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.)

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