ESCANABA — The third try was the charm for DeTour junior Madison Wilkie on Thursday as she earned the Upper Peninsula Division 3 girls golf championship for the first time.
Wilkie, who was runner-up the past two years, fired an 85 at the Escanaba Country Club on this sunny and mild day.
“I think today I was a lot less nervous,” she said. “I’ve been here before and played quite a few rounds on this course. Being familiar with the course helps a lot.”
Wilkie became the first DeTour golfer to be crowned U.P. champion since 2007, when Erin Worden captured the Division 3 title.
Cedarville claimed the team championship for the first time in four years with 402 strokes, followed by DeTour with 434, Munising 460 and two-time reigning champion Bark River-Harris 465.
Wilkie started with a 45 on the front nine, then lowered her score to 40 on the back.
‘I could have done better on the front nine,” she added. “Before we got on the back nine, I told myself I could play a lot better. I started hitting my shots more solid. I was getting better contact with my irons, especially on my approach shots. My tee shots were pretty consistent.”
Cedarville senior Annie Eberts was runner-up at 89. DeTour junior Kaalin Crawford placed third with a 94.
“This is the third time I played here for the Finals,” said Eberts, who shot 97 the past two years. “In the past when a hole didn’t go my way, I would get mad and that’s the worst thing you can do. I stayed calm this time. When a hole didn’t go my way, I just focused on the next hole. I practiced a lot this year. I wanted to end on a good note and help our team. We all worked hard, did our responsibilities and pulled our weight. Madison is a very good player and deserves to be champion. She works hard at her game, too.”
The golfers were greeted by temperatures in the mid 60s and a gentle breeze from the south.
“It was a beautiful day to play,” said Crawford. “You just had to pay attention to the wind. I thought the greens were in perfect shape, and my short game was working pretty good. Taking second as a team will definitely motivate us for next year.”
All four DeTour golfers are juniors.
“The girls played well all year,” said DeTour coach Keli Kelly. “Madison had been close the past couple years and finally sealed the deal today. Us and Cedarville had been the main competition in our area all season. This is a tribute to the girls and all the hard work they do.”
Cedarville has three juniors and an eighth-grader, with Eberts its lone graduate.
“The biggest key is all the girls performed better than in previous meets,” said Cedarville coach Dewey Lopes. “Annie plays real well. She was in a slump earlier, but came through big-time. Our eighth-grader (Lily Freel) also did well under pressure. We’ll graduate Annie. Everybody else will be back, but she’ll be hard to replace.”
Chassell freshman Marli Hietala took fourth at 97, followed by Freel at 98 and Cedarville junior Elissa Griffin at 100.
Junior Bailey Downs was Munising’s leader in seventh (101) and BR-H senior Hannah Starnes was eighth (103).
“I’m very proud of our girls,” said Bark River-Harris coach Scott Farnsworth. “They’ve worked very hard all year. Golf is one of those sports in which every day is different and each year the competition changes. Cedarville and DeTour are very strong teams. There’s pretty good competition all the way around in D-3.”
Painesdale-Jeffers junior Julia Nordstrom in ninth (106) and Big Bay de Noc junior Ariel Cousineau (108) rounded out the top 10 individual placers.
PHOTOS: (Top) DeTour's Madison Wilkie tees off on No. 10 at Escanaba Country Club during Thursday's Final. Wilkie, a junior, was the tournament's medalist with an 85. (Middle) Cedarville's Lily Freel watches her putt catch the lip of the hole on No. 6. Freel, an eighth grader, took fifth overall with a 98. (Photos by Amanda Chaperon.)
Detroit Cass Tech boys basketball coach Steve Hall, Farmington Hills Mercy girls golf coach Vicky Kowalski and East Grand Rapids girls swimming & diving coach Butch Briggs and have been named a 2022-23 National Coach of the Year in their respective sports by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.
They were selected by a committee including representatives from all eight NFHS sections – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The following brief bios include an excerpts from each honoree’s coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.
Steve Hall guided Detroit Cass Tech to its first MHSAA Finals championship last season as the Technicians capped a 28-1 run. He’s 160-30 in his eighth season directing Cass Tech, with his team 9-0 this winter, and he has a career high school record of 370-103 having also coached at Detroit Rogers (1996-97 through 2004-05) and Detroit Northwestern (2005-06 through 2007-08). He led Rogers to three straight Class D championships from 2003-05, led Northwestern to its first Detroit Public School League championship in 30 years and Cass Tech to its first in the PSL in 19 seasons. He also coached collegiately as an assistant at Duquesne University (2008-09 through 2011-12) and Youngstown State University (2011-12 through 2014-15) before taking over at Cass Tech for the 2015-16 season. He has received multiple state Coach of the Year awards during his tenures at Rogers and Cass Tech, and also serves the latter as athletic director and boys cross country coach.
“My coaching philosophy is ‘Learning Life Skills Through Basketball.’ I have encountered many youngsters that value basketball more than anything. Therefore, I use basketball as a carrot to dangle to help them acquire life skills and other necessities that can benefit them in their lives. Ultimately, when the ball stops bouncing they may be quality fathers, husbands, principals, CEOs, etc., and positive contributors to society. My motto is, “Be better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.” My athletic philosophy is scholarships and championships in that order! We love to win. But winning is not only on the scoreboard but also in life. Accountability, Reliability, Dependability and Responsibility. “Do what you are supposed to do, be where you are supposed to be, every play and every day.” God has blessed me with high morals, values and unmatched energy to leave my student athletes better than I found them.”
Vicky Kowalski completed her 46th season this fall coaching Farmington Hills Mercy’s girls golf team, and led the program to its second-straight Lower Peninsula Division 2 championship and fourth MHSAA Finals title overall. Her teams also have won seven Regional and 21 league championships and were 220-50 in matches entering the season. She has received several coaching awards over the years including statewide awards from the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association (MIGCA) and Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA). Kowalski also is in her 22nd season as Mercy’s girls bowling coach and has coached multiple subvarsity seasons of basketball and volleyball as well. She’s been inducted into Halls of Fame by both MIGCA and the Michigan High School Interscholastic Bowling Coaches Association (MHSIBCA).
“I have always believed in participation. On all the teams I have coached, everyone plays – no one sits the bench. All my athletes have their opportunities to grow in the sport. I have always preached dedication and sportsmanship. The athletes practice well to perform well. They encourage teammates as well as competitors. I enjoy interaction with other coaches. We share coaching techniques and ideas for improving team performance.”
Milton “Butch” Briggs has led the East Grand Rapids girls swimming & diving team to a record 26 MHSAA Finals team championships, the first in 1978 and including six straight from 1981-86 and the program’s current three-year title streak. His girls program also has celebrated 105 individual or relay Finals champions and clinched 33 league team titles. Briggs has received several coaching awards, including nationally for his sport (girls and boys combined) from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association (NHSACA) in 2000 and the NFHS Coaches Association for boys swimming & diving in 2011. He entered this past fall season with a dual meet record of 522-65-1 over his career, which has spanned 49 years total, and his boys teams have won 12 MHSAA Finals. Briggs also has served as an assistant track coach at multiple schools and as MISCA president, and is in the MHSCA Hall of Fame.
“My coaching philosophy has been, and continues to be, a work in progress. I have formed relationships with hundreds of amazing young people. They have taught me life lessons in real time and real situations. As a neophyte coach, the experience revolved around winning. We worked together as a team, supported each other in and out of the pool, and won often. Thankfully, I became aware of the value within each athlete. Today, I attempt to interact with each athlete at every team activity and follow their progress in non-swimming endeavors. In short, when I removed my ego from the team's expectations and outcomes, the entire atmosphere was much more enjoyable and productive. And we are still capable of being successful. The Lord has put me in the right place at the right time.”
Six more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Stefanie Kerska was honored in boys swimming & diving after leading Ann Arbor Pioneer to its third-straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals title under her leadership, and Asa Kelly was recognized in boys track & field after leading Benzie Central to the LPD3 Finals championship. Mt. Morris volleyball coach James Pender was honored after leading his team to the Division 2 Quarterfinals in 2022, when he also eclipsed 1,000 career coaching wins in the sport, and Traverse City St. Francis’ Julie Duffing was awarded in cross country after leading her program to the 2022 LPD3 Finals championship, the program’s second under her leadership. Haslett/Williamston girls lacrosse coach Chad Pastor was honored after leading his team to the Division 2 Semifinals last spring, and Hartland competitive cheer coach Candace Fahr was recognized after leading her team to the MHSAA Finals for the fourth time in her six seasons guiding the program.
The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982.