The Lakeview High girls’ golf team’s fall colors tour on Michigan courses will end exactly where the Spartans had hoped.
Back at the MHSAA Division 2 state championship tournament at The Meadows Golf Course at Grand Valley State University.
Led by co-individual medalist Danielle Little’s score of 77, third-ranked Lakeview placed first at a 12-team D-2 regional at Stonehedge North Golf Club in Augusta on a brisk and extremely-windy Thursday morning and afternoon to qualify for a berth in the Oct. 19-20 finals in Allendale.
The Spartans won their second consecutive regional in scorecard-tiebreaker fashion. Both Lakeview and Okemos had 340s, but the Spartans’ fifth-person score was better than the Chiefs’ fifth-person score.
Aside from the 77 by senior Little (Okemos’ Ellie Nichols also had a 77), Lakeview received a fifth-place-overall 82 from junior Megan Strole, a 90 from junior Amanda Noakes, and 91s from seniors Sarah Vocke and Lexi Popovich.
The third-and-final state qualifying team was East Lansing with a 350, and host Gull Lake was fourth with a 376. Blue Devils sophomore Cydney Martell, however, qualified for state as an individual as she was second lowest among players not on state qualifying teams with an 86.
“We came into this regional not necessarily looking to place first, but just to finish in the top three in order to get back to state. The fact that we won the regional is great, though, especially considering the tough weather conditions with the cold and the strong winds out there today,” said Lakeview coach Tony Evans, whose squad — along with all the other squads — got a late start to the morning due to overnight low temperatures that frosted the greens.
“Danielle had an outstanding effort today under the circumstances, Megan was outstanding … and then there was Lexi coming through for us with her best round of the season, a round that wound up helping us win this regional against an Okemos team we’d already lost to handily in a couple of invitationals earlier this season. I’m proud of all of our kids … and now we’re just glad to be heading back to state and hopefully finishing in the top five or six there.”
Little — instrumental in helping LHS capture its sixth straight All-City, SMAC East and SMAC Big 16 crowns earlier this campaign — said the wind gusts of 30-plus mph that blew into her and the other competitors’ faces on certain holes at Stonehedge on Thursday actually, in a strange way, enabled her to play better.
“With the wind being what it was today, I really had to pay more attention to my game and the way I was shaping my shots off the tee and toward the greens. It was definitely one of the windier days we’ve played in this season,” said Little, a key member of last fall’s LHS squad that placed tied for fourth at state.
“There’s always a lot of pressure on us to perform well … but today we tried not to put too much pressure on ourselves and we just wanted to go out there and play solid golf. We did that, and after going out there and just wanting to finish in the top three, it was nice to win it all.”
Strole said Lakeview’s first-place effort Thursday was “just awesome.”
“I think there was a lot of pressure on us to do well, and we were a bit nervous deep down. But we managed to go out there and shoot a good team score,” Strole said.
“The wind out there, it was something that affected us every hole. Personally, what I did was just to try to make sure that I double-checked the wind on each and every shot — throwing grass up into the air to get a better read on the wind and its direction — to be certain I was selecting the right club. And by doing that, I wound up having a pretty good round today. And as a team, we did well enough together to win.”
Aside from the state-meet-qualifying 86 from Martell, Gull Lake — which placed second to Portage Central in the SMAC Central this season and fifth in the SMAC Big 16 — received an 89 from senior Allie Baird (an 88 or lower was needed for the third-place playoff), a 100 from freshman Jenna VandenBerg, a 101 from senior Hadlee Hoeksema, and a no-count 106 from senior Alexis Sommerfeld.
MORE REGIONAL GOLF
* At a D-1 regional at Sunnybrook CC in Grand Rapids on Thursday, the Battle Creek Central/Pennfield co-op team had a score of 533 and did not qualify for state. The Bearcats’ individual totals were 105 for Pennfield senior Megan DeHart, a 128 for Pennfield senior Ashlynn Horvath, a 145 for Pennfield senior Amber Chapin, a 149 for BCC junior Samantha Prescott and a no-count 190 for BCC junior Paylend Swartz.
* And Marshall placed third as a team and Harper Creek senior Jozlin Johnson was a top-three individual state qualifier at a D-3 regional at Angels Crossing GC in Vicksburg on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, Coldwater junior Anna Wendorf defeated Vicksburg’s Abby Stasik in a one-hole playoff for the third-and-final state qualifying spot. The D-3 finals will take place at Battle Creek’s Bedford Valley Golf Club (a member of the Gull Lake View chain, along with Stonehedge) on Oct. 19-20.