Mercy Takes 3rd Team Title, Byron Center Wins 1st Individual Championship

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

October 15, 2022

EAST LANSING -- Finally, Farmington Hills Mercy girls golf coach Vicky Kowalski can talk a little less about the history of her program. 

It’s certainly a rich history since Mercy won two state championships and finished as a Finals runner-up between 1999 and 2002, but in her 45th year of coaching this fall, it was getting a little harder to resonate with her current group that wasn’t even born then.

“The game has changed so much now,” Kowalski said. “If you go back and look at the scores that were shot back then when we won, we had to go a lot lower than that these two days to get the victory.”

But Mercy did just that, and now the current group has its own history to bask in. 

2022 Div 2 Champ - Farmington Hills MercyFor the first time since 2001, Mercy is a Finals champion in girls golf, winning the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 title at Forest Akers West with a two-day score of 684.

“To finally get that third state title is just a great feeling,” Kowalski said. 

The Marlins took a 10-stroke lead with a first-round total of 343, and followed that by going two shots lower for a second-day score of 341. 

Leading the way for Mercy was sophomore Maeve Casey, who finished fourth with a two-day score of 159 (79-80). 

Senior Chloe Vig was ninth at 166, sophomore Lila Polakowski was 16th with a 178, while junior Abby Slankster was 20th at 181 for a Mercy team that returned its entire lineup from a squad that finished fourth in 2021.

Still, Kowalski knew it would be a task to outlast South Lyon, which was seeking its second title in two years. 

“We spent all year chasing South Lyon,” she said. “We beat them once in one tournament. I guess these two days were the days to do it again.”

South Lyon did manage to finish runner-up with a final score of 711 thanks in large part to senior Gabby Tapp, who was second individually with a 153. 

“We just didn’t play as well as we could’ve, and Mercy played well,” South Lyon head coach Dan Skatzka said. “It’s just one of those things. It’s the way golf is.”

Individually, Byron Center junior Macie Elzinga made history by becoming the first girl in her school's history to win a golf Finals title.

Elzinga entered Saturday with a one-shot lead over Tapp after a first-day round of 72, and followed that up with a 76 on a chilly and windy day to finish at 148, five shots ahead of Tapp, who won the championship in 2021 and 2019.

“It’s just kind of a surreal feeling,” Elzinga said. “I’m just very honored to be able to represent my school.”

Elzinga was familiar with the course given she’s played it plenty of times over the summer and during high school season, so it was a matter of hanging in mentally.

“It was a battle,” Elzinga said. “The wind was really tough. There were times where you thought it was a one-club wind, and it was a three-club wind. It was really hard to judge. Given the conditions, it was a lot harder to get the ball close on the green. Lag putting was huge. I was really thankful to have lag-putted really good. I didn’t have many three putts on the card.”

Haslett senior Sydney Dausman finished in third behind Elzinga and Tapp with a score of 157. 

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PHOTOS (Top) Forest Akers West at MSU hosted the MHSAA L.P. Division 2 Girls Golf Finals. (Middle) Team champion Farmington Hills Mercy. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Potent Pair Lead Cedarville/DeTour Girls to Repeat; Ontonagon Ace Paces Field

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 1, 2023

HYDE – Cedarville and DeTour have been golfing together for just two years as a co-op – and they already have two Upper Peninsula Girls Golf Finals titles.

The Islanders repeated in Division 3 with a score of 420 on Thursday at Highland Golf Club near Escanaba. That was eight strokes better than runner-up Big Bay de Noc and 16 fewer than third-place Ontonagon.

“It’s nice,” Islanders coach Jeff Autore said. “These girls worked hard. They knew they had a chance to be defending champions. We knew we had a pretty good chance coming in. This was our goal. The girls knew it, they were determined. This is why we practice in the rain and in the snow and in the cold.

Ontonagon’s Emmy Bobula tees off during her championship round.“We expected this and we worked hard for this, and they deserve it.”

For Hayley Kohlmann, who shot a 94, and Taylor Williams, who carded a 107, it was their third-straight team title. Cedarville also won as a standalone team in 2021. 

“They’ve had a pretty good run,” Autore said. “And then we co-opped with DeTour, and Lily Plowman has been our best player all year long. She finished in the top five last year.”

Plowman also shot a 94 on Thursday. She and Kohlmann were two of just three golfers in the field to shoot under 100.

The other was medalist Emmy Bobula of Ontonagon; she shot a 90. All three were over 100 at last year’s Final, held at the same course.

Bobula shot a 113 last year.

“So I really improved this season a lot,” she said. “It was crazy, that was my PR (personal record), so yeah, pretty bonkers.”

It was definitely a good time for such a good performance. She likes playing in tournaments and doesn’t get nervous for them. There’s no bigger tournament than this one for U.P. high school golfers.

Mackinac Island’s Isabella Nitzschke hits out of a tough spot beside a tree. “It’s crazy, it’s kind of surreal,” Bobula said. “I shed a few tears because it’s my senior season. It feels pretty good.”

Her coach Jim Jessup said Bobula wanted to have a big year – and she did.

“She’s a senior, she had drive, she wanted to do things this year and she did them,” Jessup said.

It all started for her Thursday off the tee.

“Probably my drives really saved me,” she said. “I had good drives today, which is probably the best thing and chipping, I did pretty well in chipping today actually.”

Ontonagon’s Madyson Pantti shot a 102 and Camryn Pederson of Big Bay de Noc a 105.

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PHOTOS (Top) Cedarville/DeTour’s Lily Plowman hits out of the sand during Thursday’s UPD3 Final. (Middle) Ontonagon’s Emmy Bobula tees off during her championship round. (Below) Mackinac Island’s Isabella Nitzschke hits out of a tough spot beside a tree. (Photos by Jason Juno.)