Reigning Champs Retain Titles in D4

October 17, 2015

By Mark Meyer
Special for Second Half

EAST LANSING – A pair of twos were wild Saturday afternoon at Forest Akers East golf course.

Twos as in two straight Lower Peninsula Division 4 girls golf titles for Kalamazoo Hackett and two straight individual medalist honors for Maple City Glen Lake junior Nichole Cox. 

Hackett held off Macomb Lutheran North to win the team title by nine strokes (684-693) while Cox carded a 74 to go with her 76 on Friday for a two-day total of 150, six strokes better than Frankenmuth runner-up Meg Watkins.

Hackett coach Alan Radomsky stood off to the side of the scoreboard as the team totals were being tabulated. He was comfortable in knowing that his team was prepared to play its best golf, despite the blustery, 45-degree weather. 

“I don’t do a lot of coaching when the girls are on the course,” said Radomsky, whose team led by three strokes after Friday’s opening round. “I was confident in knowing that they were prepared to make the shots that would keep us in contention.

“Even though we won by a lot last year (33 strokes), I felt just as good going into the final round this year because I knew the girls would bring their best. That’s the kind of team they are.” 

Junior Naomi Keyte led Hackett with a 76, and finished third overall at 158. Teammates Lizzie Stull (78-90) and Becca Radomsky (88-80) tied for sixth overall at 168.

“Lizzie didn’t quite have the round she was hoping for but Naomi and Becca were there to back her up,” Radomsky said, “and that’s pretty much how it’s been throughout the season. They pick each other up, support one another and refuse to let anything get them down.

“This team, more than any other I’ve coached (at Hackett) has truly exemplified what it means to be a team.” 

Molly Clark (102-94) and Savannah Madden (96-105) completed the scoring for Hackett, which held a 344-347 lead over Lutheran North after 18 holes.

Lutheran North placed three individuals in the top 10. Sophomore Serena Nguyen shot 82-80 to finish fourth at 162 while teammates Sydney Martens (85-85) and Kaity Rittner (85-86) finished ninth and 10th, respectively. 

Watkins’ 75 on Saturday helped Frankenmuth secure third place at 722 while Livonia Ladywood (725) and Lansing Catholic (761) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Meanwhile, Cox – who traveled nearly 200 miles from her home in Leelanau County’s Kasson Township (population of approximately 1,500) – felt right at home amid the stiff wind and cold temperature. 

“I’m used to it, almost to the point where I look forward to it,” Cox said. “I think I do have an advantage in that the cooler temperatures really don’t bother me.”

Cox said she had a feeling it might be a good day after draining a long birdie putt on the opening hole. 

“It started poorly (on hole No. 5) because I pulled my drive under a tree and then had to punch out,” Cox said. “I end up on the back side of the green, a long ways away. Then somehow I manage to sink this impossible, twisty-turning putt for a birdie. I had a feeling some more good things were going to happen.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Kalamazoo Hackett repeated as LP Division 4 champion, this time winning at Forest Akers East. (Middle) Maple City Glen Lake's Nichole Cox, left, and Frankenmuth's Meg Watkins claimed the top two spots in the individual standings. (Click for 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.)