Survive and advance.
That was the motto of the Northville boys golf team heading into Wednesday’s MHSAA Division 1-District 9 tournament held at Pine View Golf Course in Ypsilanti.
And it was mission accomplished as the Mustangs finished fifth.
The top six teams earning a berth into the Wednesday, May 27 regional tourney at Dearborn Country Club includes district champion Plymouth, which finished with a four-player total of 309, followed by Canton (311), Ann Arbor Huron (315), Ann Arbor Skyline (317), Northville (323) and Saline (335).
Not making the cut was Ann Arbor Pioneer (340), Ypsilanti Lincoln (353), Salem (373), Belleville (428) and Wayne Memorial (485).
“I think the boys were a little disappointed in the way they played today,” Northville coach Jeff Balagna said. “As team we have really been playing well as of late, but today’s round we just couldn’t find our rhythm. The good thing about the state tournament is you just have to play well enough to advance, and that is what we did. I told the boys that our focus was just to finish in the top six. The next round is when we need to be firing on all cylinders. Top three at regionals qualify for the state finals, and I think we have a realistic chance to make it if we play our ‘A’ game.”
Canton’s Noah Lindlbauer took individual medalist honors with a 74, while Northville’s top finisher was freshman Abhi Alluri, who took 12th overall with a 79.
“Abhi was steady all day,” Balagna said. “He had a few hiccups with his putter, but his ball striking was outstanding.”
Meanwhile, older brother Akhil Alluri, a senior, was 14th overall with an 80.
“Akhil has been very steady all year,” Balagna said. “He started slow, but sure has come on the last four weeks. I have been waiting for him to make that jump since his freshman year, but he was behind some very talented golfers. He is one of the leaders on this team and he making the most of his opportunity. He struggled around the greens, but was able to scramble and put together a solid day.”
Rounding out the Mustangs scoring contingent was sophomore Aaron Youmans, who took 17th with an 81, along with senior Jacob Pierce, who placed 23rd with an 83.
“Aaron started the year on JV due to a broken wrist suffered during hockey season, so he has only started to come on as of late,” Balagna said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of him and any time you get an 81 out of your fifth man you have to be pleased.
“Jacob played one of his best rounds of the year, but his score doesn’t show it. He played 16 beautiful holes and two horrible. If it wasn’t for two holes his score would have been much lower. But he was able to keep his composure and didn’t let the bad holes get to him.”
Another freshman who did not factor in the team scoring for Northville was Jimmy Dales, who carded an 85 to placed 25th overall.
“Jimmy struggled to find the fairway, which is usually his strong suit,” Balagna said. “Pine View is not a place where you can spray the ball, and he did that a little today.
“Both of our freshman are having outstanding rookie seasons. They have gone back-and-forth as our low score in 18-hole tournaments all year. You never know what to expect when you play freshman at this level, but both guys handled the pressure well.”
Balagna believes Dearborn Country Club is suited more for lower scores.
“It is a little more open so that will help us,” he said.