Cass Tech Makes History, Hopes to Inspire Future City Teams with Finals Trip

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

October 26, 2023

EAST LANSING – Players and coaches on the Detroit Cass Tech girls golf team did all they could to soak it in, but this had nothing to do with all the rain that plagued Forest Akers West during the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Girls Golf Final over the weekend.

Greater DetroitInstead, everyone associated with the Technicians was doing all they could to soak in the experience and finish off a journey that not only illustrated how far the team had come, but also how far they want to go in the future. 

It’s believed that Cass Tech sent the first high school girls golf team from the city of Detroit to qualify for an MHSAA Finals in the sport.

“It was very meaningful to make it as a team,” said Cass Tech senior Kennedy Watts. “It showed we can succeed, we are making progress and growing.”

The achievement was remarkable for a program that started just three years ago and still faces some obstacles.

The team doesn’t have a home course and has had to rely on alumni donations to purchase necessary equipment. 

“It’s pretty hard for the girls to practice a bunker shot if they’ve never practiced a bunker shot before because we have no home course,” Cass Tech head coach Martin Siml said. “It’s like playing basketball without a basketball court. It’s like playing in somebody’s backyard and then showing up to compete on the basketball court.”

The Technicians' Nyla Joseph putts during the Final.Cass Tech conducts practice sessions at the Royal Oak Golf Center, but was able to compete in various dual matches and tournaments throughout the year, including invitationals in Brighton, Rochester and Traverse City. 

“Just not having the basic resources, but still being able to come and perform and be able to be here at states, is one of the best things,” said junior Sydney Evans. 

The most memorable tournament obviously was the Regional at West Shore Golf & Country Club in Grosse Ile. The Technicians made history that day, punching their ticket to the Finals by finishing second with a score of 398. The top three teams at Regional events qualify. 

From there, it was a whirlwind of preparation leading up to last weekend’s trip to East Lansing.

When word of the team’s accomplishment got out, the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press were among media to feature the team.

Retired Detroit Lions wide receiver and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Calvin Johnson even showed up at a practice to offer congratulations and support. 

At the Final, Cass Tech finished 17th behind Watts, Evans, sophomore Sienna Hawkins, senior Kalista Bennett and junior Nyla Joseph. 

More important than competing at the Final was the bar the team set going forward by simply being there. 

Not only does the program hope future teams qualifying becomes the norm, but that other programs in the city and Detroit Public School League will be inspired. 

“I think the girls coming after us, they are going to have that legacy to go behind,” Evans said. “It’s something to strive for as well.”

Siml for one doesn’t shy away from having lofty ambitions for the future. 

“I told them I want to start a dynasty,” Siml said. “That’s my goal. At Cass Tech, we have dynasties. We have basketball, we have football. We try to make dynasties.” 

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTO The Detroit Cass Tech girls golf team celebrates qualifying for the MHSAA Final from its LPD1 Regional. (Middle) The Technicians' Nyla Joseph putts during the Final. (Top photo courtesy of Faye Watts. Middle photo by High School Sports Scene.)

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