New Division, Same Mustangs Success

October 21, 2017

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – Macomb Lutheran North girls golf coach Lori Gill admitted the news came as a surprise.

Once the season commenced, Gill found out from Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood coach Mark Moyer that Lutheran North would be competing in Division 3 this year.

It was a significant revelation, given Lutheran North won the state title in Lower Peninsula Division 4 last season.  

“I got blindsided with it,” Gill said. “I had my top three players from last year, and they were strong. I thought we might be able to squeak into the top three.”

Lutheran North did better than that, squeaking into the “top one” by winning the Division 3 title Saturday at Michigan State’s Forest Akers West.

The Mustangs shot a two-day total of 697, three shots better than the 700 produced by runner-up Grand Rapids South Christian.

Three-time reigning champion Spring Lake was third with a 709, Cranbrook was fourth at 718 and Flint Powers Catholic rounded out the top five with a final score of 749.

Lutheran North entered the day one shot ahead of South Christian and three ahead of Cranbrook after Friday’s first round, but it became a battle between Lutheran North and South Christian as the final day progressed.

Lutheran North ended up shooting a 341 on Saturday thanks in large part to senior Serena Nguyen, who ended her high school career finishing as the runner-up individually with a two-day score of 152 (78-74).

Junior Kaity Rittner added a 163 (84-79) and senior Grace Farquhar a 163 (90-83) to flank Nguyen for Lutheran North.

“I told the girls that they had to play their very, very best and couldn’t falter today, and they didn’t,” Gill said. “Yesterday, I think the nerves spoke to them a lot.”

So, now that Lutheran North moved up and won it all in Division 3, will the Mustangs go up to Division 2 next year?

“No,” Gill said with a laugh. “I think we are happy here or below.”

South Christian was led by junior Natalie Samdal, who had a two-day total of 158 (80-78).

“We thought we had a shot at top three, so we definitely reached our goal,” Grand Rapids South Christian coach Ben Cook said. “We are very excited. A 343 (on Saturday) is a very good score for us.”

Also producing a good score once again was Pontiac Notre Dame Prep junior Danielle Staskowski.

After winning the individual Division 3 title in a playoff last year as a sophomore, Staskowski successfully repeated by playing brilliant golf on a difficult Forest Akers West course.

Staskowski shot identical even-par scores of 72 both Friday and Saturday to finish with a total of 144, a healthy eight shots ahead of Nguyen.

“My putter was really strong,” Staskowski said. “I made a lot of putts overall this weekend.

“I was just really focusing on hitting fairways and the center of greens, and I know my putter would really help me out.”

Even better for Notre Dame Prep is that Staskowski has one more year left and a chance to become the fourth Lower Peninsula player to win three individual Finals championships.

“The girl I beat last year in the playoff (Spring Lake’s Anna Kramer), she had won states the year before,” Staskowski said. “It was in my mind that you still have to play hard because anyone can come up.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Macomb Lutheran North stands with an MHSAA championship trophy for the second season in a row. (Middle) Grand Rapids South Christian finished runner-up Saturday. (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