Sisters Shine as Dow Charges to 1st Title

October 15, 2016

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

ALLENDALE – A friendly rivalry between two talented sisters helped the Midland Dow girls golf team accomplish a feat this weekend that was four years in the making.

Senior Stephanie Carras and junior Alexis Carras forged a competitive battle for individual honors and propelled the Chargers to a victory at Saturday’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final at The Meadows at Grand Valley State.

Midland Dow won its first MHSAA girls golf title in school history by firing a two-day total of 645. It defeated runner-up and reigning champion Birmingham Seaholm by a whopping 48 strokes.

Stephanie Carras captured medalist honors with a 139 to outduel her younger sibling by six strokes. Flushing’s Kerrigan Parks was third with a 150.

“It’s a healthy rivalry between us,” said Stephanie Carras, who shot under-par both days with rounds of 69 and 70. “We support each other, and it helps both of us.”

Added Alexis Carras, who shot 76 on Friday before closing with a final round 4-under 69: “We’re always secretly hoping the other one does well too. If we’re close, we start getting on each other. I didn’t know what I was shooting until the last hole when my dad told me. I didn’t know I was beating Steph.”

Both girls tied the school record with their 69s. Stephanie Carras equaled the score of 2009 Finals medalist Kim Dihn earlier in the season and duplicated that number Friday.

“It’s definitely a friendly rivalry between those two, which pushes them and helped us to accomplish as a team what we just did today,” Midland Dow coach Doug Bradford said. “They root for each other, but there is a competitiveness between them. They always want to know where the other one is and how close they are.

“It was a great effort today, and obviously Stephanie and Alexis just played lights out.”

The Chargers had been close in previous seasons with top-5 finishes at the Finals each of the last three seasons.

They finished runner-up a year ago to Birmingham Seaholm, which saw a stretch of three consecutive Division 2 crowns come to an end.     

“We quietly talked about it all year,” Bradford said. “We didn’t come out and talk about it every day, but we talked about the goal and the goal was a state championship. We had three goals. Win league, win regionals and then state.

“Any state championship is wonderful, and it’s what you dream of as a kid. Either to play for one or coach one and to be a part of this is just really fun. The freshmen coming through have been so close, and for them to finish their careers with a state championship is just great.”

The Chargers received contributions from others as well. Junior Giacomina Fabiano and seniors Caroline Szabo and Morgan Dieters also delivered consistent scores.

Szabo said team chemistry was the catalyst in her team’s triumph.

“We’re all such good friends, and it is so cool to do it with people you are close with,” she said. “We want to do well for each other, not just ourselves. This is really amazing because we’ve done a ton of things that this program has never done, but we couldn’t do the one we really wanted. This was our ultimate goal, and it’s really amazing.”

Stephanie Carras, who will play golf at the University of Georgia next season, also had motivation from last year.

She finished runner-up for medalist honors, but saved her best for last with solid putting on the greens.

“It’s incredible, and I’m so excited because I’ve never won as an individual,” Stephanie Carras said. “This is big, and yesterday and today my putting was just going well. I feel like that helped me out here. I had the lead going into today, but my coach told me it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

The Chargers built a commanding 19-stroke lead after the first day.

“We knew we were in good shape, but they still put some pressure on themselves,” Bradford said. “I think they did a great job of finishing, and I’m really proud of them.”

Alexis Carras said she and her teammates took the early advantage in stride and just dedicated themselves to remaining poised.

“Last year was disappointing because we didn’t play well, and we were just really hoping for it this year,” she said. “We just decided to play our games and whatever happens, happens. Just do your best, and that’s what we did. I can’t believe it. This is surreal.”

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PHOTOS: (Top) Midland Dow's Stephanie Carras watches one of her shots during Saturday's second round at The Meadows. (Middle) Sister Alexis Carras follows through during her second round. (Click to see more from

3 Receive National Honors from NHSACA, Coaching Pair Named to Hall of Fame

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

July 11, 2024

One of the longest-serving members of the MHSAA Representative Council and two longtime Michigan high school coaches have received highest honors this summer from the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.

Brighton athletic director John Thompson was named Athletic Director of the Year during the NHSACA’s annual conference June 26 in Bismarck, N.D. He has supervised the Bulldogs’ highly-accomplished athletic program for two decades and served on the Representative Council the last 14 years, including currently as vice president.

Thompson also this year received the Thomas Rashid Athletic Director of the Year Award from the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA). Brighton was selected as an MIAAA exemplary athletic program in 2015 and as an ESPN unified champion school in 2018, the latter recognizing its statewide leadership in cultivating unified sport opportunities.

Additionally, Farmington Hills Mercy girls golf coach Vicky Kowalski and Livonia Stevenson girls swimming & diving coach Greg Phil were named NHSACA National Coach of the Year in their respective sports.

Kowalski completed her 46th season coaching Mercy last fall by leading the program to its second-straight Lower Peninsula Division 2 championship and fourth MHSAA Finals title overall. She also in January was named the 2022-23 National Coach of the Year in her sport by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association. She was inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Association (MHSCA) Hall of Fame this year for both golf and bowling.

Phil has coached girls swimming & diving since 1976, including at Stevenson since 1985. After winning the Kensington Lakes Activities Association East title, the most recent of several league championships under his leadership, Stevenson finished 16th at last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals and previously had placed Finals runner-up twice. Phil was named to the MHSCA Hall of Fame in 2012.

All three honorees were nominated for the national recognition by the MHSCA. Beal City baseball coach Brad Antcliff, now-retired Leland volleyball coach Laurie Glass, Ann Arbor Greenhills boys tennis coach Eric Gajar and Lowell wrestling coach R.J. Boudro also were National Coach of the Year finalists.

Additionally, longtime softball coaches Kay Johnson of Morenci and Kris Hubbard from Ottawa Lake Whiteford were inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame. Johnson went over 1,000 career wins this spring and has led her program since 1993, including to Class C championships in 1985 and 1986. Hubbard retired after the 2019 season with an 865-380-3 record since taking over in 1974, with Class D titles in 1984, 1985 and 1987.