Northville, West's Dy Cap Remarkable Runs

October 20, 2018

By Matt Schoch
Special for Second Half

BATTLE CREEK – Mother Nature kept extending the illustrious high school golf career of Traverse City West’s Anika Dy on Saturday.

But all good things must come to an end.

More than eight hours after teeing up at Bedford Valley Golf Course, Dy sank the final putt of her even-par 72 round to earn her third straight MHSAA Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals Division 1 title by six strokes.

It came on a blustery and rainy fall Michigan day that tested the resolve of golfers across the state and caused more than two hours of delays in Battle Creek.

“You can’t complain about it or whine about it. You just take it for what it is and be positive,” Dy said. “It was hard, not going to lie. It was a mental grind more than anything.

“Yeah, it was rainy, cold, windy, snowy, whatever, but It’s up (in your head) where it’s the hardest.”

Dy finished at 4-under 140 for the two-day event, which was weather delayed twice Saturday.

Northville dominated the team competition, closing an undefeated season by topping Kensington Lakes Activities Association rival Plymouth by 31 strokes.

Northville shot 312 on Saturday, combining with a 318 from Friday for 630.

In the week leading up to the tournament, Northville coach Chris Cronin asked the Mustangs to share a reason for why they were playing in the Finals.

“Every girl that’s playing on the state team sent back the note that they’re playing for their teammates,” Cronin said. “That was huge. I knew at that point we couldn’t lose because that’s what you shoot for as a high school coach.

“They’ve been close like that all year. That’s what made it really just extraordinarily special.”

Northville was led by sophomore Nicole Whatley, who took fourth as an individual after shooting even-par 72 despite the conditions, tying Dy for the day while playing alongside her in the final group.

“We’re definitely really close,” Whatley said about her team after carding four birdies on Saturday. “We’ve been so close together, non-stop, every single day. We just fell in love with the game and each other.”

The title was the Mustangs' first. But Northville will be the team to beat next year, as Mariella Simoncini is the lone graduating senior.

Simoncini, who said she will sign next month with Oakland University, took 13th with 163. Junior Sufna Gill tied for fifth at 155, sophomore Katelyn Tokarz tied for 20th at 168, and junior Sedona Shipka tied for 25th at 170.

Led by Dy, TC West, the reigning champion and winner of two of the previous three championships, took third at 664, three shots behind Plymouth.

Meanwhile, Dy joins four other Michigan high school golfers to win three individual Finals championships since the MHSAA began sponsoring the sport in 1973. The others are Maple City Glen Lake’s Nichole Cox (2014-16), Okemos’ Elle Nichols (2011-13) and Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Kate Loy (1993-95) – and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Danielle Staskowski won her third Division 3 championship Saturday.

The final round for the University of Michigan commit, who plans to sign with the Wolverines next month, was not without its tough moments.

On hole seven, Dy aggressively went for the par-5 green on her second shot, ending in a greenside bunker.

Dy then went up and down from there, nailing a 15-foot putt for her second of two birdies on the day and seventh for the tournament.

“I hit that clutch putt,” Dy said. “It was not a day for birdies, so I really treasured that one.

“I think that was one of those moments to keep the momentum going.”

Then, after the second weather delay, Dy had trouble finding her ball among the leaves on the 16th hole, although she eventually tracked it down – on the fairway, of course.

She managed to par, then did the same on 17 and 18 to close her career and a season where she won every event but one, a tournament in Alpena where she was nudged by her younger sister, Anci Dy.

“The one on 18 I’m going to remember for a while, because I knew it was my last hole as a high schooler,” Anika Dy said. “It was like 8 feet, it wasn’t an easy putt, and I made it and it just felt really good.”

Dy, the two-time reigning Miss Golf recipient by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association, could become the first player to win the honor three times. 

After missing out on a Finals title as a freshman by one shot, Dy won by two shots in 2016, eight shots last season and topped second-place Mikaela Schulz, a senior from Bloomfield Hills, by six shots Saturday.

Utica Eisenhower sophomore Ariel Chang, who shot 1-under 71 on Friday, took third at 148. Whatley was fourth at 149, and her teammate Gill, a junior, tied Anci Dy – Anika’s sophomore sister from TC West – for fifth at 155.

“It’s been so much fun,” Anci Dy said of playing with her sister. “I’m going to miss her.

“I don’t think she has a bad bone against anybody here, ever. She’s just so supportive. She’s very humble, which is something a lot of us just admire her for.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Northville’s Nicole Whatley watches an approach during Saturday’s second round of the Division 1 Final at Bedford Valley. (Middle) Anika Dy follows through on a shot on the way to claiming her third individual Finals title. (Click to see more from

3-Sport Standout Sluss Gives Lenawee Christian All-State Boost for Every Season

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

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.

Southeast & BorderSluss 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.

Sluss puts up a shot during last season’s Division 4 Semifinal at Breslin Center.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.”

Sluss plants a chip on the green. 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 [email protected] 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.)