Iron Mountain Sends Coach Out with Win

May 30, 2014

By Burt Angeli
Special to Second Half 

IRON RIVER — Iron Mountain’s girls gave their coach a nice parting gift Thursday in the MHSAA U.P. Division 2 Golf Final at George Young Recreational Complex. 

The Mountaineers of Coach Donny Bianco, shooting 444, successfully defended their U.P. title, topping Ishpeming Westwood, 482, and West Iron County, 513, in the limited girls field.

“It was nice to go out on top in my last year,” said Bianco, who will leave coaching to become the elementary school principal. “This is such a nice group of girls that played hard and got better every week, and that’s what it’s all about. 

“It’s really enjoyable. I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls.”

Cassie Feira, U.P. runner-up medalist last year, led the Mountaineers with a 104. That score was good for third behind medalist Margo Brown of St. Ignace, 98, and Alyssa Norback of L’Anse, at 102. 

Westwood’s Lauren Farley, at 105, and Iron Mountain’s Kathryn Brown, 106, completed the top five.

“We had no real big surprises,” Bianco said of his Mountaineers. “Our number one Cassie has been shooting well all year, and she shot around her average. 

“Catherine Brown played a little better than her average.”

Lexi Verrette and Libby Brown completed Iron Mountain’s championship lineup. The Mountaineers’ next coach will find the lineup intact with three juniors in Feira, Pirkola and Kathryn Brown and two freshmen in Verrette and Libby Brown.

Margo Brown, who helped the Saints reach the Class C Basketball Final, fired a 51 over the front nine and 47 on the back.

“I guess I played good enough,” said Brown, U.P. Division 3 medalist last year and Division 2 runner-up two years ago. “I just wish I had played a little better. 

“Yesterday I had a good practice round, and today wasn’t my best game at all.” 

The junior birdied the 357-yard fourth hole.

“I chipped pretty well and my driver was pretty good,” Brown said.

Norback, playing in the same group with Brown and Feira, registered 50-52 for runner-up medalist. The senior, one shot out of a medal playoff last year, parred the 357-yard fifth hole at George Young. 

Brown and others cited the course conditions and sunny weather. The rough winter appeared to only affect a couple areas.

“The course is in really nice shape, and I was surprised,” Brown said. “We came here a couple weeks ago and it was snowing. 

“I was really happy with the course conditions. The greens are very nice and pretty receptive.”

Noted tournament director Mike Berutti, coordinating his first U.P. golf tourney: “It was a great day for golf.” 

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) L'Anse's Alyssa Norback tees off during Thursday's U.P. Division 2 Final. (Middle) Iron Mountain’s Marti Pirkola looks over a putt by Ishpeming Westwood’s Lauren Farley. (Photos by Burt Angeli.)

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