Divine Child Completes 4-Year Drive for 1st Championship

October 16, 2021

BATTLE CREEK – Dearborn Divine Child’s first steps toward Saturday began in 2018 when three freshmen helped the girls golf team return to the MHSAA Finals and finish 13th in Lower Peninsula Division 3.

A year later, that trio helped the Falcons move up to ninth. Then came last season, and plenty of adjustments, including a move to Division 2 – but Divine Child kept moving up the leaderboard, tying for fifth with Zeinab Saad, Julia Lizak and Madina Saad again leading the way.

All of that set the stage for this weekend at Battle Creek’s Bedford Valley, and especially the final round. Those three seniors, along with junior Mary Ronayne – who joined the Finals lineup in 2020 – posted the best score of Saturday to overtake first-round leader South Lyon and lock up the first girls golf championship in program history.

Divine Child’s 344 made up for a six-stroke deficit after Friday and kept the Falcons ahead of eventual runner-up Byron Center with a two-day 691, good for a nine-stroke win.  

“It’s kinda unbelievable, but my team worked so hard for this and it’s been our goal since freshman year – and it feels good to finally complete our goal,” Lizak said. “We’ve been doing so good this year as a team, and we just had a feeling – especially last week talking about it. We came in thinking we could place really well.

“They’re my best friends, and I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. I love them all.”

Lizak cut five strokes from her first-round score to finish with a two-day 157, good for seventh individually, and Zeinab Saad shot matching 82s to tie for ninth. Leila Saad was three strokes better Saturday to finish with a 173, and Ronayne carded a 197.

Zeinab Saad and Lizak had missed the top-10 individual list in 2020 by two and three strokes, respectively, when the Finals were just one round because of COVID-19 precautions.

South Lyon golf“After last year, when we tied for fifth, I knew all we needed was just a little bit more,” Divine Child coach Dan Berry said, “and with the possibility that if it all came together and they played the way I knew they could play, we could get there. And they did, and we pulled through."

A year ago it was South Lyon celebrating its first team Finals title, and the Lions finished a solid third this time with a lineup of two seniors and three juniors – including a standout who picked up her second individual championship.

Junior Gabriella Tapp shot a two-round 144 to finish four strokes ahead of runner-up KT Leinwand of Portage Northern and add to the individual title she won as a freshman. Tapp tied for sixth a year ago.

“When I came here I was hoping our team would be able to win, and I was just rooting for them all day. Myself was a secondary thought,” Tapp said. “We have a lot of strong players on our team, and I think next year we’ll definitely have a shot too.”

Following Leinwand, a sophomore, in the individual standings was Byron Center sophomore Macie Elzinga, who cut two strokes from her Friday score to finish the weekend at 152. Her team was tied for fourth after the first day and cut eight strokes during the second to finish at 700.

Byron Center will graduate only one from its Finals lineup.

“At the start of the season, no one on our team thought we’d even make it here. I played really well and a lot of people on our team played well, so we’re really happy about it,” Elzinga said. “I’m not going to stop working hard at this. I want this one bad. There’s all the best players in the state here, and to be able to compete against them is pretty cool. I learned a lot about my game and how I can handle pressure, and I’m proud of how I played.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Dearborn Divine Child’s Julia Lizak powers through a drive during Friday’s first round at Bedford Valley. (Middle) South Lyon’s Gabriella Tapp putts Friday; she finished the weekend with her second individual championship. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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