Gremlins Push Title Streak to 4

By John Vrancic
Special for

May 28, 2014

MARQUETTE — The Houghton girls capped a short, but successful golf season Wednesday as they captured their fourth consecutive MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 title with 396 strokes.

Runner-up Marquette finished with 423, with third-place Escanaba at 433.

“Three of our girls didn’t play until May 13 when we went to the Negaunee Range Bank Invitational at Wawanowin (Golf Club near Ishpeming),” said Gremlins’ coach Corey Markham. “Some of our new girls did real well. We have a couple real talented golfers, and our seniors (Noelle Polakowski and Megan Kelly) have been real consistent. Noelle and Megan have been part of four U.P. championships. This has been a real hard-working group.”

Gladstone senior Callie Jensen earned medalist honors with a 90 on the Marquette Golf & Country Club’s Heritage course. She was followed by Marquette’s Sydney Higgins with 94 and Kelly at 95.

“I went into a hazard and got a nine on it (on the par-5, No. 4 hole),” said Jensen, who will study at the University of Michigan this fall. “I had a little lane, but I hit a tree and ended up back in the hazard. I think if I could have gotten that down to a six, I would have been pleased with it.

“Overall, I played decent. This is a very challenging course. The greens were faster than we’re used to, although I like fast greens. So I can’t complain about that.”

Like most U.P. teams, Gladstone also started later than usual. The Braves opened their season May 1 at the Escanaba Country Club.

“We had a lot of tournaments cancelled due to bad weather,” said Jensen. “The late start made it harder to get into the swing of things.”

After the tournament, Braves’ coach Dane Quigley paid tribute to Jensen’s farewell performance and career.

“I thought Callie played well,” he said. “Yes, she took a nine on one hole. But that’s a quality golfer and young lady we’re losing. Callie is very dedicated to our program. She’s going to be missed, as (will) all of our other seniors.”

Manistique junior Hailey Hoholik placed fourth at 97, a stroke better than Escanaba senior Kelsey Motto.

“I thought everything went pretty good, although I should have done better on a few holes,” said Hoholik, who played on the Heritage course for the first time. “My putting didn’t go as well as I hoped. The greens were fast. Ours at home (at Indian Lake Golf Course) are pretty slow. This was a big adjustment at first. But by the third hole, I started getting used to it.”

Like Jensen, Motto received her due from Escanaba coach Brian Robinette.

“Kelsey has been an ambassador for our golf team,” said Robinette. “We spent four years together. Our girls’ program was barely breathing when I started. Kelsey knows what it takes to nurture the younger kids and play the game the right way. She has been a top-five golfer from the beginning of the year to the end. I think she’s going into college golf with a lot of momentum and self-belief.”

Motto, who will continue her golf career at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis., next season, was followed by Houghton’s Adison Cook with a 99 and Polakowski with a 100.

The Gremlins also had a fourth golfer in the top 10, with Taryn Kaurala taking ninth overall at 102.

“Some of our girls came up through the junior program at Michigan Tech, which is a great program,” Markham said. “They’re all very competitive. They’ve been able to shake it off when they had a bad hole.” 

Polakowski shared seventh with Marquette’s Hannah Crampton.

“Sydney’s second-place finish helped us get where we needed,” Marquette coach Ben Smith said. “Hannah had a solid round and Leah Anderson has been in the mix all year. Houghton is solid. It seems like Megan Kelly has been with them forever. I’m thrilled for our girls. Their scores got better through the season.” 

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PHOTOS: (Top) Houghton's Megan Kelly hits from the first fairway during the MHSAA Division 1 U.P. Final on Wednesday. (Middle) Gladstone's Callie Jensen hits out of a bunker on the first fairway; she went on to finish first individually with a 90. (Photos by Adelle Whitefoot.)

Pederson Wins Memorably, Ontonagon Ascends Again in 'Phenomenal' Fashion

By Jason Juno
Special for

May 30, 2024

ESCANABA – Big Bay de Noc’s Camryn Pederson carded an 89 on Thursday to win the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Final individual champion and become the first U.P. champion to clear 90 since 2019.

“It feels really good,” she said. “I tried my best to golf as good as I could today, and I’m really glad that it came out the way it was. It’s a good way to end my senior year.”

She said she liked the open course that was low on hazards at the Escanaba Country Club. And she did most things well during her round Thursday.

“I think I minimized my putts. I only one or two-putt most of the holes,” Pederson said. “And my drives were really good.”

She became the second golfer from Big Bay de Noc to win a U.P. Finals individual golf title. Samantha Guertin won Division 3 in 2006 with a 90.

Pederson’s team was seeking its first title since 2005 after finishing runner-up last year, but finished second to a school where girls golf has pretty much always been strong – Ontonagon.

Ontonagon celebrates its latest girls golf Finals championship.When the MHSAA first separated the U.P. Finals into separate classes, Ontonagon won the first 10 Class C-D championships, from 1978 to 1987. When Class D got its own U.P. championship tournament, the Gladiators girls won the first four, part of a five-year run of titles from 1994 to 1998. When classifications changed again in 2001, and the name of the smallest group of schools changed from Class D to Division 3, Ontonagon didn’t stop winning, racking up seven more Finals championships.

On Thursday, the Gladiators made it eight wins in Division 3 and 23 overall.

Two of their golfers finished under 100 – runner-up Madyson Pantti carded a 94, and Sam Bailey had a 98. All five finished among the top 10 individuals. Summer Stites’ 100 was good for a fourth-place tie, and Olivia Lockhart and Shayna Stites tied for 10th with 108s.

It was the first U.P. Finals golf championship for all of them, including coach Jim Jessup. The Gladiators’ last team wins came with back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019.

Ontonagon repeated as Copper Mountain Conference champion this year. The Gladiators had finished third last season at the U.P. Division 3 Final and outshot Big Bay de Noc on Thursday by eight strokes, 400-408. Ontonagon shot 36 strokes better than at last season’s Final, and every golfer shot under 110, which Jessup called “phenomenal.”

“I think the girls just worked really hard to better themselves,” he said. “Their stroke play was better, their consistency was better.”

Pantti improved her score by eight strokes from last year’s Final. The junior will have another shot at an individual championships in 2025, but she had a lot to be proud of this time with her runner-up finish that led the Gladiators to a team title.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “It was something that we’d been looking forward to all season. We’ve done good in a lot of our meets, and I thought this was a really good year for us.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Big Bay de Noc's Camryn Pederson follows her drive on No. 4 on Thursday at Escanaba Country Club. (Middle) Ontonagon celebrates its latest girls golf Finals championship. (Photos by Jason Juno.)