NorthPointe Pulls Away for 1st Girls Golf Title
October 19, 2019
By Tim Robinson
Special for Second Half
BATTLE CREEK — For Sabrina Langerak, a reversion to form made all the difference for Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Girls Golf Final on Saturday at Bedford Valley Golf Club.
Langerak, a junior, shot 88 in Friday’s first round after averaging 77 strokes during the season.
On Saturday, her 77 lifted the Mustangs to their first-ever Finals championship. After ending Friday three strokes behind two-time reigning champion Harbor Springs, NorthPointe won the title Saturday by five strokes.
“(Friday), I was swinging too fast and missed a lot of putts,” Langerak said. “Today, I took my time a lot more and thought about my putts more.”
The championship was a family effort for the Langeraks. Brian Langerak is the coach, and his two daughters, Sabrina and senior Hannah, played key roles this season,
“We take a lot of golf home with us,” Brian said, smiling.
NorthPointe and Harbor Springs were neck-and-neck throughout the day.
“We knew (Friday) it was a two-horse race, because we had a 20(plus)-stroke lead on the field,” Brian Langerak said referring to his team and Harbor Springs. “We got out to a great start, but it came down to the end. It was almost like match play out there. We knew we were in the running, but we also knew it was very close, down to the last couple of holes.”
For the Rams, it marked the end of play for a stellar senior class that included Evie Garver, Mackenzie Gillette and Maggie Bailey.
“(They) were runners-up in the state twice and won two state championships,” Harbor Springs coach Pete Kelbel said. “So, we’ll go home happy.”
The Rams also went home with medalist honors, with Jacque O’Neill edging Wixom St. Catherine’s Sara Haupt in a one-hole playoff after both finished at 164. Sabrina Langerak just missed out, carding a 165.
Both got onto the green in three on the first playoff hole, the 419-yard par-4 No. 16, but Haupt missed with her first putt and O’Neill then prepared for her putt.
“I was a little nervous, but I was trying not to think about it too much,” O’Neill said.
She said she was prepared for No. 16, which was the first of what would have been three playoff holes had the tie remained.
“I was just trying to play it like I had the last few days, because I’ve played that hole pretty well throughout,” she said. “I just tried to hit my spots.”
A junior, O’Neill also was a major part of Harbor Springs’ team success the last three seasons.
“We’re a little disappointed, but we’re happy for Northpointe Christian,” she said. “We’re looking forward to next year.”
Haupt, a junior, was happy with her weekend.
“I wasn’t expecting to do as well as I did,” she said. “I had low expectations. I had never gone to states before. I just wanted to try my best and have fun.”
Afterward, the NorthPointe Christian players and parents posed for a team picture, with Hannah Langerak keeping the trophy firmly in her grip.
“It’s amazing,” the senior said, “because I got to practice with my dad and sister all the time and play with them all summer.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian celebrates its first MHSAA Finals championship in girls golf Saturday. (Middle) Harbor Springs’ Jacque O’Neill putts during a playoff hole; she won the hole and the individual championship. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
3-Sport Standout Sluss Gives Lenawee Christian All-State Boost for Every Season
By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com
January 11, 2023
ADRIAN – Avery Sluss picked up a golf club for the first time her freshmen year at Adrian Lenawee Christian. Now she’s an all-state golfer.
Sluss started playing basketball because it was a way for her and her older brother, Gavin, to connect. She’s now the leading scorer on the Cougars basketball team a year after receiving all-state recognition.
Everything she touches seems to turn to gold. She will return to the soccer field in the spring already with her college plans in place. She signed recently to play goalkeeper at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“I’ve learned so much from sports,” Avery said. “It teaches me a lot about life.”
Her coaches call her a self-motivated athlete, quiet leader and someone dedicated to her faith, her teammates, and academics. She is a 4.0 student and has played four years of varsity golf, basketball, and soccer. She’s earned all-state recognition in all three sports.
“She is very self-motivated,” said first-year Lenawee Christian girls basketball coach Emilie Beach. “She doesn’t miss workouts or practices. She pushes herself hard. She forces others to rise (around her).”
Sluss is in her fourth season on the Lenawee Christian varsity basketball team. This year her role changed from mostly a defensive specialist to scorer.
Beach said Avery hasn’t changed her positive attitude with the changes in her role on the team. She has a high basketball IQ, Beach said, which helps her on the court.
“It can be tough and frustrating, but she comes in with a great attitude each day and leads her teammates,” Beach said. “She is a quiet leader who leads by example. She is hardest on herself, and that’s where a lot of her motivation comes from.”
The Cougars have had great success on the basketball floor the last several years, and Sluss has been part of it. She’s played alongside all-staters and played at the Breslin Center. She started and played 20 minutes in last year’s Semifinal loss to Plymouth Christian Academy.
This season she’s averaging 14.5 points a game, with 16 3-pointers, and has scored at least 17 points four times.
“It’s very different, but I like the role I’m in now,” she said. “Now, it’s like you have to score. I’ve accepted it. I’m just trying my best to fulfill that role for my teammates.”
Sluss sat out the fall travel soccer season while she was recovering from a slight back injury. But she was able to hit the golf course. She shot a two-day total of 186 at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final, helping the Cougars finish second as a team. A year earlier Sluss shot an 89 and 87 and helped the Cougars finish fourth overall.
Not bad for someone who didn’t pick up a golf club until just a few years ago.
“Golf was new to me my freshman year,” she said. “Some of my friends said I should try it, so I did. I went to the range maybe one or two times before I started to play. I’ve loved it.”
As far as sports goes, soccer was her first love. She started playing at the age of 4 when a neighborhood dad gathered a few girls together and formed a team.
“We started playing in the back yard,” she said. “I’ve been playing soccer ever since. My first travel team was when I was 7.”
Sluss first started thinking about playing college soccer when she was in kindergarten.
“I’ve always wanted to play soccer in college,” she said. “I’ve dreamed about that. I’ve spent so much time on the sport that it would be silly not to. I want it to pay off with college.”
She used to play multiple positions but turned to goalkeeper at the age of 12.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “There are a lot of little things. The mental part of being a goalkeeper is important.”
After being named to the coaches association all-state third team last year, Sluss is primed for a big season this spring, especially with her college choice behind her.
“It is a strong Christian college, which was important to me,” she said. “It’s a lot like Lenawee Christian. Everyone on the soccer team was great when I met them, and the girls are so nice.”
Sluss has become adept at mixing sports with academics and life.
“Balance is a big issue,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, especially doing two at a time.
“My whole family, my parents (David and Kristen), they always push me to be the best I can be. I owe them a lot. Even my little sister (Addie) pushes me to do my best.”
Avery’s family moved from Toledo to the Adrian area several years ago, and the two perfectly complement to each other.
“Lenawee Christian has been a great fit for me,” she said. “All of the people are awesome, and I have grown in my faith here.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Avery Sluss gathers up the ball while playing keeper for Lenawee Christian’s soccer team. (Middle) Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center. (Below) Sluss plants a chip on the green. (Photos courtesy of the Lenawee Christian athletic department.)