By BURT ANGELI
I.M. Daily News
IRON RIVER - Iron Mountain's girls and Hancock's boys showed no signs Thursday of relinquishing their MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 golf titles.
Iron Mountain’s Marti Pirkola looks over a putt by Westwood’s Lauren Farley during the Upper Peninsula Division 2 girls golf finals Thursday. Farley shot a 105. (Photo by Burt Angeli of the Iron Mountain Daily News)
The defending champions dominated the opposition at George Young Recreational Complex. Medalists Margo Brown of St. Ignace and Tristan Leaf of L'Anse also retained top honors.
The Mountaineers, 444, topped Westwood, 482, and West Iron County, 513, in the limited girls field.
"It was nice to go out on top in my last year," said Iron Mountain's Donny Bianco, who will leave coaching to become an elementary school principal.
"This is such a nice group of girls that played hard and got better every week, and that's what it's all about. It's really enjoyable. I couldn't ask for a better group of girls."
Cassie Feira, U.P. runner-up medalist last year, led the Mountaineers with a 104. That score was good for third behind Brown, 98, and Alyssa Norback of L'Anse, 102.
Westwood's Lauren Farley, 105, and Iron Mountain's Kathryn Brown, 106, completed the top five.
"I guess I played good enough," said Brown, the U.P. Division 3 medalist last year and Division 2 runner-up two years ago. "I just wish I had played a little better.
"(Wednesday) I had a good practice round and today wasn't my best game at all."
A birdie on the fourth hole helped Brown shoot a 51 on the front nine. The junior finished with a 47.
"I chipped pretty well and my driver was pretty good," Brown said.
Lexi Verrette and Libby Brown completed Iron Mountain's championship lineup.
In the boys' side of the U.P. tournament, Hancock, 327, stormed past Norway, 346. The difference was one stroke between those two teams in last year's U.P. tournament.
L'Anse, which had one golfer take ill Wednesday, matched Norway's score, but missed out on the second-place trophy after the tiebreaker.
"The kids played great today," Hancock coach Joe Gervais said. "It was definitely, overall, a team effort.
"All of the scores were pretty tight and close together which is a testament to how hard these guys push each other in practice."
Leaf led the way with a six-over par 78, followed by Norway's Justin Anderson at 80.
Hancock seniors filled four of the next six spots - Matt Sanregret at 81 (37 front nine), Kyle Hauswirth (38 back nine), and Tanner Kearly and William Lucier at 82. Tony Fisher is the fifth member of the Bulldogs.
Ray Miron of L'Anse shared third with Sanregret. Max Maloney of West Iron County was among the group at 82.
Leaf overcame a double bogey on No. 8 and triple bogey on No. 17.
"I just told myself if I stay away from that I should be OK," Leaf said of his front nine difficulties. "I was playing pretty good and my putting was good. I just needed my iron shots to get down.
"My drives were OK, but they should have been better."
The senior, medalist last year and third two years ago, carded matching 39s for his round. He registered back-to-back birdies before the "triple" on No. 17.
Norway's Anderson also survived an early triple bogey to garner runner-up medalist.
"Then I started making some pars with a birdie here and there," Anderson said. "That got my confidence back. I made a lot of putts and I was chipping pretty good."
The junior had two rounds of 40. Knights' Austin Hansen, 84, and Bryce Kelly, 85, also turned in solid scores.