Ontonagon boys, girls repeat as D3 U.P. golf champions

GLADSTONE — North Central freshman Bryson Mercier made his first trip to the Upper Peninsula Division 3 Golf Finals a successful one here Thursday as he earned medalist honors with 74 strokes.

“I played real good today,” he said. “I had been struggling the past week, but made it stress free today. I was nervous coming in, then I settled down after parring the first hole. It got a little windy and a little hard in the end, although I thought I handled it very well. Like any sport, there’s always room for improvement. I’m going to practice as much as I can and try to get better.”

Ontonagon retained its title with 347 strokes, followed by Dollar Bay 357 and North Central 370.

The Ontonagon girls also won for the second straight time at 418, followed by Cedarville 429 and North Central 438.

“Both teams have a lot of senior leadership which is absolutely helpful,” said Ontonagon coach Adam Spaulding. “We had just three meets coming into the Finals due to poor weather. We had to make up for lost time. It took a lot of practice and hard work. Our practices consisted of hitting buckets of balls between two holes. We couldn’t get on our course (Ontonagon Golf Club) until about May 15.”

This marked the second straight runner-up finish for the Cedarville girls.

“The girls did good today,” said Cedarville coach Rob Freel. “Runner-up, we’ll take that anyday. We have no seniors on either team which is encouraging. Our No. 1 and 2 boys’ golfers are sophomores. I think we’ll be competitive next year. We enjoy coming over here. We come Wednesday morning and have a practice round and a nice outing. I’m real happy with how our girls played. I’m proud of all the kids.”

Ontonagon senior Ed Polakowski and Big Bay de Noc sophomore Travis Johnson shared boys’ runner-up honors at 84.

“It was crazy taking it two years in a row,” said Polakowski. “I didn’t think we’d be here again this year. We always stay consistent and play a decent game. The front nine was rough, but I pulled it together on the back nine.”

Ontonagon sophomore Tomas Immonen and Dollar Bay senior Drake Schmitz and junior David Storm tied for fourth at 85. Carney-Nadeau junior Max Baumler and Ontonagon senior Brad Mhyren shared seventh with 88.

Cedarville junior Lily Freel regained her title with 85, followed by North Central junior Jadie Linder 97 and sophomore teammate Ava Eichhorn and Mackinac Island junior Makenna Horricks at 100.

“There were some rough holes,” said Lily Freel, who was runner-up last year after winning as a freshman in 2017. “I had quite a few bogeys. I just kept telling myself to do the best I can and focused on the next shot. I birdied the last hole on both nines. It felt great to finish strong and win it. I was kind of disappointed last year, but that just made me work harder.”

Linder was happy to be runner-up after placing third a year ago.

“The last two years have gone pretty well,” she said. “The back nine went pretty rough today. I struggled with my short game. I couldn’t hit my irons. Then, I figured out my irons on the front nine and started feeling better about the way my game was going. Lily had a phenomenal round. It means a lot to me to take second.”

Eichhorn was also pleased with her finish.

“I was pretty consistent,” she said. “I had a few bad holes, but I was close to par through the tournament. I think this will be a motivator for sure.”

Mid Peninsula junior Kennedy Englund finished in a fifth-place tie with Ontonagon senior Whitney Rule, Cedarville sophomore Lauren Miller and Mackinac Island sophomore Ella Cowell at 102.

Ontonagon senior Isabelle Lutz and sophomore Ella Menegoz tied for ninth at 104.

“Our girls have been shooting around 105,” said Spaulding. “We knew what they brought to the table. We were beating some D-1 schools in our three meets. We knew we could compete.

Lily just shot a great round.”