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

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