Focused Fenton Aiming for Record Finish

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

September 26, 2017

The middle and ring fingers join the thumbs in making a heart, or at least most of the popular heart hand gesture.

The forefinger and pinky, however, are showing off their wild side, pointed up as if to say, “Rock on.”

To most, it’s meaningless finger gymnastics. To the Fenton girls golf team, however, it’s the symbol for their team motto: Grind.

“It kind of calms us down in a way,” Fenton senior Molly Gundry said. “If you’re having a really stressful round and you see someone else from the team and they give you the grind symbol, it reminds you to settle down, because this isn’t just for yourself, it’s for the team.”

Whether it’s through grinding out holes or simply making shots, the Tigers are off to quite a start this fall. They’ve shot a school-record nine-hole score (163) twice.

They’ve won the Genesee County Tournament, and find themselves ranked No. 9 in the Division 2 Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association Lower Peninsula rankings.

“I think that last year we kind of had a good idea that we were OK,” senior Margaret Berry said. “Coming into this year, we knew we had to put in a lot of work to be as good as we wanted to be. But I think last year, we knew since we weren’t graduating any seniors, that this was kind of our year.”

Fenton placed ninth in the MHSAA LP Division 2 Finals a year ago at The Meadows on the campus of Grand Valley State University. Four of the girls who played there – Gundry, Berry, senior Keegan Miller and junior Lily Horning  – are back this season, as is Horning’s classmate, Angela Hanners. Freshman Brooke Herbstreit, the daughter of veteran coach Kurt Herbstreit, has joined the team this season and found herself among the scorers often, making the Tigers even deeper.

“Going into freshman year we had (Gundry, Miller and Berry), and we were all pretty good for freshmen,” Gundry said. “I knew that by the time we were seniors, we were going to have a pretty good team -- especially during our junior year, we realized that next year could be really good.”

The team’s goal is stated explicitly on its Facebook page under the “Mission” heading: “Win the Metro League and go to states.” While it’s a goal the Tigers target every season, this year it feels as attainable as in any other. The team has set an even greater goal of finishing top-five at the Finals, matching or even besting Fenton’s best finishes (fifth, twice, most recently in 2013).

“If we all play our absolute best, I think we could have a chance,” Berry said. “I’m not sure if we could finish first, but maybe in the top two or three.”

Of course, to even get there, the Tigers will need to place in the top three of a loaded Regional. Fortunately for them, the tournament will be played at Fenton Farms Golf Course, which isn’t their home course (that’s Tyrone Hills) but is awfully familiar.

“I was always looking forward to this year,” Kurt Herbstreit said. “That’s one of the reasons we put in to host the Regional. Our Regional is extremely tough -- it’s a really tough region. Four of the top 10 teams that are ranked right now are in our region, and there’s a fifth one that could probably be in the top 10. So that’s five teams who are deserving to go to state, and only three are going to go. We all know it, so there’s going to be a lot of nerves on Oct. 11 for our Regional, because we know it’s stacked.”

With his team aiming to get back to the Finals and playing well there, Herbstreit has had to work on keeping his golfers focused throughout the season. With a veteran group that’s close on and off the course, however, that hasn’t been difficult.

“Golf is so individual, especially during the summer, so the girls really look forward to coming together as a team,” Kurt Herbstreit said. “As I’ve done this for 11 years, the thing I tried to focus on is making it a team, making it a family. They get along really well, and we try to have them be competitive, but yet still be teammates. They’ll get together for fun rounds and things like that.”

When the big tournaments do get here, the Tigers know they have the talent to do well, and even if things aren’t going well, it will only take one hand gesture from a teammate to remind them of what they need to do.

“One bad hole can end up making your round or breaking your round,” Gundry said. “We just need to think about grinding it out.”

Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) From left, Fenton's Keegan Miller, Brooke Herbstreit, Margaret Berry, Molly Gundry and Lily Horning hold up their trophy after winning the Genesee County championship this month. (Middle) Miller watches one of her shots during last season's LP Division 2 Final, where the Tigers finished ninth. (Top photo courtesy of Fenton girls golf, bottom by

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