History in the Making - New and Old

October 24, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Last week’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals marked the 42nd anniversary of the association’s sponsorship of the sport, and we've been researching some of the first and finest performances from the tournament's history – coincidentally, as a current player added a small touch with a big shot Saturday.

Read on to learn more about that feat and the first team to hoist an MHSAA girls golf championship trophy. And speaking of trophies, we've also got the story behind one of the oldest football traveling prizes still making the rounds in the Upper Peninsula.

An Ace Arrives

Fenton’s Madi Shegos finished her 2013 Finals by making history at Michigan State’s University’s Forest Akers East, a frequent MHSAA Finals site over the last two decades.

The course redesigned its 18th hole from a short par-4 to a par-3 this season. And Shegos became the first to score it a hole-in-one, doing so during the second round of the Division 2 Final.

Retired longtime East Lansing coach George Jones, also a longtime assistant at the Finals and the taker of the photo at right, added: “Madi Shegos did something almost every golfer around the world never gets a chance to do or if given the chance, doesn't do.

“Sure, every par three at Forest Akers and nearly every other par three around the world has had an ace, but on Friday Madi was the very first to accomplish this on the newly-constructed 18th hole on the East Course. No one else will ever be the first. This honor goes to Madi Shegos, a sophomore at Fenton High School.”

Shegos improved six strokes during her second round to shoot a 103 on Saturday as Fenton finished fifth in Division 2 for the second straight season.

First to Reign

Although Lower Peninsula girls golf was played during the spring for its first 35 years, and Upper Peninsula girls golf remains in the spring to this day, the first girls MHSAA championship tournament actually took place during the fall of the 1972-73 school year – with Pickford claiming the first title by winning the Upper Peninsula Final by three strokes over Escanaba on an October day at Lake Bluff Country Club.

Thanks to some quick work by Pickford athletic director Chuck Bennin and one of the four players on that championship team who now teaches at the high school, we'll soon be adding results of that tournament to our growing archives at MHSAA.com

Here's a quick flashback from that inaugural 9-hole event: The Panthers were led by Patsy Nayback’s 49, which was good for second place individually. Joni Hamilton and sisters Bonnie and Kathleen MacDonald rounded out the lineup and are pictured above. Ishpeming’s Marge Farley shot a 44 to finish as medalist.

Another fun fact from that October day: The Escanaba Daily Press reported that in the boys MHSAA Final, Pickford’s Kevin Hamilton recorded an eagle on the par-5, 472-yard third hole, with his second shot running through a sand trap, up the green and into the cup.

The Lower Peninsula Girls Finals teed off for the first time the following spring, with Bloomfield Hills Lahser defeating East Grand Rapids by a stroke at Grand Ledge’s Troy Hills Golf Course.

Wanted: More Finals Archives

For the majority of MHSAA sports, we’ve published on MHSAA.com results, box scores, etc., for most of our Finals dating to at least the late 1990s. For years prior, we've begun filling in with what we can gather from our formerly-published Books of Champions and MHSAA Bulletins. 

But realizing there are complete copies of results out there in scrap books, trophy cases, newspaper archives and the like, we’d love to gather as many as possible to add to the site.  

If you’ve got results from an MHSAA Finals in any sport that aren't showing at MHSAA.com or that can augment our current collection, please email me at Geoff@mhsaa.com.

First of many

Certainly the most prevalent prize awarded for winners of Michigan’s high school football trophy games is some version of a “little brown jug.” And this weekend, the oldest of the jugs will be on the line when Newberry faces Sault Ste. Marie.

They first played for the trophy in 1925, with the original jug replaced by the current version in 1934. Sault Ste. Marie leads the series 58-33-5 including 46-28-5 in games for the Jug.

Below is an excerpt from a brief history of the trophy researched by Ron Pesch:

In the state’s Upper Peninsula, Newberry High School first played Sault Ste. Marie on the gridiron in 1911 and, for the most part, they have squared off annually since 1923. To commemorate the battle between these schools, legend has it that in 1925, a Newberry druggist donated a Jug to serve as a trophy. The prize was to be retained by the winning team until the next meeting would determine ownership. The idea, of course, came from the Michigan-Minnesota rivalry.

In 1934, for reasons unknown, a new jug debuted. Fittingly, that game between the rivals ended in a 7-7 tie.

Over the years, the rivalry has generated many classic contests between the larger school from the Soo and the smaller Newberry district. The series was interrupted in 1940 and 1959, and then went on a five-year hiatus between 1999 and 2003. As school officials recognized the importance of the series to the residents of the area, the rivalry was resumed in 2004 when the Blue Devils joined Newberry in the Straits Area Conference.

PHOTOS: (Background) The members of the 1972 Pickford girls golf team, as they appeared in the January 1973 MHSAA Bulletin. (Foreground and below) Fenton’s Madi Shegos stands with the flag after drilling the first hole-in-one at the redesigned No. 18 at Forest Akers East during last weekend’s Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final.

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.)