Lumen Christi Builds a Champion, Greenhills Sophomore Repeats

By Steve Vedder
Special for

October 15, 2022

ALLENDALE — There's no doubt that after 50 years of coaching, David Swartout can spin an interesting golf story or two. But his latest yarn might rank as one of the strangest.

Four years ago Swartout's Jackson Lumen Christi girls golf team was recruiting anyone who seemed to have an interest in the sport. What he never would have guessed was that diverse mix of multi-sport athletes would eventually earn a state championship.

But that's exactly the case after Lumen Christi shot a 688 to win Saturday's MHSAA Division 4 Finals at a blustery The Meadows at Grand Valley State.

Four years ago the program's only two returning letter winners began recruiting anyone who showed a interest in picking up a club. They wound up finding seven takers and the resulting nine seniors capped what Swartout can only describe as a "phenomenal." 

2022 Division 4 Team Champions, Jackson Lumen ChristiThe Titans wound up winning six of nine tournaments this season (finishing second in the other three), won their conference and last week's regional by 13 strokes. Lumen Christi won the MHSAA Finals by 23 strokes over runner-up Adrian Lenawee Christian.

Swartout can only marvel at how the program went from scrounging for players to his 17th state title in coaching both girls and boys.

"To go from there to a state title is phenomenal," said Swartout, who has coached two girls teams to titles. "The last three years we've improved by 100 shots. That's unheard of. I've never ever seen anything like that in all the teams I've had."

How did the program accomplish it? Swartout cites as example senior Ashley Hilderley, who hurt her knee playing volleyball on Wednesday and was told by doctors the only way she could participate in the state meet was if she didn't have to walk the course.

"So she limped around for two days," Swartout said of Hilderley, who finished in a tie for ninth with a 167.

Anna McClure led Lumen Christi with a 163 which put her in the sixth spot overall. 

Ann Arbor Greenhills' Mia Melendez won the meet with a 149. Logan Bentley of Columbia Central was second with a 150, Grace Slocum of Traverse City St. Francis was third with a 151 while Montague had the next two placers in Mackenzie Goudreau (159) and Natalie Kellogg (162).

Hilderley said the Titans, who were the top-ranked team going into the meet, didn't let lofty expectations get in the way of performance.

"We don't think of ourselves as individuals. We're very much a team," she said. "If anyone ever has a bad day, someone will step up. We trust each other."

Hilderley said the team never considered giving in to pressure.

"I'd rather have people say we're good rather than say you aren't any good," she said.

Swartout won't go out on a limb and call this the best team he's ever coached. But there is one trait he points to in explaining the remarkable success. He said he'll see several of the kids at the driving range on his way home after practice.

"It's hard to do that after having so many teams, but this is one of my most special. I'll say that," he said. "To put in the kind of effort they put in makes them special. They work so hard, it's phenomenal."

Melendez won last year's state meet as a freshman. She said there's little doubt in the old adage that it's always harder to win the second time.

"It was. It's hard to live up to (last year's) title and it was a much different course this year," she said. "All around, I had to play better,"

Melendez finishes off an unbeaten season, including a regional title and the top spot going into Saturday.

"There was definitely a lot of pressure, but I committed myself to staying calm and just fighting hard," she said.

Click for full results

PHOTOS (Top) Sophomore Mia Melendez tees off at the 2022 MHSAA Division 4 Girls Golf Finals. (Middle) Jackson Lumen Christi wins the 2022 Division 4 team title. (Photos by Greg Chrapek.)

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