels really good,” she said. “I tried my best to golf as good as I could today, and I’m really glad that it came out the way it was. It’s a good way to end my senior year.”

She said she liked the open course that was low on hazards at the Escanaba Country Club. And she did most things well during her round Thursday.

“I think I minimized my putts. I only one or two-putt most of the holes,” Pederson said. “And my drives were really good.”

She became the second golfer from Big Bay de Noc to win a U.P. Finals individual golf title. Samantha Guertin won Division 3 in 2006 with a 90.

Pederson’s team was seeking its first title since 2005 after finishing runner-up last year, but finished second to a school where girls golf has pretty much always been strong – Ontonagon.

Ontonagon celebrates its latest girls golf Finals championship.When the MHSAA first separated the U.P. Finals into separate classes, Ontonagon won the first 10 Class C-D championships, from 1978 to 1987. When Class D got its own U.P. championship tournament, the Gladiators girls won the first four, part of a five-year run of titles from 1994 to 1998. When classifications changed again in 2001, and the name of the smallest group of schools changed from Class D to Division 3, Ontonagon didn’t stop winning, racking up seven more Finals championships.

On Thursday, the Gladiators made it eight wins in Division 3 and 23 overall.

Two of their golfers finished under 100 – runner-up Madyson Pantti carded a 94, and Sam Bailey had a 98. All five finished among the top 10 individuals. Summer Stites’ 100 was good for a fourth-place tie, and Olivia Lockhart and Shayna Stites tied for 10th with 108s.

It was the first U.P. Finals golf championship for all of them, including coach Jim Jessup. The Gladiators’ last team wins came with back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019.

Ontonagon repeated as Copper Mountain Conference champion this year. The Gladiators had finished third last season at the U.P. Division 3 Final and outshot Big Bay de Noc on Thursday by eight strokes, 400-408. Ontonagon shot 36 strokes better than at last season’s Final, and every golfer shot under 110, which Jessup called “phenomenal.”

“I think the girls just worked really hard to better themselves,” he said. “Their stroke play was better, their consistency was better.”

Pantti improved her score by eight strokes from last year’s Final. The junior will have another shot at an individual championships in 2025, but she had a lot to be proud of this time with her runner-up finish that led the Gladiators to a team title.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It was something that we’d been looking forward to all season. We’ve done good in a lot of our meets, and I thought this was a really good year for us.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Big Bay de Noc's Camryn Pederson follows her drive on No. 4 on Thursday at Escanaba Country Club. (Middle) Ontonagon celebrates its latest girls golf Finals championship. (Photos by Jason Juno.)