Kennedy Repeat Keys Marian Title Sweep
October 19, 2019
By Steve Vedder
Special for Second Half
ALLENDALE – Shannon Kennedy had no trouble sleeping the night before her drive for a second MHSAA Finals title in three years.
The Bloomfield Hills Marian junior held a two-shot lead after the first round of the Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship at The Meadows. But instead of fretting over the many pitfalls which cause golfers to stumble, Kennedy promptly sealed her title Saturday with an even-par round of 73, including a clutch birdie on No. 18.
"I slept pretty well," said Kennedy after finishing with a two-day total of 143, three shots better than Flint Powers Catholic two-time all-stater Jolie Brochu. "You just have to go out and play your game. I felt like I was going to win."
Kennedy's individual championship sparked Marian to the team title, its first. The Mustangs finished with a 689, three shots better than reigning champ Powers. Marian shot a 335 the first day to lead the Chargers at that point by 11 shots.
Kennedy also had won the Division 2 championship as a freshman and finished third a year ago. She said she was confident the team would be in the hunt for a championship with a chance at upsetting a Powers team which lost only one golfer from 2018. After Marian captured the Catholic League championship late in the season, Kennedy said a whisper about winning a state crown grew into a real opportunity.
"We always knew it was a small possibility. We didn't talk too much about it until we got here and we thought, 'Hey, we can do this thing,’" she said.
Marian co-coach Cathie Fritz agreed with Kennedy that winning this weekend was a possibility. Fritz and co-coach Leon Braisted teamed up to win five Finals titles with five second-place finishes at Birmingham Seaholm until moving to Marian four years ago.
"We've got girls who work hard," Fritz said. "Marlo Hudson is our only senior, Shannon has worked hard the last 12 months and we've got multiple juniors who we knew would keep us in the hunt."
Marian's three juniors – Lauren Sass, Laura Emerson and Sarah Kuredjian – all broke 100 on Saturday. Hudson had rounds of 79 and 91.
Detroit Country Day finished third with a 711, Marshall was fourth at 712 and Big Rapids rounded out the top five with a 731. Powers entered the tournament ranked No. 1, while Marian was second and Big Rapids – which has four top-10 finishes since 2016 – was No. 3.
Other top individuals this weekend included Marshall's Karlee Malone, who was third with a 153. Madeline Blum of Marysville was fourth with a 160, and three golfers tied for fifth at 163: Haslett's Sydney Dausman, Grand Rapids Christian's Ryann Breslin and Big Rapids' Hope Thebo.
Braisted said Kennedy's individual title was no surprise to him.
"It's not about her; she's very humble," he said. "She's that precise. It's important to her to win, but she really wanted the team to win."
Powers coach Jim Snow said there is often a small gap between high expectations and actually winning a championship.
"Golf is a funny game. You don't always win just because you're favored," he said. "There can be weird bounces or a putt won't fall. To win a championship, things have to fall into place. That's just the nature of the business. You have to be precise and if you're not, you don't win.
"We played hard and just lost to a good team."
PHOTOS: (Top) Marian’s Shannon Kennedy follows through on an approach during Friday’s first round of the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final. (Middle) Powers’ Jolie Brochu follows one of her drives. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.
Sluss 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.
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.”
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.)