Northville Title Streak Grows, Boczar Sisters Close in Dominating Fashion

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

October 16, 2021

ALLENDALE -- The Northville girls golf team suffered a rare loss to Plymouth at last week’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Regional.

But it provided the Mustangs with ample motivation to turn the tables on their closest challenger and extend a historic run.

Northville won its fourth straight MHSAA Finals on Saturday by completing a two-day total of 615 strokes at Grand Valley State’s The Meadows.

Plymouth placed runner-up, 12 strokes back, while Okemos (650) took third. 

Plymouth senior Bridget Boczar captured the individual medalist honor after a final-round 3-under-par 69 gave her a one-stroke win over her twin sister, Grace Boczar.

“I think, if anything, losing Regionals to Plymouth really motivated us to play better at states and helped us prepare more versus winning Regionals and coming into the first (seed),” Northville senior Haesol Park said. “I wasn’t part of the first (Finals championship), but it’s really been an amazing experience. It’s just amazing to be part of a team and not just individually winning. Just the whole team contributing to win one big award. It’s unreal.” 

Another senior standout, Megha Vallabhaneni, led the Mustangs with a pair of stellar rounds.

She carded a 75 on Friday, and added a final-round 1-under-par 71 to place third overall.

“It’s obviously an awesome feeling, but there was a lot of pressure going into it with already winning three (in a row),” Vallabhaneni said. “Losing to Plymouth did affect us, but we knew we were going to do well and we played one stroke at a time and one hole at a time.”

Plymouth golfAlso contributing for Northville were junior Samantha Coleman (154), senior Meghana Lanka (162) and junior Avi Gill.

The Mustangs became the eighth school in MHSAA history, and second in the Lower Peninsula, to win four straight Finals, and also the first to do so in Division 1.

“Obviously to be in that elite company is amazing, and it's not something we talk about a lot, but we also understand that there are those opportunities in front of us to take advantage of,” Northville coach Chris Cronin said. “Winning state titles and adding our name to the record books with winning four in a row is an incredible feeling, and it has been an incredible journey for me and for this team.”

Despite his team being the favorite entering the Finals based on past successes and the return of four from last year’s squad, Cronin cautioned against looking too far ahead.

“I think the great challenge all year has been living up to those expectations that everybody thinks you are a shoe-in for the state title, but we knew both Plymouth and Okemos were going to be outstanding teams,” Cronin said. “Just keeping our head about us. We didn’t win Regionals, and maybe that made us play a little loose on day one and we were a little more comfortable. We had enough of a lead yesterday that we didn’t have to build on it too much today to take the victory.”

A total of 13 golfers were within four strokes of the lead entering Saturday, but Bridget Boczar emerged from of the pack with the best round of the Finals after opening with a 74.

“It was really exciting, and I didn’t really focus on winning this weekend,” she said. “I just focused on striking the ball well, putting a good stroke on my putts and then I knew eventually I would be at the top of the leaderboard somewhere.

“Just to finally make a few birdies on the back nine felt really good, and to end up on top, it’s great to finally get the job done.”

Grace Boczar was tied for the first-round lead with an even-par 72, and again shot 72 on Saturday.

“I didn’t care where I finished this weekend as long as I played well, and I did that,” Grace Boczar said. “I played some of the best golf I have all season, and so I’m very proud of how I played. I just focused on my game and what I could control and did that well.” 

Both sisters are headed next to Oakland University to play golf.

Plymouth also placed Finals runner-up in 2018.

“This is one of the best teams Plymouth golf has ever had, and we’ve come in second twice in the last four years,” Bridget Boczar said. “It’s a little disappointing not to win, but Northville is so good and they are such great competitors. They really deserved it.” 

The field also included the past two Division 1 individual champions. Okemos senior Allison Cui, who won the 2019 Division 1 Final and then claimed the Division 2 championship in 2020, tied for seventh this weekend. Grand Blanc junior Kate Brody, last season’s Division 1 champion, tied for fourth this time.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Northville's Samantha Coleman hits out of the sand during Saturday's second round at The Meadows. (Middle) Plymouth's Bridget Boczar shows her team's score card, which notes her individual championship score. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.) 

After Back-to-Back Top-10 Finals Finishes, Rockford Aims To Join Title Contenders

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

September 22, 2022

ROCKFORD – The Rockford girls golf team witnessed first-hand at last year’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final the type of scores it would take to compete for top honors in the state. 

West MichiganThe Rams finished a laudable eighth at last year’s championship tournament, but their two-day total of 697 (338-359) put them well behind champion Northville, which posted team scores of 307 and 308 to claim a fourth-straight Finals title by 12 strokes.

Rockford entered this season with aspirations to close the gap, and it has done just that with a talented quartet of experienced golfers.

“Our top four are better than we've had in the past,” Rams girls golf coach Scott Kruisenga said. “Maybe we’re not quite as deep, but the potential for all four of these girls to be in the 70s is pretty exciting.

“We’ve been seeing those scores by Northville, and Rochester Adams and Saline, and that's some darn good golf.

“The girls last year saw some of the scores that needed to take place in order to have a shot at a state championship, and they really took it serious over the summer. They played a lot of tournament golf, and they want it and they believe they can do it.”

The extra preparation and enhanced desire has been evident with low scores and first-place finishes.

The Rams have rolled through the Ottawa-Kent Conference Red thus far with the league tournament looming next week.

A new school record was established as well when Rockford won the Kent County Classic with an impressive 306. 

“We’ve played well, and it’s been fun getting to know everyone the last three years,” said junior Jessica Jolly, the team’s No. 1 golfer.

Aubrey Wilson putts off the rough during the Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. “Everyone is capable of shooting low, so when we can do our best on the same day it’s fun, and we’ve broken the school record multiple times in the past few years.”

Jolly is joined in the top four by seniors Mackenzie Davidson and Bridget Parlmer and junior Aubrey Wilson.

In addition to the Kent Country Classic, Rockford also won the O-K Red Midseason Tournament, the Sydney Carfine Memorial Tournament and the Greenville Invitational.

The Rams took second behind state powerhouse Brighton at the 36-hole Lober Classic at Crystal Mountain to open the season.

“They have really been playing up to their ability and been playing lights out,” Kruisenga said. “They’ve put a lot of hard work in, and I’ve had all four since they were freshmen so it’s been fun to see how they’ve been improving year by year.

“That has been the most exciting thing, seeing the improvement and dedication they are putting into get better.”

While the team had high expectations entering the season, Kruisenga said they have already exceeded his.

“I was thinking even if we stay the same as last year we would be a good team,” he said, “but everyone is playing better.” 

Jolly has been the catalyst and broke her own school record earlier this season with a superb 67 at Quail Ridge Golf Course.

She tied for ninth at the LPD1 Final as a freshman, when Rockford finished fifth as a team, and just missed the individual top 10 last season.

“I’m pretty happy with how I’ve played, and I’ve definitely seen my average drop to the lowest it’s been since I’ve been in high school.” Jolly said. “Most of my rounds have been under par, and it’s been fun to make some birdies and get a chance at shooting pretty low.”

After struggling on the second day of last year’s Final, Kruisenga said the success his team had at the 36-hole event earlier this season should bode well for the future. 

“We did that intentionally to try and get used to that back-to-back,” he said. “The girls fared really well. We lost by three or four strokes to Brighton, and we were tied going into the second day. They kept a good mental game and limited their mistakes.”

The Rams are anxious for the postseason, but refuse to take anything for granted. They want to finish the conference season strong before setting their sights on a Finals berth.

“Our first goal would be to win the postseason tournament, and then we hope to do well at Regionals and qualify for state,” Jolly said. “If we do, then we’re looking to perform well there and give ourselves a chance.”

Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at dream100@comcast.net with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Rockford’s Jessica Jolly powers through a drive during last season’s LPD1 Final. (Middle) Aubrey Wilson putts off the rough during the Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)