Pioneer, Bloomfield Hills Solidify Shared Superiority in Division 1

By Tom Lang
Special for

June 5, 2021

MASON – It is pretty rare for the No. 4 doubles tennis match to draw a large crowd – but that’s exactly what happened on Saturday at Mason High at the close of the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals.

And now the underclassman duo of Kamryn Dumas and Megan Blake of Holland West Ottawa have an entirely new band of “sisters” and fans in the Pioneers of Ann Arbor.

Dumas and Blake battled down to the bitter end and closely defeated the team of Grace Bickersteth/Ellie Alberts of Bloomfield Hills, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4, to win their first individual state championship.

More definitively, their win allowed Pioneer to hang on and tie Bloomfield Hills overall, 30-30 in team points to settle the Finals team race with co-champions. Birmingham Seaholm earned 20 points to place third.

“I think it’s so fun that even though we’re on different teams we can still come together and cheer for each other,” Blake said about the Pioneer team swarming the No. 4 doubles court afterwards.

Ann Arbor Pioneer tennisIf Bloomfield Hills had won that last match, the Black Hawks would have earned the team championship outright.

“Our attitude was good today,” Blake added. “We just worked together, we came together between points to talk with each other and pull each other up.”

Dumas said representing their school and city – heck, their region too – was important.

“It’s kind of crazy out here,” she said about the fans’ reaction. “I think people don’t respect the west side (of the state) for tennis. The east side is like the dominant for sure, so it was nice to prove ourselves in that way – to have everyone believe in us, and that really strengthened us in the matches.”

Crowning team co-champions certainly seemed like the right ending to a season that wasn’t even certain to happen, after COVID-19 cancelled all 2020 spring sports. Both Pioneer and Bloomfield Hills have top-notch squads that also tied, 4-4, during the regular season in a head-to-head dual.

Pioneer totally dominated the singles flights this weekend, and Bloomfield Hills was powerful in doubles. Pioneer swept the singles championships with significant wins by Reese Miller (No. 1), Elsie Van Wieren (No. 2), Mia Goldstein (No. 3) and Bridgette Kelly (No. 4). All four came in as number one seeds, and all four went undefeated against Division 1 competition the entire season.

“I’ve been coaching for 30 years and I’ve had some of the finest players in the state, boys and girls. And I’ve never had a singles lineup like this, and who went through the season undefeated, and undefeated in such ways that you can’t imagine – so few games lost in the season,” said Pioneer coach Tom Pullen.  “Some of them lost fewer than 10 games the entire season. It’s just really astounding.”

Between those four players, during the final matches only Saturday, their game scores totaled 48-8.  Those wins gave the Pioneers an advantage of 30 team points to 27 over Bloomfield Hills, which soon after won the Nos. 1-3 doubles matches for the team championship tie.

“We had to battle today, and I couldn’t be happier (with the co-champs result),” said Bloomfield Hills coach Chris Dobson. “This was an epic performance by the girls. I think we were considered No. 2 all through the season, respectfully, to Pioneer. We had a decisive tie with them before (during the regular season) and frankly we felt co-No. 1 all through the season, so we feel this is a more appropriate (final result) and not as surprising as many others might feel.

“A championship is a championship; there’s no asterisk by it. Pioneer has a powerhouse lineup at singles like I’ve never seen. So, for what we had to do and how we had to battle, to share it with a phenomenal team, there certainly is no shame in that whatsoever.”

Hannah Tomina and Noa Goldstein won No. 1 doubles as the second seed at their flight, while Raegan Tomina and Carly Bernard at No. 2, and Eryn Stern and Natalie Raab at No. 3, entered as top seeds on the way to winning those championships. And Bickersteth and Alberts brought the team four points by reaching the No. 4 championship match, just as key with every point contributing to the eventual shared team title.

Bloomfield Hills tennisMia Goldstein, a junior, is the Pioneers’ captain and looking forward to the future since none of the starting singles players graduate this year.

“I’m super proud of the girls this weekend,” she said as all the doubles matches were still underway. “I know we came in with pretty high expectations, being the No. 1 seeds all the way around. And I know my girls are all fighters, so I knew that even if we were having an off day, we could compete our hearts out.

“I think it’s pretty crazy that we swept singles. I don’t know if it’s ever happened before, but I’m just really proud of everyone and the team spirit we had today.”

Miller, a sophomore, expressed one regret that was out of her control last spring. She didn’t get to play on the team with her older sister, Karina, who graduated in 2020 and now plays tennis at Michigan.

“Having watched my sister play all through high school, I felt pretty confident knowing what to do out here,” she said. “I was pretty confident in everyone coming in, since we’re the No. 1 seeds, we were all undefeated except two losses I had to a really great player (Detroit Country Day’s Julia Fliegner) in another Division (3). That confidence helped all of us, and we all felt that ‘we got this, we know we can do it.’ But I knew we’d still have some tough matches. Everyone (at states) is good.

“My finals opponent (Zoe Angell, Midland Dow) is really good, and our matches this season have been much closer than the final scores indicated. But I was excited. I’ve never played in states before because of last year getting canceled.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Bloomfield Hills celebrates one of its flight championships Saturday at Mason High School. (Middle) Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Reese Miller returns a volley during her No. 1 singles championship win. (Below) Bloomfield Hills’ Hannah Tomina returns a volley during her and Noa Goldstein’s No. 1 doubles title-deciding match. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

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