Westwood, Munising Star Shine Again

September 28, 2017

By Ryan Stieg
Special for Second Half

ISHPEMING – The Westwood girls tennis team has built a dynasty in the Upper Peninsula, and on Wednesday, it added another title to its trophy case.

It wasn’t easy though. After sharing the title with Munising last season, the Patriots had to hold off Iron River West Iron County at the end and edged the Wykons by one point at 17-16 for the Division 2 championship. Westwood has won eight of the last nine U.P. titles in its division.

“This was just a successful year,” Westwood head coach Chris Jackson said. “Heading into this year, we had to replace nine girls and we weren’t sure where we would be. I think most people thought this was going to be a rebuilding year, but we had some girls step up big for us.”

Munising took third at the meet with 10 points followed by Iron Mountain (8) and Ishpeming (5).

Westwood was led by its doubles teams as it won three of the four final matches including a three-set thriller by the tandem of Karlie Kargela and Karlie Patron at No. 1 (7-5, 4-6, 6-4). The Patriots also had two-set wins at both No. 3 with Hailey Mattila and Katelyn Anttila and No. 4 with Ellie Miller and Kaylee Larmour, while West Iron’s Emily Nelson and Avery Bosiek took the No. 2 match.

For West Iron County, it was a disappointing day as the Wykons were in six of the final eight matches but only picked up two victories. West Iron was in a similar situation last season and head coach Joe Serbentas said his team was determined to make up for that this year. However, it just wasn’t meant to be.

“We were disappointed last year, so the girls worked really hard to get back here and they wanted it badly,” Serbentas said. “I thought we really put ourselves in a good spot with seeds today to come out and win.”

On the singles side of the court, it was Munising’s time to shine. The Mustangs won the Nos. 1 and 2 matches thanks to strong performances by the Ackerman sisters, Marissa and Kelsea. Marissa won the No. 1 match over West Iron’s Katarina Serbentas, and Kelsea defeated Iron Mountain’s Jordan Stoner in the No. 2 competition. Marissa hasn’t lost a match in three years.

“Our singles have been the strength of our lineup all year,” Munising head coach Rod Gendron said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough depth today with doubles to win the title, but I’m very proud of how the girls competed. They’ve had some tough matches and on days like this, people are playing their best, so it’s not easy to win.”

Gendron also praised both Ackerman girls and explained how even though they may be related, their styles are completely different on the court.

“They both have a lot of experience and they both have been U.P. champs, so they know what it takes,” he said. “They do not give up no matter what the score is. They keep fighting and they make you earn everything. Marissa is a little more competitive, while Kelsea has nicer strokes. Marissa will do anything to win like throwing lobs or ugly shots while Kelsea is a more classic style player with good strokes and a strong serve. That’s the big difference between the two.”

Westwood and West Iron split the other two matches. West Iron’s Izzy Hoogenboom won the No. 3 match over Munising’s Kennedy Tate, while Westwood’s Tessa Leece took the No. 4 match over West Iron’s Anna Malmquist.

“Tessa hasn’t gotten a lot of publicity this year, and that’s hard as a No. 4 because everyone wants to talk about the No. 1s,” Jackson said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody as composed as Tessa. No matter what the scenario, she maintains her composure, competes at a high level and learns from her mistakes.”

Ishpeming’s lone appearance in the finals was at No. 3 doubles where Audrey Stetson and MaKenzie VanBuren fell to Mattila and Anttila. Even though it wasn’t the day they were hoping for, Hematites head coach Erl Langness saw some positives in his team’s performance.

“We won the spots where we had seeds,” he said. “Madison Pruett had an excellent match against the girl from Munising (Marissa Ackerman) and our No. 1 doubles also had a good day. They lost to West Iron in three sets. It was a pretty good day. We would’ve like to do better, but we did okay. I think we’ve made a lot of progress since the beginning of the year.”

In the end though, the day belonged to Westwood. And even though the outcome came down to the wire, Jackson liked it that things turned out that way.

“Close matches like these make the tournament fun,” he said. “It came down to how the finals went, and that’s how it should be.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Munising's Marissa Ackerman returns a volley during a No. 1 singles match Wednesday at the U.P. Division 2 Finals. (Middle) Westwood's Karlie Kargela returns a shot at No. 1 doubles. (Photos by Rachel Oakley.) 

Lacrosse Finals Move to U-M Among Headlines as Spring Sports Ramp Up

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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