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.” 

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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.)

Manistique Celebrates 2nd-Straight Finals Medalist, 1st Team Title Since 2015

By Jason Juno
Special for Second Half

May 31, 2023

NORWAY – After finishing runner-up to her teammate by one stroke last year, it was Nora Cunningham’s turn to be an Upper Peninsula Finals champion.

But more important to her was the fact that she and Macy Green, last year’s UP Division 2 medalist, led Manistique to a team championship Wednesday at Oak Crest.

“It feels really good,” Cunningham said of her individual achievement. “Above all, though, I think the team win definitely feels the best. Last year we ended up good individually, but the team win was our ultimate goal, so it was nice to get that this year.”

Manistique finished with a score of 455 for its first UP Finals title since 2015, and after the Emeralds finished fifth last spring. Bark River-Harris was runner-up with a 501.

Bark River-Harris’ Ella Boney hits out of the sand during her UPD2 Final round. Cunningham – who tied for second individually in 2022 – shot a 101 this time to finish three strokes ahead of Bark River-Harris’ Ava McDonough. Green and Manistique teammate Maddy Maline both carded 107s.

Oak Crest played tougher than it looked, Cunningham said. There’s a lot of trees, and she lost balls in the rough. She had a couple of rough holes, carding an 8 and a 9, but kept them to a minimum.

“I think I had really consistent drives, and then I just tried to take it hole by hole and not get too frustrated,” she said. “I had some rough holes, but I just bounced back from them.”

Her game is even better than it was last year. 

“Nora has added an extreme amount of distance off the tee,” Manistique coach Tim Noble said. “She’s really hitting drives past most everyone else. And it’s allowed her short game to flourish because she doesn't have to hit those mid irons like she used to.”

It had to be a happy ride back to Manistique after a hot day on the golf course. The boys team also won the UPD2 title, and the Emeralds’ Ryan McEvers was medalist.

Pretty much all the hardware went to Manistique.

Macy Green tees off for the Emeralds.“It is excellent that we both have the U.P. title, really good for the town of Manistique,” Noble said. “One of our better sports; we usually do pretty well in golf.”

He said he knew a team sweep was possible, but he had more confidence in the girls thanks to Cunningham and Green, who had great days both last year and this year.

“It’s nice to see Nora and Macy really have some success,” Noble said. “Macy picked it up as a sophomore, she learned to golf (after being a really good softball player). Nora’s going for college golf. It’s nice to see her go out on top.”

Cunningham signed to golf at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio.

Bark River-Harris’ Ella Boney and West Iron County’s Kya Dallavalle both finished with 115s to round out the top five.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Manistique’s Nora Cunningham tees off during her round Wednesday at Oak Crest. (Middle) Bark River-Harris’ Ella Boney hits out of the sand during her UPD2 Final round. (Below) Macy Green tees off for the Emeralds. (Photos by Jason Juno.)