Marquette Ends Negaunee 5-Year Reign

October 2, 2019

By Ryan Spitza
Special for Second Half

NEGAUNEE — All good things must come to an end. 

After a five-year run as Upper Peninsula Division 1 champion, the Negaunee girls tennis team was dethroned by Marquette on Wednesday at the MHSAA Final played at the Negaunee Tennis Complex. 

The Redettes claimed the team title for the first time since 2005, earning 17 points to the Miners' 10. Menominee was third with seven points, while Kingsford and Escanaba each had six and Gladstone three. 

Marquette advanced to six out of eight flight finals, including all four singles matches, while the Miners advanced to three. The Maroons also competed in three flights, while the Flivvers made it to two flights and the Braves and Eskymos each to one. 

It was a long time coming for Marquette, and head coach Derek Sandstrom has seen many athletes come through the program over the years who came up just a little bit short. 

"It's been a while; it's been a long time," he said. "We've had a lot of great girls along the way who didn't get to this point, but I don't want to belittle them at all. We've had some great tennis players and great kids come through this program. This group is just the one that brought home a trophy." 

Marquette had two losses in duals all season, both to the Miners. Those meetings were close though, and Sandstrom knew that things could've gone either way Wednesday. 

“A couple of bounces here and there is all it takes,” Sandstrom said. “We played tough with Negaunee during the regular season. I told the girls, the last meet we played them, they won the match score but if you look at the actual scorecard, each team won 10. We were there, we just had to do something to get over the hump. Individually, some of the girls found their way." 

The Redettes claimed four finals flights, two singles and two doubles. 

In the top singles flight, Elysa Olivier topped Menominee's Jenna Nolde to cap an undefeated senior season and earn the third individual Finals title of her high school career. 

"I just tried to focus and have fun," Olivier said. "We played earlier in the season, and I beat (Nolde) 6-0, 6-4 that time. She's a very good player."

Piercing cold weather in the 40s throughout the day didn't affect Olivier, who topped Nolde in two sets again, this time 6-0, 6-2. 

"I actually prefer playing in the cold rather than the sun," Olivier said. "I don't really like serving into the sun. I don't think (cold) really affects you at all. You just need to conserve your energy." 

Olivier will look to join her older brother Alec as part of the Ferris State University tennis programs next season. 

The Redettes' other singles win came in the No. 2 flight, with fellow senior Mollie Kilpela topping Menominee's Josie Hofer in two sets, 7-6, 7-6. 

Marquette also claimed Nos. 3 and 4 doubles, with the team of Zoey Brian and Ruth Hummell topping Escanaba’s Maddy Michica and Gracie Wickham 6-4, 6-4 in the third flight, while Julianna Golisek and Alyson LaBelle defeated Kingsford's Liz Penegor and Jenna Olkkonen 6-0, 6-0 at No. 4. 

Sandstrom was pleased with his team's performance, and said this is only a small chapter in their lives ahead. 

"The girls played well," he said. "We had some ups and downs throughout the year. Elysa and Mollie, they were the runner of the ship and we just followed their lead. We finally kept up with them all the way to the end of the year. 

"I'm really proud of the girls. It's just a really cool group of kids. None of them are peaking at high school. They're all going to go on to bigger and better things, and this is something they'll remember when they come back for their 10-year class reunion and stuff like that. I'm proud of the way they came together as a team, and they all genuinely love each other. That's the cool part." 

It was the end of a half-decade run for Negaunee, but the Miners still had a strong day winning three championship matches.

Lexi Mason defeated Marquette's Campbell Kallio at No. 3 singles in two sets, 6-3, 7-5. Negaunee also claimed the top two doubles flights, with the team of Morgan Carlson and Katelyn Lammi topping Menominee's Megan Francour and Emma Anderson 6-2, 6-1 at No. 1, and the team of Shaylee Menhennick and Tianna Williams edging Gladstone's Emily Marenger and Emma DeLaire 6-3, 6-2. 

Miners coach Kyle Saari said it was a year of exciting challenges for his team, and he was proud of the way his players battled throughout a season of learning.

"Each and every year is fun," he said. "As you come into it, each and every year presents a little different and unique challenge. I was very pleased with the way we ended up going through the regular season with a team that was kind of learning on the go and learning as we kind of transitioned. I'm proud of our girls in that regard. 

"What happens sometimes when you enter those tournament situations at the end of the year, sometimes that becomes the time where girls don't really know what to expect. A lot of girls will return next year. I think they've learned a lot from the conference and U.P. tournaments in terms of preparation and how to handle a match day and things like that. That'll be good for us moving forward." 

Saari credited his three individual champions as well as the Redettes for putting out strong finals performances. 

"At No. 1, Morgan and Katelyn have been super consistent all year long. They're good friends, they're both good athletes and their games have complemented each other well,” he said. “They've been good leaders for our team as a whole and the way that they practice, the way that they support the other girls, it's good to see them rewarded. 

"Lexi at No. 3 singles put together a really solid year. She got better each time out and was definitely deserving of that No. 3 singles championship.

"Looking at the performance as a whole, the key for anybody is always getting flights through to the finals. Marquette had a tremendous day. They played well throughout their lineup and put six in the finals. We had three. We were able to win all three, but to win a U.P. Final, your depth really has to carry you. Some days it does, and some it doesn't." 

The only final that didn't go to the Miners or Redettes was No. 4 singles, which saw Kingsford's Lizzy Cross defeat Marquette's Haddie Ketzenberger 6-3, 6-2. 

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette's Elysa Olivier returns a volley during a No. 1 singles match Wednesday. (Middle) Negaunee's Jillian Skewis sends the ball back while playing No. 2 singles (Photos by Amy Grigas).

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