Murphy Closes Championship Career

October 31, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The hardest-working athlete Dan Young has coached stuck around long after practices ended, perfecting shots often by the light of nearby street lamps.

The player was motivated by the chance to win the school’s first girls championship, and an individual title too after falling just short of both the year before.

It sounds like a scene out of a high school basketball movie, and Young has coached that sport at the prep and collegiate levels for 20 years.

But this fall he coached girls golf for the first time, and from senior Kelsey Murphy saw a drive like he’d never seen from one of his athletes before.

Motivated by just-misses from the season before, Murphy willed Plymouth to its first MHSAA team championship in any girls sport and claimed the individual title as well Oct. 19-20 at Michigan State’s Forest Akers East.

“That means a lot, coming from him,” Murphy said. “Our team really made the push this year.

“My main goal for my season was to win the team championship. Winning the individual with this was just a little extra. … It was a nice extra.”

And an extra-nice comeback story.

Murphy gets a Second Half High 5 after making good on her hard work heading into this fall, and sticking it out when tough weather and tough putting threatened that individual opportunity again.

She shot a first-round 73 at the Final to lead by a stroke with one round left in her high school career. But Murphy started the second 18 with five bogeys – and it was hard to not consider the 2011 Final, when Murphy led with four holes to play before finishing third.

Meanwhile, her team led by seven strokes, a nice advantage but hardly comfortable.

“It was mainly putting, and I just went back to the basics. (I learned in 2011) to always make sure you finish the round; any stroke will matter,” Murphy said. “I didn’t used to finish out. I’d give up some strokes at the end. It’s just telling yourself to focus on the next shot. You have to hit every shot.”

Murphy fought back with two birdies during her final nine holes, and finished with a second-round 75 and a two-day 178 – good for the individual win by a stroke. And her Wildcats cut their collective score by three from the first day to win the team championship by 11.

Young told his players the night before the tournament’s start that they deserved to win because of the work they’d put into this season. And at the front of that effort was Murphy.

“I’ve never had somebody who works harder than this girl,” Young said. “We’d get to the range at 2:45 and leave at 6 o’clock, and she’d be there until 7 o’clock every single night. It would be dark, and she’d be using street lights to putt and chip.

“She was grinding it out, not leaving any stone unturned. And the thing about it is all the other girls felt they needed to stay too.”

Murphy averaged 36 strokes for nine-hole matches this fall and 74 for 18-hole events. Her second-most impressive win might have been Aug. 23 at the Highland Invitational at Heather Highlands Golf Club, where she shot a 69 to finish ahead of a strong field. Murphy also shot a 74 to win the Regional at Ypsilanti’s Pine View Golf Course by four strokes as her team won that title by 19.

Keep in mind that Murphy is a relative newcomer to the sport. She’s been playing for a little more than five years, picking up the clubs for the first time after a dislocated knee ended her swimming aspirations.

But with younger sister Sydney in tow – the sophomore shot a 173 at the Final – and their grandmother Emma showing them the ropes, Kelsey picked up her new sport quickly. She’s always been a long hitter and drives the ball 240 yards consistently. Her work on pitching has paid off over the last year, and next up is a focus on longer approaches.

The last 10 days have been a lot of fun for the Wildcats, who have continued to hang out together and were recognized during the football team’s playoff game Friday. Murphy will sign to continue her career at Eastern Michigan University and is among favorites to win the statewide Miss Golf award later this month.

That would be another "nice extra" touch to a finish she'll remember most because of how she ended it.

“I was able to keep my game and get it back on track. It’s the lasting impression, to show I can get my game back,” Murphy said. “I knew through other rounds I could do it. But it was just getting back mentally on track and doing it and being able to come through.”

PHOTO: Plymouth's Kelsey Murphy prepares to tee off during the second round of this month's MHSAA Division 1 Final at Forest Akers East. (Click to see more from

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