Lutheran North Ace, Cranbrook Kingswood Complete Title Climbs

By Scott DeCamp
Special for Second Half

October 17, 2021

EAST LANSING – Lauren Timpf came up a little short of her lofty goals at last year’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Girls Golf Final. The Macomb Lutheran North sophomore was not going to be denied this weekend at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers West.

Same went for the seasoned Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood team in its fourth-straight trip to the Finals.

Timpf wrapped up medalist honors, while Cranbrook Kingswood completed its team-championship mission on a chilly, windy Saturday.

After she fired an eye-popping 6-under 66 Friday, Timpf followed with a solid 1-over 73 Saturday in challenging conditions en route to a 14-shot victory over the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Cranbrook Kingswood collected its first Finals title since 2006 by shooting 694 for a six-stroke victory over runner-up Grosse Ile.

“I was hoping to go a little bit lower – that was my goal coming into today; really, to get it to double-digits under par was my goal,” said Timpf, who missed a playoff for medalist honors in last year’s Final by one shot when she bogeyed her final hole.

“It was tough conditions today, but I didn’t play my best. I let some shots get away, had a double out there. It was just a little bit tougher today.”

Whitehall’s Karli VanDuinen was runner-up at 153 (78-75), followed by Grosse Ile’s Lily Bargamian in third (154), Grand Rapids South Christian’s Ashley Thomasma fourth (160) and Freeland’s Averie Pumford fifth (162). 

Cranbrook Kingswood’s Natasha Samsonov (sixth, 163), Bloomfield Hills Marian’s Ashley Carroll and Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Ava Wisinski (tied for seventh, 165), Grand Rapids Christian’s Sara Muir (ninth, 167) and Ada Forest Hills Eastern’s Sophie Skoog (10th, 169) rounded out the top 10.

In the final team standings of the two-day tourney, South Christian placed third (708), while 2019 and 2020 champ Marian finished fourth (729). Grand Rapids Catholic Central took fifth (738).

Cranbrook Kingswood golf“For my seniors that played today, this was their fourth state (finals tournament). They played in it as freshmen. … For them, they weren’t nervous,” said Cranes coach John Minnich, whose last three teams finished fifth, eighth and fourth at the Division 3 Finals. Three of the five players in this year’s lineup were seniors who were plenty familiar with playing at the championship level.

Cranbrook Kingswood also had finished Division 3 runner-up from 2012-14.

In addition to Samsonov, seniors Ashley Cong and Katherine Li shot 175 and 186, respectively, to help Cranbrook Kingswood. Sophomores Sienna Ilitch and Mackenzie Behnke posted 163 and 189, in that order.

Nobody was going to give Timpf a run for her money, but for Cranbrook Kingswood, there was strength in numbers. A tough schedule throughout the season, competing against the likes of eventual Division 1 champ Northville, perennial power Marian and Division 2 fourth-place Farmington Hills Mercy, had the Cranes prepared to win Division 3 this time.

“It was one of those things where I told them, ‘You know, you guys could probably have a pretty special team. Stay together, keep working at it, keep playing,’ and they did,” Minnich said. “They put in the time, they put in the work and, you know, it was a great season.

“The program is kind of on an up-tick. (Cranbrook) girls want to play, they’re excited about playing golf,” Minnich said.

Timpf has been playing golf since a young age.

And she’s quite familiar with the Forest Akers courses. In July, Timpf won the 43rd Michigan Girls’ Junior State Amateur Championship at Forest Akers East.

In the summer of 2020, Timpf gave eventual Michigan Women’s Amateur champion Anna Kramer a run before falling to her in the quarterfinals, 1-up, at Forest Akers West.

“(Last year’s Finals finish) did drive me because I knew that I could have won that tournament. I mean, I bogeyed the last hole to miss the playoff,” Timpf said. “And since we couldn’t take flagsticks out (last year), two my 3-footers hit the (stick) and bounced out.”

Everything about Timpf’s game was working Friday, and putts were dropping.

It was more of a challenge Saturday.

“I mean, yesterday I felt like I played great – everything was working together, putts were dropping,” Timpf said. “Today, not as many, but I did get away with a few. I missed a few 3-footers.”

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PHOTOS Macomb Lutheran North’s Lauren Timpf follows a shot during Friday’s first round. (Middle) Cranbrook’s Natasha Samsonov tees off during first-day play. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

After Back-to-Back Top-10 Finals Finishes, Rockford Aims To Join Title Contenders

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

September 22, 2022

ROCKFORD – The Rockford girls golf team witnessed first-hand at last year’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final the type of scores it would take to compete for top honors in the state. 

West MichiganThe Rams finished a laudable eighth at last year’s championship tournament, but their two-day total of 697 (338-359) put them well behind champion Northville, which posted team scores of 307 and 308 to claim a fourth-straight Finals title by 12 strokes.

Rockford entered this season with aspirations to close the gap, and it has done just that with a talented quartet of experienced golfers.

“Our top four are better than we've had in the past,” Rams girls golf coach Scott Kruisenga said. “Maybe we’re not quite as deep, but the potential for all four of these girls to be in the 70s is pretty exciting.

“We’ve been seeing those scores by Northville, and Rochester Adams and Saline, and that's some darn good golf.

“The girls last year saw some of the scores that needed to take place in order to have a shot at a state championship, and they really took it serious over the summer. They played a lot of tournament golf, and they want it and they believe they can do it.”

The extra preparation and enhanced desire has been evident with low scores and first-place finishes.

The Rams have rolled through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red thus far with the league tournament looming next week.

A new school record was established as well when Rockford won the Kent County Classic with an impressive 306. 

“We’ve played well, and it’s been fun getting to know everyone the last three years,” said junior Jessica Jolly, the team’s No. 1 golfer.

Aubrey Wilson putts off the rough during the Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. “Everyone is capable of shooting low, so when we can do our best on the same day it’s fun, and we’ve broken the school record multiple times in the past few years.”

Jolly is joined in the top four by seniors Mackenzie Davidson and Bridget Parlmer and junior Aubrey Wilson.

In addition to the Kent Country Classic, Rockford also won the O-K Red Midseason Tournament, the Sydney Carfine Memorial Tournament and the Greenville Invitational.

The Rams took second behind state powerhouse Brighton at the 36-hole Lober Classic at Crystal Mountain to open the season.

“They have really been playing up to their ability and been playing lights out,” Kruisenga said. “They’ve put a lot of hard work in, and I’ve had all four since they were freshmen so it’s been fun to see how they’ve been improving year by year.

“That has been the most exciting thing, seeing the improvement and dedication they are putting into get better.”

While the team had high expectations entering the season, Kruisenga said they have already exceeded his.

“I was thinking even if we stay the same as last year we would be a good team,” he said, “but everyone is playing better.” 

Jolly has been the catalyst and broke her own school record earlier this season with a superb 67 at Quail Ridge Golf Course.

She tied for ninth at the LPD1 Final as a freshman, when Rockford finished fifth as a team, and just missed the individual top 10 last season.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played, and I’ve definitely seen my average drop to the lowest it’s been since I’ve been in high school.” Jolly said. “Most of my rounds have been under par, and it’s been fun to make some birdies and get a chance at shooting pretty low.”

After struggling on the second day of last year’s Final, Kruisenga said the success his team had at the 36-hole event earlier this season should bode well for the future. 

“We did that intentionally to try and get used to that back-to-back,” he said. “The girls fared really well. We lost by three or four strokes to Brighton, and we were tied going into the second day. They kept a good mental game and limited their mistakes.”

The Rams are anxious for the postseason, but refuse to take anything for granted. They want to finish the conference season strong before setting their sights on a Finals berth.

“Our first goal would be to win the postseason tournament, and then we hope to do well at Regionals and qualify for state,” Jolly said. “If we do, then we’re looking to perform well there and give ourselves a chance.”

Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at dream100@comcast.net with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Rockford’s Jessica Jolly powers through a drive during last season’s LPD1 Final. (Middle) Aubrey Wilson putts off the rough during the Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)