Announcements and Important Events
There’s no question that Ariel Chang is the leader of Eisenhower’s girls golf team.
Not only did she shoot two-under par 70 to run away with medalist honors at the Division 1 regional Wednesday at Cherry Creek Golf Club, but she was instrumental in getting the Eagles prepared to defend their regional championship.
Last weekend, after Eisenhower finished second in the Macomb County Invitational, Chang urged her teammates to get out and practice so that she wouldn’t be alone at the state finals on Oct. 16 at Forest Akers East in East Lansing.
“I was rooting for them,” Chang said after the Eagles finished first with a team score of 360. “I wanted them to practice a lot and make sure they practiced over the weekend to give us our best chance.”
Coach Jerry Griesbeck didn’t downplay Chang’s contribution.
“There were a lot of things that went into this championship, but that was as important as any of them,” he said. “Ariel is a great leader.”
Troy Athens took second place overall with a score of 369 and Stoney Creek qualified for the state finals for the fifth straight year with a 374.
Dakota’s Bryn Duncan was the top individual qualifier for the state meet with an 81. The Cougars’ Helen Buk, Sarah Himmelsbaugh of Romeo and Megan Luke of Stevenson each shot 91 and Buk and Himmelsbaugh won the three-way playoff for the final qualifying spot.
Griesbeck felt Eisenhower would be in a fight to qualify as a team.
“We looked at this today as a very difficult situation to be in,” he said. “We were happy the state opened it up to three teams. That kind of gave us a window. I thought we were going to struggle but Alexis (Sharplin) and Hannah (Hubert) really shot well and that made a big difference. And Ariel is Ariel.
“I’m happy for them as a team They bonded together and understood the situation and went out and did it.”
Another key for the Eagles was the recent emergence of Riley Dupka and Ria Patel as the fourth and fifth players in the lineup.
“They’ve improved their game at least 10 to 15 strokes over the last three weeks,” Griesbeck said.
Athens was a team on a mission after finishing just out of the final qualifying spot a year ago.
“It was a goal to make states after we missed as a team last year by a handful of strokes,” said Red Hawks coach Daniel Cooper. “I told them, ‘just remember this.’ We came into today confident. We won our division in the OAA, we won the Oakland County D2 tournament, we were undefeated in our league. We had many, many positives this year.
“We played well and we had to play well to finish second. We get to go as a team, which we haven’t done since 2014.”
Athens was led by sophomore Olivia Hemmila, who shot 84. She was followed by freshman Ava Weeks (88), Miranda McKee (96) and Amelia Lin (101).
“They shot pretty much what they’ve shot all year,” Cooper said. “I’ve got three sophomores, a freshman and a senior. The future looks good.”
Stoney Creek coach Tony Lafferty was probably the happiest to see the state expand the regional qualifying field last week from two teams to three.
“Very much so,” he said. “We were looking at that coming in. I thought if it stays at two, it’s going to be real tight. We’re thankful it opened up to three.
“It was a tough track and tough conditions with the wind kicking up but the girls played great from top to bottom. Our normal number five scorer was our second today. We got some help from the back end. They’re young so it’ll be great to get them some experience at states.”
Addie Delcamp led the Cougars with an 86, followed by Rebekah Drake and Olivia Chittick with 94s and Marisa Kelley with 100.
Chang, who shot a 66 at last week’s county tournament, said conditions were tougher for the regional.
“The wind was really swirling around,” she said. “You couldn’t tell which way it was blowing and whether it was going to stop or start up again. You’d look at the trees and they’d be going in circles. I threw grass up in the air and just based it on that. Sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t. One time on my tee shot the wind picked up in the middle of my backswing and it went too far and into the hazard.”
Chang said she started with a par and two bogeys.
“I leveled out to even around the 16th hole,” she said. “I ended the day with three birdies so that helped my score.”
Chang barely missed an eagle on the fifth hole when her 10-foot putt lipped out.
Chang is looking forward to her final state high school tournament.
“I played Forest Akers East this summer and shot a 62, which is the lowest score ever in my lifetime,” she said. ‘I’m really excited to go back there and see what I can do. My goal this year is to win states.”