DeTour Girls Deliver 1st Title since 1999

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 1, 2017

GLADSTONE — Most, if not all DeTour High School girls weren’t around the last time a team from their school was crowned Upper Peninsula golf champion.

It was 1999, and the Raiders were competing in Class D at the time. Ontonagon was runner-up that year.

On Thursday, the Raiders ended their title drought by taking the Division 3 crown for the first time with 403 strokes. They were followed by reigning champion Cedarville with 406 and Ontonagon at 433.

“I had a feeling it would be between us and Cedarville,” said DeTour coach Ken Wilkie. “I think our depth was a factor, plus we have four seniors. It’s very important to have that senior leadership and experience. The girls knew what to expect. Hopefully, this will draw some interest from our younger girls.”

Cedarville freshman Lily Freel earned the medalist honor with an 82 at Irish Oaks Golf Course. She was followed by DeTour seniors Madison Wilkie and Kaalin Crawford at 85 and 86, respectively.

“In the beginning, it was definitely a struggle,” said Freel, who shot 98 in last year’s Finals at Escanaba Country Club. “It took me a couple holes to settle down. I wasn’t too nervous, but I could still feel the pressure. I could tell I was a little tense, then I was able to convince myself to relax. I had some bad shots, but was able to recover from them. Last year was good for me because I learned from playing with the other girls. I put a lot of time into my game last summer and had a better idea what to expect.”

Freel, who works at the Les Cheneaux Club in Cedarville, is no stranger to golf.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “I’m around it all the time. I live within a block of the club. I ride my golf cart there all the time.”

Wilkie, consistently in the title hunt throughout her high school career, came in as reigning champion. She tied for first as a freshman in 2014, then was runner-up as a sophomore.

“Everything started good,” said Wilkie, who will continue her golf career at Lake Superior State University. “My play on the front nine was as solid as I’ve had, then things kind of fell apart on the back nine. I couldn’t read the greens for some reason. If you missed the hole, the ball rolled a little further. I had a hard time adjusting. I had three bad holes in a role at one time. My putting was better on the front nine. The first hole is always hard. Everybody tends to be a little nervous. Lily played awesome. I’m proud of her.”

Crawford’s putting, however, improved on the back nine.

“I became a little more comfortable on the course,” said Crawford, who will play basketball at Alpena Community College in 2017-18. “This is the best I’ve done in competition. Everything just came together. It was a real nice day for golf. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. There also wasn’t much wind.”

Cedarville coach Rob Freel said he was pleased with the Trojans’ performance.

“I was hoping our girls would come out on top, but they played real well today,” he added. “We’re excited about Lily’s potential. She has worked hard on her game.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) DeTour’s Kaalin Crawford gets ready to hit a tee shot during Thursday’s U.P. Division 3 Golf Finals at Gladstone’s Irish Oaks Golf Course. Watching Crawford hit are Ontonagon’s Samantha Lutz, left, and Engadine’s Lauren Dennis. (Middle) Cedarville’s Lily Freel hits a tee shot Thursday; she shot 82 to win the medalist honor. (Photos by Mike Mattson.)

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.)