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.
For 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.
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.)
Join Elizabeth Coon as State Champs! takes a look at all of the action from the 2023 Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals.