Good to Great, to Miss Golf Candidate

October 7, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A seventh grader at the time, Jacqueline Setas followed DeWitt’s Liz Nagel through newspaper articles as the Panthers standout played her way to the 2008 Miss Golf Award.

Nagel is considered perhaps the best ever to come from the Lansing area. But the same is being said now of the Lansing Catholic junior's potential.

Setas has accomplishments to earn to match Nagel, but is off to a strong start with two Division 4 all-state selections. And this summer, Setas found herself finishing second only to Nagel in the stroke play of the Michigan Women’s Amateur – and then matching Nagel by making the semifinals of the match play.

It was a tremendous performance during an excellent summer, and further set the table for the high expectations Setas is making good on this fall.

“It’s crazy to be mentioned in the same breath as her,” Setas said of Nagel. “I feel like this summer, I was playing really well. I feel my game was up there with (the best) too.”

A Second Half High 5 recipient this week, Setas has won five tournaments this season and finished second twice as the two-time MHSAA Division 4 champion Cougars have loaded their schedule with the best from all over the state. She’s averaging 74.3 strokes for 18 holes and 35.9 for nine-hole matches, and last week fired a 68 to win the Capital Area Activities Conference White championship at Wheatfield Valley.

Setas’ most impressive win likely came at the East Lansing Invitational at Walnut Hills Country Club, where she grew up winning junior club championships. She shot a 70 to finish five strokes better than a field that included returning all-state Super Team selection Hannah Pietila of Brighton.

Setas’ runner-up finishes were nearly as impressive as her wins – she shot a 72 at Milford’s Heather Highlands Shootout to finish second to Plymouth Super Team selection Kelsey Murphy, and shot a 76 to finish two strokes behind Muskegon Catholic Central all-stater Aya Johnson at Birmingham Country Club.

Setas shot 39 or better in all seven of her team’s nine-hole matches, finishing first at all but one and shooting lows of 30 and 33.

She is one of an impressive crew of golf talents in the Lansing area this fall: Okemos’ Elle Nichols, like Murphy, also is a returning Super Team selection, and Holt’s Pader Her and Lansing Catholic teammates Dani Crilley and Janie Fineis all can go toe-to-toe with the best in the state.

“Our top three have played incredibly consistent golf, and they’ve had a great run,” Cougars coach Mary Schafer said. “It’s that mixture of athletic ability, loving the sport and wanting to get better. They can have a ton of natural athletic ability, but they don’t reach their potential because they don’t work at it hard enough. If they’re prepared, keep working at it, and work at getting better, they go from being really good to great.”

And in Schafer’s mind, that describes Setas’ progression exactly.

Setas isn’t just a golfer. She plays wing on the basketball team and centerfield in the spring. But break down her golf game, and it’s easy to understand why she’s considered a natural at her favorite sport.

She drives the ball 260 yards, about 15 more than a year ago, and with a sharp short game to match. Her course management also has improved this fall, and her mentality is just right. “Bad bounces, they don’t last long with her,” Schafer said.

But Setas sees her success as a result of something more. She played every day from May into the beginning of high school season, and in tournaments all but two weekends this summer.

“Probably (it's) just the dedication that I’ve put in throughout the years,” Setas said. “People think it’s natural talent, and some of it is. But most of it is the hard work I’ve put in throughout the year.”

Manistique Celebrates 2nd-Straight Finals Medalist, 1st Team Title Since 2015

By Jason Juno
Special for Second Half

May 31, 2023

NORWAY – After finishing runner-up to her teammate by one stroke last year, it was Nora Cunningham’s turn to be an Upper Peninsula Finals champion.

But more important to her was the fact that she and Macy Green, last year’s UP Division 2 medalist, led Manistique to a team championship Wednesday at Oak Crest.

“It feels really good,” Cunningham said of her individual achievement. “Above all, though, I think the team win definitely feels the best. Last year we ended up good individually, but the team win was our ultimate goal, so it was nice to get that this year.”

Manistique finished with a score of 455 for its first UP Finals title since 2015, and after the Emeralds finished fifth last spring. Bark River-Harris was runner-up with a 501.

Bark River-Harris’ Ella Boney hits out of the sand during her UPD2 Final round. Cunningham – who tied for second individually in 2022 – shot a 101 this time to finish three strokes ahead of Bark River-Harris’ Ava McDonough. Green and Manistique teammate Maddy Maline both carded 107s.

Oak Crest played tougher than it looked, Cunningham said. There’s a lot of trees, and she lost balls in the rough. She had a couple of rough holes, carding an 8 and a 9, but kept them to a minimum.

“I think I had really consistent drives, and then I just tried to take it hole by hole and not get too frustrated,” she said. “I had some rough holes, but I just bounced back from them.”

Her game is even better than it was last year. 

“Nora has added an extreme amount of distance off the tee,” Manistique coach Tim Noble said. “She’s really hitting drives past most everyone else. And it’s allowed her short game to flourish because she doesn't have to hit those mid irons like she used to.”

It had to be a happy ride back to Manistique after a hot day on the golf course. The boys team also won the UPD2 title, and the Emeralds’ Ryan McEvers was medalist.

Pretty much all the hardware went to Manistique.

Macy Green tees off for the Emeralds.“It is excellent that we both have the U.P. title, really good for the town of Manistique,” Noble said. “One of our better sports; we usually do pretty well in golf.”

He said he knew a team sweep was possible, but he had more confidence in the girls thanks to Cunningham and Green, who had great days both last year and this year.

“It’s nice to see Nora and Macy really have some success,” Noble said. “Macy picked it up as a sophomore, she learned to golf (after being a really good softball player). Nora’s going for college golf. It’s nice to see her go out on top.”

Cunningham signed to golf at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

Bark River-Harris’ Ella Boney and West Iron County’s Kya Dallavalle both finished with 115s to round out the top five.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Manistique’s Nora Cunningham tees off during her round Wednesday at Oak Crest. (Middle) Bark River-Harris’ Ella Boney hits out of the sand during her UPD2 Final round. (Below) Macy Green tees off for the Emeralds. (Photos by Jason Juno.)