Wind, Hail Can't Stop Repeat Champs

October 20, 2018

By Steve Vedder
Special for Second Half

ALLENDALE – Ignoring the worst actually brought out the best in Alissa Fish.

The Brooklyn Columbia Central senior thumbed her nose at woeful conditions to successfully defend her Lower Peninsula Division 4 girls golf championship Saturday at The Meadows on the Grand Valley State campus. Fish finished with a two-day total of 162 to outdistance runner-up Hillary Ziemba of Jackson Lumen Christi, who finished with a 167.

The brutal weather conditions featured frigid temperatures in the mid-40s, a bone-chilling high wind warning, bouts of thunder and lightning which caused a long delay and even sideways hail.

Not a problem, said Fish, who admitted she's never played in worse conditions after shooting a 5-over par 77 on Friday and an 85 on Saturday.

"It was pretty tough," she said. "You just have to get lost in your shot. If the wind is blowing in your face, you've still got to make the shot. You have to hit the ball like the conditions were normal.

"(Friday) I was satisfied with how I played. The weather was worse today, but I still expected to do better. I won but I left (some shots) out there."

While Fish successfully retained the individual title, Harbor Springs also won back-to-back team championships by shooting a two-day 362-368-730. Shepherd was runner-up with a 369-381-750. North Muskegon was third with a 381-373-754 and Kalamazoo Hackett, the tournament leader after the first day, was fourth at 359-398-757.

Harbor Springs coach Pete Kelbel agreed with Fish that the conditions were miserable. But his players, including four veterans from last year's club, were able to overcome the wind and rain. They also faced a tough field as North Muskegon returned all five players from last year's fourth-place finisher and was ranked No. 1 in the state. In addition, six of last year's top 10 individual placers returned.

"It was the worst two days weather-wise I've seen," he said. “My hats off to Grand Valley for their work. The course was wonderful, but you couldn't pay people to play today."

Kelbel said the goal of repeating actually began after winning the 2017 tournament. Four of the leading scorers returned this fall, including four-year varsity seniors Callie O'Neill and Madi Bezilla, who tied for eighth this weekend with 175s.

The Rams won seven of 10 tournaments they entered this season, losing only to reigning Division 1 champ Traverse City West and Shepherd.

"It's very hard to repeat, especially when the weather gets like this," Kelbel said. "We knew we had four girls back, so we knew we could be good. We were fortunate to have them back."

Kelbel said battling the conditions was as much mental as physical.

"It was a mental toughness thing," he said. "We have a shorter season, so we're playing when the courses open in the spring."

Fish said she didn't necessarily feel pressure in her bid to win back-to-back titles. Battling the weather was no help, but she said players have to overcome whatever conditions are presented. In addition to the two Division 4 titles, Fish was a three-time conference and Regional champ. Of the team's seven tournaments this season, she won six.

"It's not always about winning; it's about wanting to play well,"' she said. "You have to get lost in the moment. Pressure makes it more fun – I like pressure, that's what I play for. I thrive on pressure."

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PHOTOS: (Top) Harbor Springs senior Madi Bezilla follows her shot during Saturday’s second round of the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Final at The Meadows. (Middle) Brooklyn Columbia Central’s Alissa Fish lines up a putt. (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