Houghton Extends Finals Streak to 5

May 28, 2015

By Dennis Grall
Special for Second Half

IRON MOUNTAIN – When most people think of the Upper Peninsula's Copper Country, snow (huge amounts) and ice hockey come to mind.

Golf likely would not even be on the radar for most people. There is only one 18-hole course – Portage Lake Golf Club is an excellent layout – in the entire region to go with five 9-hole tracks, and the season is just more than five months long, in a good year.

But the Houghton High School girls easily can convince the most serious doubter that golf is a very attractive and popular activity. They showed that again in a big way here Thursday, romping to their fifth straight Upper Peninsula Division 1 golf championship.

The smallest in the nine-school field posted a 416 total to thump perennial contender Marquette by 20 strokes. Third-place Escanaba had 438, and no one else was better than 510.

Adding additional credence to the golf paradise aura is freshman Kaaren Liston of Houghton, who was medalist with a 90 at the very challenging Pine Grove Country Club. She was five strokes ahead of Marquette's Sydney Higgins, the only other entrant to break 100.

"This was a normal spring. It was a bit different," Houghton coach Corey Markham said of the ability to get on the course in mid-April instead of almost a month later in 2014. "The key is getting out and play and work on your game. They strive to get better.

"There is a lot of pride in the streak. There is not a whole lot of pressure."

Liston said her putting was a key, noting only one 3-putt green. "When I needed to make one, I made it. My chips I got close (to the hole). My putting saved me most of the time," she said. Her driving "was iffy. I hit it straight or to the right."

Liston had a key moment on her ninth hole, which was No. 18 after she started on No. 10. She pounded a long drive into the left rough but needed four swings from 110 yards before finally sinking a putt for double-bogey 6.

"I knew I needed to kick it in gear on the next nine," she said of that stumble that left her with a 10-over 46.

Liston spent spring break in Hilton Head, S.C., with her brother Wyatt and Gunnar Stein, who helped Houghton also retain the boys title. "That really helped get my swing in shape," she said.

She did not bring high personal expectations to Pine Grove. "I try to live in the moment, play my game and don't let it get to my head," she said. "This is great. I'm so excited about this. This is the icing on the cake."

Markham said his freshman ace "has a bright future. She is really a strong golfer."

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) The Houghton girls golf team poses with its MHSAA championship trophy, the fifth straight won by the program. (Middle) Kaaren Liston of Houghton chips out of the rough around the green Thursday at the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Final at Iron Mountain Pine Grove Country Club. Liston claimed medalist honors with a 90 to lead the Gremlins. (Below) Sam Henderson of Escanaba blasts out of a bunker on the eighth hole. She shot 112 to help the Eskymos finish third. (Photos by Dennis Grall.)

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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