Marian Caps Run by Rattling Off Winners

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

June 4, 2016

HOLLY – The first four championship matches Saturday at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Girls Tennis Finals ended with a Bloomfield Hills Marian victory – and all within about 5 minutes of one another.

“It was just like, you didn’t know what to do,” said McKenna Landis, who joined teammate Regan Patterson to win the No. 1 doubles title for the Mustangs. “They’re smiling, you’re smiling, you’re crying, everyone’s happy, so let’s just hug. It was just crazy.”

The four flight champions had more than their individual triumphs to celebrate, as they had also put an exclamation point on Marian’s first team MHSAA title since 2013. The Mustangs finished with 32 points, nine ahead of East Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern, who tied for second with 23. Birmingham Seaholm was fourth with 22, and Okemos rounded out the top five with 21.

“It’s a great feeling,” Marian coach Lincoln Wirgau said. “These girls, they work so hard, and the season is so short from March to right now. They put in so much time and effort into a sport that’s not covered enough. They’re out here in 90-degree heat right now, playing two out of three sets, two matches, three matches a day; it’s wonderful to see their work pay off.”

Marian had the team title clinched before the finals started, but none of the players knew that. They certainly played as though there was a lot more still at stake, as four of the team’s five finalists walked away victorious.

Landis and Patterson were joined by the No. 2 doubles team of Melanie Roma and Shannon Flynn, the No. 4 doubles team of Christina Serra and Sophie Groves, and No. 4 singles player Sophie Balardo as champions in their flights.

“That’s a great rush,” Wirgau said. “A lot of them are seniors, and a lot of them have been working for this since their freshman year, so it’s great for those girls. For those seniors to go off winning their last match, and to do it next, next, next, next – that was something special right there.

“They play for each other. They just play for each other. I don’t have any five-star, blue chip USTA players. They come and they work for each other, and it’s a team game, and they know that’s the first overall goal is that team one.”

Landis and Patterson were first, finishing off a 6-4, 6-4 win against rivals Caity Buechner and Meaghan Flynn of Seaholm.

“We still wanted to fight for the individual state championship,” Patterson said. “We didn’t want to just think, ‘OK, the team has it, we can just do whatever.’ We wanted it for ourselves, too. And the team did, too.”

Before they could finish their congratulatory hugs, Balardo had finished off her 6-1, 6-2 win against Claire Costa of East Grand Rapids. Balardo hadn’t stepped off the court before Serra and Groves finished their 6-1, 6-3 win against East Grand Rapids’ team of Audrey Devries and Kate Mackeigen. That happened at essentially the same time Roma and Flynn finished their 6-3, 6-1 win against Seaholm’s team of Sam Lareau and Emily McDermott.

“Over half of our team is seniors,” Balardo said. “So we all wanted to go out with a lot of will power and do this.”

While Marian wrapped up its title early, the No. 1 singles final went the distance, just as the first two matches between Okemos’ Alisa Sabotic and Mason’s Olivia Hanover have this season. And just like the first matches did, this one ended with Sabotic coming out victorious.

Sabotic, a sophomore, rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory, capping her first year of high school tennis with an MHSAA title.

“I knew I just had to be prepared for anything,” Sabotic said. “In the last two matches, I had won the first set, but in this one, she won the first set, so that kind of threw me off a little bit. But you just have to be prepared, have to hydrate and eat a lot, because I knew that I was going to need a lot of energy.”

Sabotic responded well to the first-set loss, dominating the second set and jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the third. But Hanover didn’t relent, tying the match at 3-3, and earning a break of Sabotic’s serve after falling behind 5-3. Sabotic was able to finish the match off, however, with a break of her own.

“I was like hyperventilating for a second,” Sabotic said with a laugh. “I kind of told myself, ‘It’s all or nothing. Just play your game, go for the ball, and whatever happens, it’s meant to be.’”

Sabotic’s teammate, Monika Francsics, gave Okemos a sweep of the top two flights, as she defeated Marian’s Breann Lunghamer 6-3, 6-2 for the No. 2 singles title.

Felicia Zhang of Forest Hills Northern rallied to win the No. 3 singles title 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 against Okemos’ Sema Colak.

At No. 3 doubles, Forest Hills Northern’s team of Salonee Marwaha and Claire Tatman fought off a tough opponent and the home crowd with a 6-4, 7-6 (5) win against Holly’s Megan Lesperance and Nicole Johnson.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bloomfield Hills Marian's Regan Patterson (right) and McKenna Landis celebrate their doubles championship during Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals. (Middle) Okemos' Alisa Sabotic returns a shot on the way to winning the No. 1 singles title. (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