GR Catholic Central Earns 1st Finals Title, Timpf Claims 3rd Medalist Honor

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

October 21, 2023

ALLENDALE – Adverse weather conditions couldn’t prevent the Grand Rapids Catholic Central girls golf team from making school history.

Despite two days of rain, wind and chilly temperatures, the Cougars overcame the elements to win their first Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final.

Catholic Central shot a 673 at The Meadows at Grand Valley State to win by 12 strokes.

Williamston finished runner-up with a 685, while 2022 champion Macomb Lutheran North (696) was third.

“It’s exciting,” Catholic Central coach Kim Napieralski said. “Just think about it. The boys had their first a couple years ago, and now the girls have their first. We’re on a roll.

“The good news about this weather is I have mudders for players. They don’t care about the conditions as much as some other teams perhaps. It was hard to get through the puddles of water, but they just kept playing.”

Lutheran North senior Lauren Timpf won the medalist honor, claiming her third individual Finals title. She became the seventh golfer in MHSAA Lower Peninsula girls golf history to achieve the feat, carding a 5-under-par 67 to finish with a two-round 141.

The Cougars’ previous best team finish at the Finals was fifth, which happened last year, but they got contributions from across the line-up to prevail.

“It’s been that way all season,” said Napieralski, who returned three of her top four golfers from a year ago. “A couple of girls at the top and then our three, four, five and sometimes even six. It could switch up any day. We go really deep as far as talent across the board.” 

Junior Ava Wisinski led the Cougars with a 158 and finished sixth individually.

“I'm just so proud of my teammates," Wisinski said. “We knew it was going to be a challenge when we went into it, but we really stuck it out and it was a good fight.

“It was really wet out there, but I think we did well despite the conditions.”

Sophomore Kelly Preston also placed in the top 10 with a 159, while sophomores Margaret Deimel and Sofia Piccione and senior Katie Cook also played well.

Cook, the team’s lone senior, said it was even sweeter to win in her final tournament.

Macomb Lutheran North's Lauren Timpf putts during her run to a third medalist honor.“I’ve been on the team since my freshman year, and just seeing it grow has been awesome,” Cook said. “We worked so hard to get here. We’ve had a really good season, and our depth is where we shine and we can all put together good scores on any day.

“We came into today thinking we were even with everyone around us. The conditions were awful, and half of it was playing golf, but half the battle was dealing with the conditions out there. It was really hard, but we did it. We were willing to battle through it.”

Catholic Central opened with a 334 and led Lutheran North and Williamston by 18 strokes heading into the final round.

“It was important to play well the first day and it felt good, but we came into today with the mentality that we’re going first day again,” Napieralski said. “We are all even, straight up.”

Timpf fired a first-day 74 and was tied with Spring Lake’s Zoe Dull entering the final 18 holes. Dull and Grand Rapids Christian’s Lillian O’Grady both finished with two-day totals of 149 to tie for second.

“I know I didn’t play my best golf yesterday, and I just really tried to block it out of my head and know that I am capable of going low,” Timpf said. “Since it was my senior year and last high school tournament, it just really meant the world to me to come out here. I've been working all four years to try and accomplish this goal, and to just come back from where I started today and end up winning is super special.”

Timpf recorded a double-bogey on her first hole, but recovered with four straight birdies on the back nine.

“After the first hole I thought that I’m not going to win this if I don't start making some putts,” Timpf said. “I started draining a bunch of birdie putts, especially on the back nine, and that got it going for me.

Williamston was tied with Lutheran North entering Saturday, and the two teams were still knotted on the back nine.

“What my girls did the last hour and a half is kind of a blur to me,” Hornets coach Brian Kent said. “We started making putts, we started making chips and I thought for the first time in school history we are in the top five and might get state runner-up.”

The Hornets shot a 333, the lowest in the final round. This was their first top-two Finals finish.

“I'm proud of my team,” Kent said. “I knew on day one of practice that we had a special team, but this is not what I thought. This course is tough on a good day, let alone with these conditions. We all had to play the same conditions, but they were hitting greens and fairways all day long and that's what saved us.”

Leading the way for Williamston was junior Nicole Schafer, who finished fourth overall with rounds of 77 and 73.

Freshman Paige Radebach and seniors Ellie Thorburn and Allison Kane rounded out the top four.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Ava Wisinski follows a shot during the weekend's LP Divison 3 Final. (Middle) Macomb Lutheran North's Lauren Timpf putts during her run to a third medalist honor. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

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