This Time, Kingsford Reigns Alone

By John Vrancic
Special for

October 2, 2013

KINGSFORD — There were tears of sorrow, then tears of joy among some Kingsford High School tennis players as they were crowned MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 champions with 18 points Wednesday.

Negaunee, which shared last year’s title with Kingsford, was runner-up this time with 14. Third-place Escanaba had nine.

Kingsford reached the title round in all eight flights, but won only two.

“It was kind of bittersweet,” Kingsford coach Mark Shanks said. “None of our eight seniors won their flights. My daughter’s No. 1 doubles (seniors Anna Shanks and Kate Lamy) and No. 3 singles (senior Santina Bianco) went down today. This was the first loss in more than two years for Santina – although our three juniors won.

“We talked all week since the GNC (Great Northern Conference) meet how the U.P. Finals would be a different situation with single elimination. Had any of our kids lost in the semifinals, it would have meant no points in that flight. Our biggest challenge was getting to the finals without zeroes. That assured us of scoring at least 16 points.”

Juniors Ali VanRemortel and Jaelyn Jennings provided the Flivvers with their first championship in No. 2 doubles, taking a 7-6 (8-6), 6-0 decision from Negaunee senior Kylee Taavola and junior Hanna Kantola.

“We tend to start slow, but we always stay positive,” VanRemortel said. “We just forget about our mistakes and play our game. We played a more conservative first set because we hadn’t seen them since the beginning of the season.”

Taavola-Kantola, often attacking the net early in the match, built leads of 3-0 and 4-2 in the first set.

They led for the final time at 6-5. But the Flivvers then tied the score by taking advantage of a pair of double faults prior to pulling out that set.

“It took a little while for us to adjust to what they were doing,” Jennings said. “They were playing very well. In the break between the first and second set, we could tell we were coming on and we weren’t going to let up. It’s awesome to feel this way. There was definitely some pressure coming in here as the favored team. We knew everybody was coming after Kingsford.”

Kingsford junior Janay Walters earned the No. 2 singles crown with a 7-5, 6-3 triumph over Negaunee senior Abbi Kill.

“We were about even (in ability) and hustling after the ball really helped,” Walters said. “I’ve gotten better at recovering after every play. Thankfully, I was able to keep returning the ball. I knew I had to bring my A game. It’s tough to play Abbi because she’s very good with her placement of the ball, and her shots are hard and solid.”

Negaunee junior Allison Carlson finished a perfect season with a convincing 6-2, 6-0 victory over Kingsford senior Hannah Tresedder in No. 1 singles.

“I just tried to be consistent and be in position when she came to the net,” said Carlson, who also plays hockey for the Marquette Sentinels travel team. “She came to the net a lot, so I wanted to hit the ball deep. She’s a good player. It’s always a good match when I play her.”

At No. 3 singles, Negaunee sophomore Angie Ring topped Bianco 6-4, 6-1.

“As a whole, I’m proud of our girls,” said Negaunee coach Kyle Saari. “We knew it was going to be a battle with Kingsford. Anytime you have seniors in the U.P. Finals, you never know what’s going through their minds with this being their last high school match. For Angie to come here as a sophomore and beat a senior who hasn’t lost in more than two years is a great effort on her part. Allison is a true athlete. Athletes like her know how to grind a point out. They just find a way to get the ball over the net.

“We have a fairly young team and (we’re) pleased with being runner-up. You’re dealt a new hand every year, and that’s what’s fun about high school sports.”

Negaunee also claimed No. 4 singles where junior Dana DeBretto topped Kingsford freshman Katy Hicks 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Escanaba junior Olivia Berquist and senior Shelby Gregoire took No. 1 doubles in a 6-2, 6-1 conquest of Kingsford seniors Anna Shanks and Kate Lamy.

“We kept playing strong this year,” said Berquist, who teamed with Gregoire for the No. 4 doubles crown last season. “This is very different from No. 4 doubles because it’s a lot harder. The team we just played has been in No. 1 doubles since they were sophomores. We just found a way to push through it.”

This marked the first time in five meetings this year the Berquist-Gregoire duo beat Shanks and Lamy.

“We went three sets with them in the GNC meet (on Sept. 25),” said Gregoire. “The first time we played them, they blew us out of the water. Since then, we had gotten a little closer each time. The momentum we gained from winning the first set was huge. This is the best way to end my senior year, for sure.”

In No. 3 doubles, Escanaba junior Olivia LaForest and sophomore Emily LaFave outlasted Kingsford seniors Megan VanPembrook and Taylor Jacobson 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) for the title.

“A lot of it is we’re learning to relax and take it one point at a time,” said LaForest. “The will for us to win this after beating them in the GNCs was huge. We kept telling each other and ourselves we could do it. This may be a game of physical challenge, but much of it is mental.”

LaFave had similar thoughts.

“We just wanted to be a little more patient,” she said. “We tried to let the game come to us. It’s really fun playing with Olivia. She keeps my spirits up when I’m down, and I try to keep her spirits up when she’s down.”

Marquette took the remaining flight (No. 4 doubles) with sophomores Brenna Leafers and Aubrey Reynolds-Erspamer defeating Kingsford seniors Abby Johnson and Kelsey Bennett 6-2, 6-7, 6-1.

Click for full championship match results. 

PHOTOS: (Top) Kingsford's Anna Shanks sends a shot back toward Negaunee during the No. 1 doubles semifinal match on Wednesday. (Middle) Escanaba's Johanna Snowden swoops in to defend a spike from Menominee's Molly Jackson during their quarterfinal match at No. 1 singles. (Photos by Keith Shelton for Second Half).

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