Traverse City West junior – Golf
The now two-time reigning Lower Peninsula Division 1 champion claimed her second straight MHSAA individual title and led West to its second team championship in three seasons Friday and Saturday to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Dy shot a two-day 141 to best the field at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University by eight strokes, leading off with a first-round 69. Her 141 tied the fourth-lowest 36-hole score in MHSAA Girls Golf Finals history, and she became only the 11th golfer to break 70 for an 18-hole Finals round. West’s team score of 626 was 22 strokes lower than the field and ranked third all-time in Lower Peninsula/Class A Finals history. Next season Dy will play to become only the fourth in MHSAA history to win three Lower Peninsula girls golf individual titles – and she also finished runner-up as a freshman by only a stroke.
Her numbers this entire season were similarly incredible. Dy averaged 69.6 strokes for 18 holes and shot no worse than par in any of her rounds with only two double bogies the entire fall. Outside the high school season, she made the Michigan Women’s Amateur Championship semifinals this summer and played in the United States Golf Association Women’s State Team Championship in New Mexico alongside her sister Anci, a freshman on West’s team this fall who tied for sixth at last weekend’s MHSAA Final. Anika Dy already has committed to continue her golf career at University of Michigan, and she carries a 4.0 grade-point average.
Coach Karl Gagnon said: “She works harder than any golfer I have been around. She will practice at 7 a.m. before school just to make sure she gets her practice time in. And as good a golfer as she is, she is a better person. She is humble and never fails to tell the kids she plays with she enjoyed playing with them. She encourages everyone she plays with. At the same time, she has that competitive fire in her. The first day of state finals, she came off the course so upset with her round. She felt anger she didn’t play better. I asked her what she shot. She gave me her card … 69. I said, ‘Are you kidding?’ But that’s Anika. Always wanting to do better.”
Performance Point: “It’s still kind of a shock. Honestly it was a goal to go there and win, but I still can’t wrap my head around it – especially since it’s our second win as a team in the last three years,” Dy said. “I was on a roll (during the first round). I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just kept going with it. The second day was a different story. I struggled a little more. But that first day was really, really, really fun. (Putting) definitely lowered my score a little bit because my long game wasn’t there to back it up. … (The championships) were all special in their own ways, but this year was maybe a little more special because my sister was on the team, so it was fun to share that experience with her. And doing it a second time around just really lets me know what I’m doing is working. It’s really helped my confidence going through this year and for next season too.”
Ready to represent: “One of our seniors really, really stepped up, Megan Jenkinson. I’m so proud of how she played; those were probably her best two rounds this whole season (Jenkinson tied for ninth). We prepared really well, and we just came together as a team. We were in such a good mindset, and it just worked out in the end. We always like to joke about representing the northern Michigan side of things because we’re so far away, and not many other teams know that we’re up here sometimes. So when we come down, we like to show them what we’ve got and make a run for it.”
Sister act: “Just growing up together (with Anci) playing golf and everything is really fun, and we never got to actually play on a team before in a competitive setting. So just to be able to do that and experience it for the first time was fun and exciting and new. Neither of (our parents) play golf. I got into it because of my dad, but he only stuck with it for a year and quit, but I kept going with it. It’s funny because people are always like, ‘Neither of your parents golf?’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s just us two.’ To be honest, I was more interested in the golf carts before I was interested in golf, but eventually my dad got me clubs and I just kept with it because I loved it so much, just competing.”
See a different game: “I just love watching golf, whoever is playing, just because those are the best people, on the TV. And obviously there’s a reason why they’re the best. So you can always learn something from their long game, short game, mental game, whatever it is; those are the best players and you can definitely learn something from any of them. I think I watch to see their strategy and what they do so I can kinda imitate them and see what works for me, because obviously it works for them – so maybe it will help get my game to the next level as well.”
Golf and grades: “My parents are always school first and then golf, so in order for me to do what I love I have to do well in school as well. They’re pretty strict with my grades and school and all of that. They understand though that I’m really busy with golf and school, so they kinda cut me some slack sometimes. I think (golf and academics) go hand in hand. They both teach you discipline and time management, which is important for college because you do also miss a lot of school when you go to tournaments, so I think it’s preparing me well for that college experience.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2017-18 honorees:
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Traverse City West's Anika Dy watches one of her drives during last weekend's LP Division 1 Final at The Meadows. (Middle) Dy tests the strength of the wind before an approach shot. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.)