10 to Remember: Fall 2014

December 12, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This fall saw the start of numerous championship legacies all over the Michigan, the continuation of a few more and the end of one that likely will be recalled for decades to come.

All championship runs are memorable for those fortunate enough to achieve them. But because of historical reference, dramatic impact or in rare cases national significance, some stay in our discussions a little bit longer.

Below is one person’s thoughts on the most memorable finishes from this fall’s MHSAA Finals.

10. Novi, East Kentwood Rise to the Top

Among a number of first-time champions this fall, the Novi boys tennis team and East Kentwood girls golf team celebrated taking final steps after some recent close misses. Novi had finished second at the 2013 Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final, by a point, as Ann Arbor Huron won its third straight title. The Wildcats clinched their first ever this season, by eight points, while the East Kentwood golfers finished 22 strokes better than their LP Division 1 field after finishing 10th and sixth the last two seasons, respectively. Senior Emily White capped her high school career with a 51-foot putt to win the individual title.

9. Saline Clinches on Final Swim

The Saline girls swimming and diving team trailed reigning champion Farmington Hills Mercy by a half-point entering the final event of the LP Division 1 Final. But the Hornets outpaced Mercy by three seconds in the 400-yard freestyle relay to move ahead and claim the team championship by 5.5 points. Saline had finished runner-up to Mercy by 20 points in 2013.

8. St. Mary’s Football Keeps Promise

From an incredible story point of view, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 7-0 win over Muskegon in the Division 3 Football Final was easily the most memorable of the fall. Showing immense courage, Eaglets running back Brandon Adams took the field only two days after his mother died after fighting cancer. He scored the game’s lone points midway through the first quarter.

7. Kestrels Give Coach Best Retirement Gift

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central’s Diane Tuller coached teams to 595 wins over 17 seasons – and in her final match took the Kestrels to their fifth MHSAA championship. St. Mary downed Schoolcraft in four sets despite dropping the first to claim its third Class C title in five seasons. The Kestrels became the eighth team to win at least five MHSAA titles, claiming all five under Tuller’s guidance.

6. Concord’s Hersha Joins Elite Company

Only 14 runners in MHSAA boys cross country history have won at least three individual championships. Concord’s Jason Hersha became the latest, claiming the LP Division 4 title in 15:23.0, the second-fastest time in LP Division 4 Finals history. He became only the third to win three boys titles since team and individual qualifiers began running the same race in 1996; he also finished first as a sophomore and junior. 

5. Canton Never Loses on Division 1 March

Just one on-target kick can change a soccer game. That makes Canton’s undefeated run to this season’s Division 1 boys championship even more impressive. Finishing without a loss in any sport is something – but the Chiefs defeated Rochester Adams 1-0 in the Final to end 24-0-3 and as the 13th undefeated champion in MHSAA boys soccer history. Canton posted 16 shutouts this fall.

4. Spring Lake Surges to First Championship

Despite trailing annual power Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood by six strokes after the first round, Spring Lake rolled through the second at the LP Division 3 Girls Golf Final to best the field by a final margin of 18 strokes and claim the school’s first MHSAA golf championship. The achievement was a crowning one for the program started by George Bitner, who has coached at the school since 1968 and fielded his first  girls team in 1980.

3. Fisher Finishes Among Fastest in MHSAA History

Grand Blanc senior Grant Fisher finished his high school career with a second straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship – and the third-fastest time since the Finals moved to Michigan International Speedway 19 seasons ago. Fisher finished in 14:52.5, 1.5 seconds off the second-fastest time in MHSAA Finals history since 5K (3.1 miles) became the distance in 1980. The only runners who have come in faster than Fisher went on to the Olympics (Dathan Ritzenhein) and top American finishes (twice) at the Boston Marathon (Jason Hartmann).

2. St. Philip Stands Alone with 9 Straight Titles

Battle Creek St. Philip continued its near-decade dominance of Class D, but this time with another historical twist. The Tigers downed Leland in four sets in this season’s Final to win their ninth straight MHSAA championship – setting a record for consecutive titles after formerly being tied with the Marysville teams from 1997-2004. St. Philip entered the postseason ranked No. 3 in D but defeated both No. 2 Mendon and the top-ranked Comets during the final week.

1. Monroe St. Mary Ends Ithaca’s Record Run

Much of the credit for this topping the list goes to Ithaca, which brought a 69-game winning streak into the Division 6 Football Final. The streak was the longest active streak nationally among 11-player football teams, and a win would've allowed the Yellowjackets next fall an opportunity to break the MHSAA winning streak record of 72. But St. Mary controlled the clock with a workmanlike running game and held an Ithaca offense averaging 43 points to nearly a quarter of that in winning 22-12.

PHOTO: The East Kentwood girls golf team raised its first MHSAA Finals championship trophy this October. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Medalist Scott Leads Escanaba Charge Back to Top of UPD1 Leaderboard

By Jack Hall
Special for MHSAA.com

May 29, 2024

CHAMPION – Escanaba is back on top in high school girls golf after winning the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 championship Wednesday at the Wawonowin Country Club. 

The Eskymos won their fifth Finals title since 2016 by defeating last year's champion, Kingsford, by 22 strokes (399-421). Negaunee was third, 23 strokes back (422).

“It's been an up-and-down season,” Escanaba coach Jake Berlinski said. “It's a short season. The girls have worked so hard and in the end of it, we came through. The girls played great when it mattered the most. That's all you can ask for.”

Escanaba was led by sophomore Kamrie Scott, who won the medalist honor by shooting an 83. She was eight shots clear of runners-up Grace Maki (Kingsford) and Abby Dart (Houghton), who both carded 91s.

“This course, there are some holes that are tough, but I think I played it pretty well,” Scott said. “I was hitting them straight, and my putting was good, so things were going well. I was just going for the pin today. I was making putts, so it was working.”

Maki battled over the final four holes to earn a share of the runner-up honor for the Flivvers, and for herself, personally.

“I love this course,” Maki said. “I had some struggles. I had some 6s out there, but I did my best. My best hole was actually No. 2, which I birdied.”

Negaunee's Kennidy Glasheen and Marquette's Abby Luke finished tied for fourth, both with 96s. It was the last U.P. Finals for Luke, who made an impression with a hole-in-one at the 2023 championship tournament held on the ultra-tough Sage Run Golf Course.

Kingsford’s Ela Rizzo sends an approach shot during her round Wednesday. The only other sub-100 score this time around was turned in by Escanaba senior Maddie Wilson, who carded a 97 to finish in the sixth spot. It was her fourth UP Finals, and by far her highest finish on the leaderboard.

“It feels good, but it's a little bit sad,” Wilson said. “I'm glad we were able to pull away for our last year. Personally, for me, I just tried to stay really positive, and not get myself down during a bad shot. And especially tried not to get tired toward the end, because walking 18 holes is a lot. And I really focused on my putting today, which I feel helped me in the long run.”

Kingsford came out of nowhere in 2023 to win its first girls golf U.P. title in school history, and this year the Flivvers rallied down the stretch to take second place ahead of Negaunee. The Miners occupied second spot for most of the round before the Flivvers ended up with the runner-up trophy by one stroke.

“We saw the course was playing tough, across the board; top to bottom, scores were a little higher than normal,” Kingsford coach Ryan Pepin said. “The girls battled right to the end. We weren't sure how it was going to finish up. We're really proud of them. Great season.”

Pepin had just four golfers this year (three seniors and one sophomore), but they still managed to win the majority of their matches in the Great Northern Conference during the regular season.

“Our girls performed well,” Pepin said. “We went to battle every time with only four. Our seniors had great careers, the last two years, especially.”

Negaunee coach Dustin Hongisto said it was a great day for his group of Miners.

“I felt they played awesome,” Hongisto said. “They were just kind of a step back from these (top) teams all year, but all five of them played awesome today. I was really proud of my No. 1 girl, Kennidy. She shot her low round of the year. The fact that they lost by one at the end was a bummer, but I'm proud of them.”

Scott says it felt great to win the individual medalist honor, but she was even happier that the whole Escanaba team pulled through.

“I'm really proud of us,” she said. “We worked really hard this year, and it paid off. Just staying positive, and I think that helped us.”

Fellow Eskymos senior Sophia Derkos, playing in her fourth U.P. Final, summed it up.

“We work really good as a team,” she said. “We're very positive toward each other. There's a lot of hazards on this course, like waters and trees. I was just trying not to hit 'em in it, and it was hard, but we made it!

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Escanaba’s Lilly VanDamme lines up a putt during the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Final at Wawonowin Country Club. (Middle) Kingsford’s Ela Rizzo sends an approach shot during her round Wednesday. (Photos by Jack Hall.)