Cox, Dy Aim To Bring Golf Fame Up North

October 14, 2016

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

TRAVERSE CITY – Maple City Glen Lake senior Nichole Cox will try to become just the third golfer to win three consecutive MHSAA Lower Peninsula individual golf championships when she tees off today in the Division 4 final at Michigan State’s Forest Akers West.

With a three-peat, Cox would equal the accomplishments of Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Katy Loy (1993-95) and Okemos’ Elle Nichols (2011-13).

But that’s not foremost on her mind this morning.

“I’m not focusing on that,” Cox said. “I’m focusing on striking the ball well, not making tactical errors, just going out and having fun in my last high school tournament.”

The 18-year-old is the only girl from northern Michigan to win a Lower Peninsula title since the MHSAA started offering a postseason tournament in 1973.

Her friend, Traverse City West sophomore Anika Dy, is hoping to become the second this weekend. Dy, the Division 1 runner-up last October, is leading the reigning champion Titans into play today at Forest Akers East.

“They are two of the best, if not the best, (girls) golfers to come out of this area – ever,” Glen Lake coach Paul Christiansen said. “And Anika is just a sophomore, which is amazing.”

Cox and Dy have played in numerous high school and junior tournaments together. They text frequently.

“They’re happy for each other’s success,” Christiansen said.

And when asked, they’re genuinely excited to talk about the other.

“She can hit the ball so far,” Dy said of Cox. “She eats the short courses alive. She’ll drive the green. She’s so long and powerful.”

“She’s very focused,” Cox said of Dy. “She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. She might not hit it as far as me sometimes, but she makes up for it with a really good short game.”

That’s been evident this fall as Dy has lowered her 18-hole average nearly seven strokes, dropping from 77.1 to 70.5. 

“I’m hitting the ball a little better, but it’s mostly been my putting,” she said. “Each course is different and you have to adapt to the greens. I think I’ve adapted better this year.”

West coach Kristen Nolan said Dy’s scores reflect a more consistent player.

“She’s been consistently in the low 70s, if not 60s,” she said. “She’s more focused on each shot, more focused on course management.”

Dy, who shattered the women’s course record at the Grayling Country Club with a 65 in August, agreed she’s keeping the ball in the fairway better, and it’s enabled her to “score well’ even when she’s not at the top of her game.

The 15-year-old won last Thursday’s Regional on The Meadows at Grand Valley State University with a 3-under 70. That was the same course where she fired a 79-77 in last year’s MHSAA Final.

“I had a pretty good day, but honestly it was not my best because I had a stretch where I struggled and bogeyed a couple holes,” she said. “I wasn’t hitting it as well. But my attitude and positive thinking kept me going. I kept it in the present and didn’t think about what happened because I knew I couldn’t change it.”

Dy’s round included an eagle.

“She missed another eagle when a 20-foot putt just lipped out,” Nolan said. “Overall, she played solid golf.”

So did her teammates. West shot a 309 and placed four golfers in the top six. Hunter Kehoe was second with a 76, Megan Jenkinson tied for fourth with an 81 and Grace Ellul tied for sixth with an 82.

“They were excited,” Nolan added. “When we looked back at our scores (at The Meadows) last year we knew we could do better. We wanted redemption.”

West shot team totals of 348 and 337 there a year ago. Kehoe had rounds of 87 and 80 in the Final.

“Hunter’s improved so much,” Nolan said. “Last year she had a few rounds in the 70s, but she was consistently in the low 80s. Now, she’s got into a streak of shooting in the 70s, and I’m excited for her.”

Dy said the Titans, who have won 12 tournaments in a row, celebrated after the Regional, but not like last year.

“I think we expected it,” she said. “We were super happy, but our focus now is on states. We know there will be a lot of good teams in the Finals. We just want to do our best.”

West is ranked No. 2 in Division 1 behind Rochester, which won its Regional with a 289. Rochester was led by Brooke Busse’s 69.

Cox, meanwhile, had to contend with windy conditions last Friday at Manistee Country Club to win her Division 4 Regional. She shot a 79 – her highest score of the season.

“I didn’t play as well as I would have liked,” she said, “but the conditions were by far the worst of any Regional.”

“We had sustained winds of 20 to 30 miles-per-hour,” Christiansen said. “Club selection was really difficult.”

It was the fourth consecutive Regional crown for Cox.

“Not too many kids are able to win a Regional event four years in a row – in any sport,” Christiansen said. “That, in itself, is a representation of how consistent she’s been over the years.”

Cox is averaging just over 74 a round, nearly the same average she sported a year ago. But her scores have been more consistent. A year ago, they ranged between 69 and 83. This season she’s been in the 70s every tournament.

She’s done that despite being sick a couple weeks.

In addition, Cox, who has committed to Bowling Green, reached the semifinal round in the 100th Michigan Women’s Amateur in August, losing to eventual champion Allyson Geer by a stroke on the final hole.

“When you count her summer and fall, she’s had an outstanding year,” Christiansen said.

Cox qualified for the MHSAA Finals as an individual, like last year, which means she will not play in the same group with any individual contenders whose teams qualified.

“It might hinder you a little, but at the same time I’m going to play my game,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who I’m playing with because I’m playing against the course.”

Cox shot rounds of 76-74 to win the Division 4 title by six shots last October.

Christiansen expects Cox to go into the Finals excited and confident. His only concern?

“I hope she doesn’t put too much pressure on herself to do well,” he said.

For one thing, Christiansen added, you can’t control what your competitors are doing.

“It’s not like basketball where you can play better defense and keep (opponents) from scoring,” he said. “You just have to go out, do your thing, do the best you can and what happens, happens.”

What Christiansen hopes happens is this: “That she ends (her high school career) with a third championship.”

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Maple City Glen Lake's Nichole Cox (left) hits an approach toward the green, and Traverse City West's Anika Dy watches one of her shots during their respective MHSAA Finals in 2015. (Middle) Cox (left) poses for photos with runner-up Meg Watkins of Frankenmuth after receiving last season's Division 4 championship medal. (Below) Dy (top row, far right) stands with her teammates and their Division 1 team championship trophy. (Click to see more from

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