Forest Hills Northern Reigns Again in D2

October 20, 2018

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Tough weather conditions are a golfer’s worst enemy. That’s particularly the case when the pressure is at its peak – like at the MHSAA Finals. 

But thanks to a great first day of golf Friday, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern didn’t have to worry about the conditions, as the Huskies relied on their 1-2-3 punch of Kay Zubkus, Lilia Henkel and Anna Fay to cruise to their second consecutive Lower Peninsula Division 2 championship Saturday afternoon on the Forest Akers West course at Michigan State University.

Coach Kent Graves’ Huskies shot a two-day total of 656, beating out regional rival Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (680) by 24 strokes. Zubkus topped Northern with a score of 151. The senior beat out Okemos freshman Allison Cui on the first playoff hole to win the individual title. Both players overcame a four-stroke deficit after the first day, with each shooting a 73 to force their playoff.

“Obviously you want everyone chasing you; it takes a lot of the pressure off, maybe allows us to not press as much as maybe we would be coming from behind,” said Graves, whose team beat out Birmingham Marian for the title a year ago. “So to have that big lead after the first day, it’s tough to beat that.”

Northern fired a team score of 332 Friday afternoon, building a 17-shot advantage over Reeths-Puffer. A week earlier, the Rockets defeated Northern in Regional play, firing a state-best score of 310. But this weekend, the Huskies were just too good.

“Northern played really well (Friday). They came to play,” Reeths-Puffer assistant coach Brennan Hallberg said. “It was windy, not quite like it was today, but their top four girls all had good rounds and unfortunately our top four girls had their worst rounds of the season. We had high hopes for this weekend, but (overcoming) a 17-shot deficit is a tall order.”

Reeths-Puffer entered the tournament ranked No. 1 and was on a roll after winning the Regional title. Despite falling a little short, the Rockets by no means had a bad tournament. Senior Karina VanDuinen shot a 161, good for eighth place for the weekend. Her younger sister, Karlie, had a 168, with senior Avery Howard (172) and junior Abby Fansler (179) also scoring for the team.

Still, it was not enough to prevent the Huskies from winning their second straight – and third overall – Finals title. Henkel fired a 153, which tied for third overall with reigning individual champion Shannon Kennedy of Marian. Fay’s 162 was good for a top-10 finish.

“We won last year, and we graduated five seniors,” Graves said. “Kay, Lilia and Anna were my returners. Those three were the heart and soul of our team this year. We had five girls off the JV team come up, and they taught them how to play. They taught them how to win.”

For Zubkus, the day was extra special. The senior, who finished tied for 10th a year ago, rallied on Saturday to force the playoff with Cui. It was the third time Zubkus had played in a playoff. The first two times did not go so well. The third time was the charm.  

“Last year, my good friend (Kennedy) was four shots back going into the second day, and she text me last night and said, ‘Four back’s the number. It’s a good place to be.’ 

“Today I was just out there trying to put up a score that I was proud of because in past state championships I haven’t really done that. It was pretty miserable out there, but I made the best of it.”

Like all the golfers, Zubkus was able to overcome the weather elements, which at times included sub-40 degree weather, hail and sleet. Twice the golfers were called off the course due to lightning and unplayable course conditions.

Finishing behind Zubkus, Cui, Kennedy and Henkel was Fenton senior Charlotte Cunaud, who shot a 156 to finish fifth overall. Rounding out the top 10 were Cailey Rooker of St. Joseph (158), Mia Sooch of Farmington Hills Mercy (159), VanDuinen, Fay and Hailey Roovers of Birmingham Seaholm (166).

Cui’s runner-up finish helped her Chiefs place third overall at 697. Mercy was fourth (724) and Marian fifth (730). Rounding out the top 10 were Fenton (731), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (733), South Lyon (743), St. Joseph (765) and Petoskey (767).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern holds up its championship trophy after a long Saturday in Division 2. (Middle) Okemos’ Allison Cui hits an approach during Friday’s first round. (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