Hackett Reaches Champion's Expectation

October 18, 2014

By Dean Holzwarth
Special to Second Half

ALLENDALE – Members of Kalamazoo Hackett’s girls golf team noticed the winter hats right away Friday night while shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Grandville.

“We all wanted to match,” senior Carrie Radomsky said. “We sprinted toward them when we saw them.”

The stylish hats were needed on a frigid afternoon at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University, and they coincided with the Fighting Irish’s balanced play on the course.

Kalamazoo Hackett claimed its first MHSAA Finals title on Saturday with a dominating showing at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 championship tournament.

The Fighting Irish tallied a two-round score of 690 and defeated runner-up Harbor Springs (724) by 34 strokes.

Macomb Lutheran North placed third at 728.

“It means a lot,” fourth-year Kalamazoo Hackett coach Alan Radomsky said. “I was lucky when I came in four years ago that it already was a strong program. The players made the decision not only to be a good program, but they wanted to be great and do the best that they could.

“I believe if you set high expectations for kids, they love that, and these girls basically accepted that challenge. They practice hard every day, and they have fun every day. These girls have earned everything because of the amount of effort and work they put in.”

The Fighting Irish, who closed with a 341 in the final round, had two girls finish among the individual top 10.

Carrie Radomsky (87-82-169) tied for seventh, while junior Lizzie Stull (87-84-171) tied for ninth.

“This is so special,” Carrie Radomsky said. “I’m so happy to be able to win with my team, and this is the best team I could ask for to win a state championship with.

“At the beginning of the year we knew that we had a good chance to win state, and that has made it that much more special.”

Stull, the team’s No. 1 player, struggled on the front nine Saturday, but turned it around by shooting 1-over on the back.

“I realized that I needed to pull it together for my team because I wanted to make them proud, and I wanted to win a state championship,” Stull said. “I was playing for them and not myself. I know that it was hard conditions, but I’m so proud of everyone and everyone played really well.”

The remainder of the squad consisted of junior Rebecca Radomsky, senior Erinn Scott and sophomore Naomi Keyte.

Alan Radomsky was thrilled to share the feat with his two daughters on the squad.

“It’s incredibly special,” he said. “When the job came open, I didn’t want to coach. I thought they could learn more from someone else, and I could just be a parent.

“But I took (the job), and it ended up being the best experience I’ve ever had with anything I’ve done.”

Harbor Springs recorded its best Finals finish in school history. Senior Abbey Detmar made a fantastic comeback from a first-round 90 and carded a tournament-low 75 to place third overall.

“We strongly felt that we had a shot at it,” Harbor Springs coach Pete Kelbel said. “Coming out of regionals we had the lowest score of all the teams, so I thought coming down here that we were a legitimate contender for the title.

“We knew the history of Kalamazoo Hackett, so we’re not disappointed to lose to them. I’m very proud of the girls for runner-up and very happy.”

Maple City Glen Lake sophomore Nichole Cox captured individual honors.

Cox earned medalist with a 159 after rounds of 83 and 76. She edged Farwell’s Bria Colosky (83-77-160) by one stroke.

“I just wanted to do better than Friday and stay focused,” Cox said. “My goal coming in was to win, and when I looked at everyone who was playing, I thought I had a chance.”

Cox registered three birdies in her final round, and her only hiccup was a double-bogey on the last hole.

“That stunk, but I was still OK,” Cox said. “I was a little worried after that because I didn’t know how far ahead I was.”

Cox said an improved putting stroke and consistency from the fairway helped propel her to the top of the leader board.

“All of my putts were going in until that last hole, and I was getting on the greens in regulation,” she said. “I also hit my driver straighter. 

“I don’t think I’ve comprehended all of this yet, but I’m very happy.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Kalamazoo Hackett had been a contender in the past, but claimed its first MHSAA title Saturday. (Middle) Maple City Glen Lake sophomore Nichole Cox follows through on a putt on the way to winning the individual title. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com).

3-Sport Standout Sluss Gives Lenawee Christian All-State Boost for Every Season

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

January 11, 2023

ADRIAN – Avery Sluss picked up a golf club for the first time her freshmen year at Adrian Lenawee Christian. Now she’s an all-state golfer.

Southeast & BorderSluss started playing basketball because it was a way for her and her older brother, Gavin, to connect. She’s now the leading scorer on the Cougars basketball team a year after receiving all-state recognition.

Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. She will return to the soccer field in the spring already with her college plans in place. She signed recently to play goalkeeper at Indiana Wesleyan University.

“I’ve learned so much from sports,” Avery said. “It teaches me a lot about life.”

Her coaches call her a self-motivated athlete, quiet leader and someone dedicated to her faith, her teammates, and academics. She is a 4.0 student and has played four years of varsity golf, basketball, and soccer. She’s earned all-state recognition in all three sports.

“She is very self-motivated,” said first-year Lenawee Christian girls basketball coach Emilie Beach. “She doesn’t miss workouts or practices. She pushes herself hard. She forces others to rise (around her).”

Sluss is in her fourth season on the Lenawee Christian varsity basketball team. This year her role changed from mostly a defensive specialist to scorer.

Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center.Beach said Avery hasn’t changed her positive attitude with the changes in her role on the team. She has a high basketball IQ, Beach said, which helps her on the court.

“It can be tough and frustrating, but she comes in with a great attitude each day and leads her teammates,” Beach said. “She is a quiet leader who leads by example. She is hardest on herself, and that’s where a lot of her motivation comes from.”

The Cougars have had great success on the basketball floor the last several years, and Sluss has been part of it. She’s played alongside all-staters and played at the Breslin Center. She started and played 20 minutes in last year’s Semifinal loss to Plymouth Christian Academy.

This season she’s averaging 14.5 points a game, with 16 3-pointers, and has scored at least 17 points four times.

“It’s very different, but I like the role I’m in now,” she said. “Now, it’s like you have to score. I’ve accepted it. I’m just trying my best to fulfill that role for my teammates.”

Sluss sat out the fall travel soccer season while she was recovering from a slight back injury. But she was able to hit the golf course. She shot a two-day total of 186 at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final, helping the Cougars finish second as a team. A year earlier Sluss shot an 89 and 87 and helped the Cougars finish fourth overall.

Not bad for someone who didn’t pick up a golf club until just a few years ago.

“Golf was new to me my freshman year,” she said. “Some of my friends said I should try it, so I did. I went to the range maybe one or two times before I started to play. I’ve loved it.”

As far as sports goes, soccer was her first love. She started playing at the age of 4 when a neighborhood dad gathered a few girls together and formed a team.

“We started playing in the back yard,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer ever since. My first travel team was when I was 7.”

Sluss first started thinking about playing college soccer when she was in kindergarten.

“I’ve always wanted to play soccer in college,” she said. “I’ve dreamed about that. I’ve spent so much time on the sport that it would be silly not to. I want it to pay off with college.”

Sluss plants a chip on the green. She used to play multiple positions but turned to goalkeeper at the age of 12.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “There are a lot of little things. The mental part of being a goalkeeper is important.”

After being named to the coaches association all-state third team last year, Sluss is primed for a big season this spring, especially with her college choice behind her.

“It is a strong Christian college, which was important to me,” she said. “It’s a lot like Lenawee Christian. Everyone on the soccer team was great when I met them, and the girls are so nice.”

Sluss has become adept at mixing sports with academics and life.

“Balance is a big issue,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, especially doing two at a time.

“My whole family, my parents (David and Kristen), they always push me to be the best I can be. I owe them a lot. Even my little sister (Addie) pushes me to do my best.”

Avery’s family moved from Toledo to the Adrian area several years ago, and the two perfectly complement to each other.

“Lenawee Christian has been a great fit for me,” she said. “All of the people are awesome, and I have grown in my faith here.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Avery Sluss gathers up the ball while playing keeper for Lenawee Christian’s soccer team. (Middle) Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Below) Sluss plants a chip on the green. (Photos courtesy of the Lenawee Christian athletic department.)