Rochester Ends 'Incredible Run' on Top

November 15, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Four seasons ago, the Rochester girls golf team missed the MHSAA Finals – a rarity for a program that has won three of the last 10 Lower Peninsula Division 1 championships and finished runner-up twice.

Three seasons ago, Rochester missed the Finals again, by two strokes – and with only four golfers in the lineup.  

But 2015 was a special fall. Much to coach Jeff Haney’s surprise, the Falcons – with those same four regulars anchoring the lineup – not only made the Final but came within a stroke of winning the Division 1 championship before finishing second to Traverse City West on a fifth-score tie-breaker.

And all of that set up a championship run that culminated in a 21-stroke victory at this season’s Final at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East, a pleasing end to a wild ride.

“Their freshman year they missed going to the state finals as a team by four strokes. Sophomore year the missed out by two strokes,” Haney said. “To go from missing out on the state finals to then going to the state finals and being within a stroke of winning, to then follow it up by winning it, it’s been quite a journey. To me, that’s what I’ll remember this team by – the incredible run.”

An incredible finish to that incredible run made Rochester the clear-cut choice as Applebee’s statewide Team of the Month for October.

The Falcons won resoundingly at Forest Akers East after shooting what’s believed to be an MHSAA girls golf tournament record 289 to win their Regional on Oct. 5 at Twin Lakes in Oakland Township.

The run was fueled by balanced contributions from all five regulars. 

In the Division 1 Final, the Falcons followed two who were among the individual top 10 finishers. Senior Brooke Busse was fifth at 148, five strokes back of the lead, and senior Veronica Haque carded an eighth-place 150. However, freshman Savannah Haque (158), senior Erika Yang (163) and junior Keri Yang (166) all also finished among the top 32. 

At times through the season, the fourth and fifth players in the lineup shot the second or third-best scores at tournaments, something “definitely different in terms of depth, definitely different in that they all prepared so much, played so much and worked so much to get to this point,” said Haney, who took over the program in 2006. Four of the top five missed at least one tournament this fall, and Rochester still won a number of those events.

He noted that his isn’t the type of program that generally is able to count on adding tournament-experienced newcomers every fall. When the current seniors entered high school, Haney said he knew about Veronica Haque as a likely contributor, and that Busse had played some. But sisters Erika and Keri Yang were volleyball players when they decided to play golf instead.

Savannah Haque – Veronica’s sister – gave the Falcons another strong player this fall, and combined with her four teammates allowed Haney to focus his coaching differently. 

In the past, he spent more time coaching his golfers on aiming points, club selection and things experienced golfers might already know entering high school. But this fall he was able to focus on the Falcons' mental games. And mental prowess was a strength of this team – Rochester made academic all-state with a grade-point average of 3.748, which ranked 11th in Division 1, and Erika Yang received individual academic all-state honorable mention.

As one might expect, on-course accolades abounded as well. Busse was named after the season to the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association all-state Super Team, while Veronica Haque made the first team and Savannah Haque and Erika Yang earned honorable mentions.

“If we didn’t win, it seemed like the year was going to be a failure, and it’s hard to play like that,” Haney said. “And the other thing for which I give the girls credit, they played the whole season with everybody telling (them they were) the best team, and it was a lot of pressure. I felt it, and I’m sure the girls felt it, and to me (winning) was as much a relief as I was excited.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2016-17
Breckenridge football - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Brooke Busse watches a drive during this season’s Division 1 Final at Forest Akers East. (Middle) The Falcons line-up during the second day of the Final, from left: Keri Yang, Savannah Haque, Brooke Busse, Veronica Haque and Erika Yang. (Click to see more from

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