Iron Mountain Atones, Emeralds Ace Medals

June 2, 2016

By Dennis Grall
Special for Second Half

NORWAY – The Iron Mountain girls golf team found solid incentive and excellent motivation and turned that into an Upper Peninsula championship Thursday.

The Mountaineers atoned for a third-place finish a week earlier in the Mid-Peninsula Conference tournament, also held here at Oak Crest Golf Club, to overcome M-PC champion Manistique for the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 title title. IM finished at 490, a dozen strokes ahead of Manistique, which slid back to third.

Iron River West Iron County finished second in the five-team field with 497.

A week earlier Manistique shot 460 while IM had 499. Ishpeming Westwood, the M-PC runner-up, competed in the Division 1 Final on Thursday in Ishpeming.

"Each one of them improved their game from the Mid-Pen Conference," said IM coach Bucky Johnson. "We played a little better and a few of their (Manistique) girls didn't play as good."

Manistique coach Deb Taylor agreed, adding "our girls just didn't play up to their potential today."

Johnson said he discussed his team's prospects with the girls leading up to the U.P. Finals. "We have been chasing Manistique all year. I told them if we keep getting better we will have the opportunity to win the championship," he said.

The girls responded, which did not surprise Johnson because they have participated in all the team practices and meets all season. "Their consistency paid off; they were persistent," he said.

IM succeeded with three juniors (Lexi Verrette, Libby Brown and Megan Milliron), sophomore Miranda Julian and freshman Jenna Santini. Milliron led the Mountaineers with a 53-60 - 113.

"If each girl improved their score by five to seven strokes, I knew we would have a legitimate chance of winning," said Johnson. "All year I thought we would have a chance."

One member of the Emeralds who did play well was senior Rachel Ryan, who earned medalist honors with a 105 (52-53). "She has been here four years and has been steady," said Taylor.

Ryan credits her father, Manistique athletic director Rob Ryan (one of the better men's golfers in the Upper Peninsula), for getting into position to take the top spot.

"He never pushed me to play, but he definitely encouraged me to play," she said. "I learned everything I know from him."

Ryan kept pushing forward throughout her round, which helped her maintain poise when she had some poor shots. "I try not to get upset; that would never help," she said. "I try to stay pretty mentally stable. I try to stay calm and collected."

That solid thought process also came in handy when she began to rely on her "go-to" 3-wood for many tee shots. "I started making safer choices," she said of declining to hit driver.

She had problems putting, agreeing the greens were notably slower than at her home course, Manistique Indian Lake, which is known for its slippery putting surfaces. Faced with the slower greens, she said, "I stood over the ball and told myself to hit it to the back of the hole.

"I knew if I played my best I would have a chance (to medal). I just tried to relax and have fun. This is my last one ever (as a high school golfer)."

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PHOTOS: (Top) Rachel Ryan of Manistique watches her tee shot on No. 4 on Thursday at Norway's Oak Crest Golf Club during the Upper Peninsula Division 2 golf tournament. Ryan was medalist with a 105. (Middle) Iron Mountain won the team championship; the team includes, from left, coach Bucky Johnson, Libby Brown, Miranda Julian, Lexi Verrette, Jana Santini and Megan Milliron. (Photos by Denny Grall.)

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