Performance: Eisenhower's Ariel Chang

September 20, 2019

Ariel Chang
Utica Eisenhower junior – Golf

The Eagles’ ace shot an even-par 72 on Sept. 11 at Cherry Creek Golf Club in Shelby Township to win her third Macomb County Tournament championship. Chang – also a two-time MHSAA Finals placer – finished eight strokes ahead of the field and led Eisenhower to its second straight county team title, earning the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.”

Chang is averaging 34.8 strokes per nine-hole match this season – down nearly a full stroke from a year ago – and 71.7 strokes in tournament play, an improvement for more than 1.5 strokes per event. She tied for sixth at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final as a freshmen and finished third in 2018 behind two seniors, leading Eisenhower to 13th and then 10th-place finishes, respectively. Chang made the Division 1 all-state first team as a freshman and the all-state Dream Team (made up of the best from all divisions) as a sophomore, and she’s won all three tournaments she’s played this fall.

Eisenhower coach Jerry Griesbeck first met Chang when she was in fifth grade, noticing her impressive swing and ball-striking even then. She has a special connection to her favorite golfer to follow – the LPGA’s Megan Khang is a distant cousin and earlier this month played on the U.S. team that finished runner-up for the Solheim Cup. Chang carries a 3.71 grade-point average and is considering studying business or dentistry after she’s completed high school. She has plenty of time to decide, of course, and also has big aspirations on the course before graduating – she’s shooting to become Eisenhower’s first MHSAA Finals individual girls golf champion and aiming to help the Eagles to their first team title.

Coach Jerry Griesbeck said: “While everyone marvels Ariel’s talents on the course, there is another side of her that her teammates admire most. A trait she learned from her family: Never put herself first.  Ariel is one of the biggest cheerleaders on the team, always willing to help a teammate who needs a lift, (offer) a kind word of encouragement to another, or a golf lesson to a couple of others free of charge.”   

Performance Point: “This time around I didn’t play that great because the last two times I won I shot a 69 and 72,” Chang said. “So for me, my standards, when I play I don’t really play against other people. I play against myself, and I knew that day that I could do better than that. I left a lot of putts out there. But overall at the end of the day I still won, so I can’t be mad at myself. I enjoyed it, especially that my team won also.”

Finals in my sights: “I’ve been practicing really hard, because I got so close the past two years. So I’m going to try to win states – that’s my ultimate goal for this year. I think I’ve worked a lot on my mental (game), and it’s gotten a lot better. Like when I make a bad shot, I think about my next shot and I don’t think about my bad shot before. I play a lot of tournaments, so my mental game, it gets better as I go through the experience. I want the pressure … so I can do better.”

Eagles ready to soar: “I feel like we even got better from last year. Because I know how hard my girls push and that they really, really push themselves, so they know they can do so much better. We’ve been practicing really hard – they voluntarily practice themselves, even outside of the high school practices. They have more confidence in themselves this year. I think that’s why they’re shooting better.”

Epic driving: “My driver this year, it’s been going farther. And whenever I hit … there was this one time, I was playing with this girl and she’s like, ‘Every time you hit your driver, I feel like it goes in slow motion.’ I did get a new driver. I got the (Callaway) Epic Flash. I had the Epic before, the regular one, and I got the new one – I’ve just always loved the Epic.”

Seeing me in Megan: “When she sets up her shot, she’s all focused. But when the shot is done with, she relaxes a bit and she’s more goofy. But when it’s your turn, you get down to business and you focus on your shot. … I’m so proud of her. She’s gotten a long way.”

– Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Past honorees

Sept. 12:

Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Utica Eisenhower's Ariel Chang watches one of her shots during the Macomb County Tournament on Sept. 11. (Middle) Chang lines up a putt on the way to winning the championship for the third time. (Photos courtesy of C&G Newspapers.)

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