Sailing Into MHSAA History

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

October 11, 2012

Along with their clubs and cold-weather gear, and everything else necessary to win a tournament, a sign has accompanied the Muskegon Mona Shores girls golf team on every road trip this fall. It hangs in the team van and reads “Team Before Me,” and is signed by every member.

Each of the Sailors’ top six players, individually, could top most lineups in the state. But the sign serves as a reminder of what they can accomplish together.

Next weekend, Mona Shores can make MHSAA history.

The Sailors – recipients of a Second Half High 5 this week – are one of four Lower Peninsula teams that have won three straight MHSAA championships since the first Finals were played in 1973. A week from Friday, at The Meadows at Grand Valley State, Mona Shores will attempt to become the first team to win four in a row – keyed by four competitive seniors who played for the first three championship teams and have pushed each other toward one more fantastic finish.

“That’s what’s kept the adrenaline going with them. They want to beat each other, and they want to beat each other bad,” said Mona Shores coach John Brainard, who’s finishing his 16 seasons. “But still, they understand that it’s the team before me. We hang that note card up in the van before we go, and we’ve been trying to keep with that team concept.”

Seniors Morgan Smith, Hailey Hrynewich, Britni Gielow and Kelsey McKinley all have earned all-state recognition during their tremendous run, and all four were part of the lineups that won those first three MHSAA titles.

The 2009 team shot a two-day 666 at Michigan State's Forest Akers East to win Division 2 by 15 strokes, with then-senior Brooke Adamczak fourth individually, Hrynewich fifth and Smith sixth.

In 2010, the Sailors shot a 699 at Forest Akers West and won Division 2 by 26 strokes – this time with Hrynewich second individually and Smith fourth.

Mona Shores made it three straight last fall with a 27-stroke win, shooting a 661 at Katke-Cousins Golf Course at Oakland University. Smith finished third individually and Hrynewich tied for fifth, as all five Sailors shot 172 or lower.

The four seniors were beneficiaries of a good boost coming into high school, as Mona Shores was coming off a tie for fourth at the 2008 Division 2 Final. But this group was an obvious difference-maker; prior to 2008, Mona Shores hadn’t qualified for the Finals in at least a decade, and had never won an MHSAA title.

“If you would’ve asked me when they were freshmen four years ago, I would’ve said they were acquaintances,” Brainard said of his seniors. “But they’ve become competitive with each other, and they’ve grown and become friends.”

Mona Shores has won all of its events this fall, with tremendous scores along the way. The Sailors set their team record, 296, while playing in the O-K Black postseason tournament at The Meadows. At a jamboree earlier this season, Smith shot a 34 to break the individual nine-hole record, only to have Hrynewich card a 33 that same day – and then a 32 later on. Those two are tied for the school record for 18 holes at 70 strokes, both shooting that score at The Meadows – Hrynewich at the O-K Black preseason tournament and Smith at the postseason championship when the Sailors set their team record.

Good golf has become a part of Mona Shores culture. The boys team – featuring Hrynewich’s twin brother Reed – finished third at the Division 1 Final this spring. Brainard pointed to Oak Ridge Golf Club and the Muskegon Country Club because of how they've welcomed youth golfers, and the community's junior programs are thriving and filling the high school programs with talent.

The boys program has won four MHSAA titles, and it’s difficult to imagine the girls not equaling that total and extending their streak next weekend. Hailey Hrynewich won Wednesday’s Regional at Bowen Lake Links with a 76, followed by Smith with a 79 and Gielow and McKinley among those tied for third with 81s. Sophomore Rylee George’s score didn’t count toward the team title, but she finished 13th with a 93.

Hrynewich and Smith have taken their turns finishing first and second for the Sailors all season and sport stroke averages that again compare with the state's elite. Hrynewich averages 37 strokes for nine-hole matches and 74.8 for 18-hole events, while Smith – who has committed to play at Oakland next season – is averaging 38.8 and 76.1, respectively.

Right behind are Gielow (39.6/81.5) and McKinley (41/80.9). George (43.8/88.9) and freshman Sami Pyman (46.7/91.6) are among those expected to move up the lineup next fall, and have provided solid punch playing behind their older teammates.

Brainard said he and his seniors had a laugh recently remembering how some shot in the 90s and even north of 100 during freshman tryouts four seasons ago. But they’ve all improved significantly during this run, and they all know what it will take to finish what can become an unprecedented run.

“Yesterday we met at 7 (a.m.) to get in the van and go, and if it was a month ago that we had to meet at 7, they would’ve been dead tired,” Brainard said. “But they were flying high.

“They understand it. With golf, yesterday was the day they had to perform. Of all the tournaments and meets that we do, we want to win (now) and do the best that we can.”

PHOTOS: (Top) Mona Shores senior Morgan Smith lines up a putt during last season's Division 2 Final at Katke-Cousins Golf Course. (Middle) The Sailors, including coach John Brainard, accept their third-straight MHSAA championship trophy after last season's win.

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