Westwood's Aces Finish with Four

June 21, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Neither Megan Manninen nor Berkley LaFreniere had seen their complete body of work all in one place before coach Jared Koski laid it out on a table at Ishpeming Westwood’s girls golf team banquet earlier this month.

Standing tall among a number of accolades were four MHSAA Finals championship trophies.

“It was exciting. It was the first time I really saw them all together,” LaFreniere said. “It’s a great accomplishment. Coming into high school, I didn’t think anything of (being able to do) it.”

Only a few have achieved that feat. It’s the fourth such streak in 35 years of the Upper Peninsula Girls Finals.

But what makes this one stand out is that the championships came across two divisions – the Upper Peninsula is split into three – with Westwood, a school of roughly 350 students, winning three in Division 2 and the fourth in Division 1 against schools with two and three times more students.

The first three titles were won by nearly the same group of players. Three new ones filled in this spring. And the constants on all four were Manninen and LaFreniere, the recipients of Second Half's final High 5s of 2011-12.

Three times – in 2009, 2011 and this season – Manninen was medalist. This spring, she won with an 87, while LaFreniere finished second with a 90.

They’ve been good friends since first grade and grew closer still when both started playing more basketball together during sixth. Manninen was the Patriots’ 5-foot-4 point guard during the winter, and LaFreniere, at 5-9, was one of her post players.

LaFreniere also played No. 1 doubles in the fall as Westwood's tennis team won its third-straight MHSAA Finals in that sport. And Manninen has signed to play hoops next season at Lake Superior State University.

“Golf is a game where you’re out there alone. You either get it or you don’t … and they’re used to that pressure,” said Koski, who also is Manninen’s uncle. “They’re competitive, and academically also, fighting for grades and standing in their class and in (National) Honors Society. They are a little more seasoned.”

Despite a season often affected by weather – Koski said his players usually don’t get outside until April, and the Finals this spring were May 31 and June 1 – Manninen and LaFreniere both averaged 45.3 strokes for nine holes.

And Manninen continued her strong play despite missing nearly three weeks of practice while traveling to the University of Michigan hospital to visit another uncle and huge sports supporter, Jamie Reichardt, before he died May 14.

Those hospital trips helped Manninen decide to pursue a degree in pre-med. And that sad event led to one of the most touching stories of this spring’s tournaments. At the Final at Newberry Country Club, Manninen carried in her bag a sleeve of balls that had belonged to her uncle and were labeled with his nickname “Colonel.”

She played the entire 18 holes using just one ball.

“That was some extra motivation,” Manninen said. “I told myself I couldn’t lose that ball.”

Both girls got their golfing starts at Wawonowin Country Club in Champion, about three miles west of Ishpeming – Manninen’s father Kevin manages the course and LaFreniere’s father Paul is a longtime member. The girls grew up playing Marquette County Junior Golf Association events together. Both got their toughest individual competition from each other most of the last few seasons, but neither thought about it that way.

Their performances at the top made a difference throughout the line-up. Koski said the pair would build a 20-stroke lead against the opposing top-two players, which allowed the Patriots’ 3-5 players to work on holding their own instead of facing pressure to put up a low number.

“They drive themselves the best they can,” Koski said. “They’re both good students, and they know how to make good decisions on the course. (And) they don’t like to lose.”

Click to read more about their favorite players and future plans

PHOTOS: (Top) Ishpeming Westwood's Berkley LaFreniere and Megan Manninen pose after all four of the Patriots' Finals wins in 2009, 2010, 2011 and this spring. (Middle above) LaFreniere finished runner-up at this season's Final at Newberry Country Club. (Middle below) Manninen won her third individual championship this spring, this time shooting an 87. (Bottom) LaFreniere (left) and Manninen pose with their four trophies and various other accolades during the team banquet earlier this month.

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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