By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – Jack Snow was a longtime fixture with the Flint Powers Catholic golf program – a mainstay who helped build the girls program into one of the best in the state of Michigan.
He wasn’t at Forest Akers East in East Lansing on Saturday as the Chargers captured the Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship. But somewhere from up above he was smiling down as his younger brother, Jim, was leading his team to another MHSAA Finals title.
Jack passed away two summers ago. He started the girls golf program at the school and won three championships during his nearly-20 year tenure. The Chargers’ championship on Saturday was Jim Snow’s third with the program – matching his oldest brother’s total.
“He was the one who got me into the program to begin with, when the boys needed a JV coach,” said Jim, who took over the program from his wife, Michelle, back in 2006. “I’ve always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to match (his three championships). He always joked with me, saying, ‘When you get three, come talk to me.’”
Jim won the first two of his titles in back-to-back years (2007-08). Jack won his in 1989 and again in 1993-94. Jack is in the Michigan Coaches’ Hall of Fame.
Snow’s team finished fifth at last year’s Finals, but returned four of five starters this season – so expectations were high for the top-ranked Chargers. Over the weekend that experience overwhelmed the rest of the field. Powers shot a 328 on Friday and followed it up with a 331 on Saturday, good for a two-day total of 659. Those scores were the two best the Chargers have shot this season.
Sophomore Jolie Brochu led the way with her 152, which landed her atop the leaderboard at the end of the tournament, along with Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Danielle Staskowski. The Irish senior bested Brochu in the first hole of the playoff.
Junior Maggie Knight’s 156 was fourth best, while senior Gina Canavesio (176), junior Olivia Canaday and freshman Allie Sexton all contributed to their team’s season-best performances. Canavesio’s 80 on Day 1 was a career-best, while Canaday’s 86 on Saturday was her best round of the year.
“This was a fantastic team effort,” Snow said. “I’ve never been happier for Gina. She played the round of her life on Friday. It really helped us build a solid lead. I’m going to miss her because she was my sidekick out there on the golf course.
“Everybody kind of gelled this week as a team, and it was fantastic.”
The Chargers had a 21-shot lead over Freeland after Friday’s first round. The two teams tied at last week’s Regional tournament, where Powers won the tie-breaker with the fifth golfer’s score. Freeland, led by senior Olivia Pumford’s 163, finished third this weekend. Grand Rapids South Christian shot a 333 on Saturday to slide into second place. Junior Maddie Wieringa (161) and senior Natalie Samdal (166) finished fifth and eighth, respectively, to lead the Sailors.
Detroit Country Day finished fourth (714), and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep tied for fifth (725).
Staskowski won her third consecutive individual title, beating out Brochu in the playoff. Staskowski, who also won in 2016 in a playoff, came from two strokes down after Day 1 to force the playoff with Brochu.
In the playoff, the two golfers returned to the first hole, where Staskowski hit the back of the green with her approach and parred the hole to win it.
By winning her third straight individual title, Staskowski joined some rare company. She became the fifth Lower Peninsula girl to win three Finals championships, joining Traverse City West’s Anika Dy, who won her third straight Division 1 title earlier Saturday, along with Maple City Glen Lake’s Nichole Cox (2014-16), Okemos’ Elle Nichols (2011-13) and Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Kate Loy (1993-95).
Country Day senior Kristina Roberts was third overall with a 154. Marshall’s Karlee Malone was fifth (161), while Wieringa, Pumford, Samdal, Spring Lake’s Hannah Klein (166), Carleton Airport’s Kristen Reed (168), Marysville’s Madeline Blum (168) and Big Rapids’ Hope Thebo (168) rounded out the top 10.
All golfers battled extreme weather conditions over the weekend, particularly on Saturday.
“We’ve probably had worse weather, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen what we did on Saturday,” said Snow, speaking of the below-40 temperatures and periods of sleet, which halted play on two occasions. “In that weather, to hang in there. The scores that we had were absolutely phenomenal in those conditions.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Flint Powers Catholic freshman Alexandra Sexton tees off during the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. (Middle) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Danielle Staskowski sends a drive during Saturday’s second round. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Join Elizabeth Coon as State Champs! takes a look at all of the action from the 2023 Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals.