Lady Eagles qualify for fourth straight State Finals
by Head Coach Doug Schneider
This fall has been unusually warm and pleasant in Mid-Michigan, but not on this day when the State Regionals were scheduled to take place. The rain was heavy, starting the night prior to the event, and didn’t stop until around 2:30pm the next day. Many of the other regional venues canceled the night prior. The event was delayed three hours to give the golf course some time to remove some of the standing water, but it was still cold, windy and raining when the teams headed out to the course. They finished about 11 holes by the time the rain stopped. The wind had been constant all morning, but it picked up considerably after the rain stopped, gusting to up to 30mph. Tough weather to score well, but the Lady Eagles were up for the challenge, and determined to get back to their fourth straight State Finals, and sixth in the last eight years. No personal-bests were shot on this day, but they met their goal by placing a strong second at the event.
The host school, Shepherd, won the event with a team score of 410. Frankenmuth was only 16 strokes behind with a 426, missing out on their third straight Regional Championship. The third place team, and last to qualify, was Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart with a 463. Fellow TVC teams St. Louis and Chesaning just missed qualifying by only two and three strokes, respectively. Nouvel, joining the TVC next year, also just missed out by tying St. Louis with a team score of 466. The other teams were Central Montcalm placing seventh with a 475, Garber finished eighth with a 476, Caro was ninth with 490, 10th place was Valley Lutheran with 510, and Ithaca in 11th place with a 522. Bath and Lakeview did not qualify as teams since they only played single individuals.
Maple Creek was a new golf course for the Lady Eagles, a course they had never competed on yet, with every hole having unique features to challenge the golfers. Each hole had large elevation changes and/or different length dog-legs to maneuver. You could not see the pin from the tee box on about half of the holes. There was water, heather or forest on every hole.
Given the conditions and challenges, the Lady Eagles posted solid scores, led by Senior Shelby Schneider. Shelby placed as a top-five Regional Medalist for the second consecutive year by shooting a 100, eight strokes above her season average. Shelby, who has an offer to play collegiate golf at Saginaw Valley State University as well as some Division 3 schools like Albion, was excited to play well at her last Regional, but needed to use patience given the conditions and the challenge of the new course. Shelby got into trouble on a couple holes on the front nine and posted a 52. She turned it around on the back nine shooting a couple pars and shooting a 48, even with the heavy wind.
Junior Sophia Lee, the only other player on the team with state tournament experience, showed that experience by posting a strong 105, a couple strokes below her season average. Sophia finished in the top 10 placing ninth overall. She also had a couple of holes where she got into trouble on the front nine, but maintained her composure and finished the front with a 54. Sophia noted at the turn that she felt confident she could improve on the back nine, and she did, with a 51. Sophia has a low driving trajectory on most of her shots with a lot of power to cut through the wind, perfect for that type of windy weather.
Junior Hannah Wenzel, playing in her first-ever Regional, came ready to play shooting an impressive 108, only two strokes off her personal best, and nine strokes below her season average. Hannah has such great energy in everything she does, and she does it without fear. Given the way she attacks life every day, I don’t think she even noticed the weather. I noticed early on that she was striking the ball well, and her confidence carried on through the whole round. I think Hannah was the only player on the course smiling and having fun on the back nine. It was a joy seeing her making shots all day and loving golf. She has worked hard and has really helped the team as a result.
Next was freshman Ella Smith. Of course, she is playing in her first state tournament. She too has a great attitude and confidence, even as a freshman, shooting an impressive 113, right at her season average. She is familiar with these events, since she has spent a couple years following her older sister, Grace, around the courses during the last two state finals. Like her teammates, she also improved as the day went on shooting a 59 on the front with a 54 on the back, with a par on the tough par-3 11th hole.
Sophomore Katelyn Piesko, also playing in her first state regional carded a 117. Katelyn had a solid front nine shooting a 52, right at her average, but struggled on the back shooting a 65. Katelyn has also been working hard all season and I see her ball striking improving every day. Like her teammates, she has a great determination to improve and great attitude during the round. Her game is well suited for the Michigan State University course we will be playing at the Finals.
I couldn’t be prouder of our Lady Eagles. They showed outstanding mental and physical toughness given the weather and the length of the day they had to endure. They were up and ready to make the long trip to Shepherd at 6:30am, then had to wait out a three hour delay. Then the round took over six hours to complete. It wasn’t easy, but they endured, and it resulted in achieving one of their team goals for the season, to represent Frankenmuth and get a chance to play at the Michigan State Finals.
Five Lady Eagles earned TVC All-conference awards this season. Senior Shelby Schneider finished tied for third in the conference overall and achieved First-team All-conference. This is Shelby’s fourth straight all-conference award, with the last three all being first-team.
Junior Sophia Lee finished seventh overall in the conference achieving Second-team All-conference. This is Sophia’s second consecutive Second-team All-conference award.
Sophomore Katelyn Piesko finished eighth overall in the conference, achieving Second-team All-conference as well. Katelyn was also Honorable Mention All-conference last year as a freshman.
Freshman Ella Smith finished 12th overall in the conference achieving Second-team All-conference in her first season on varsity.
Junior Hannah Wenzel finished 15th overall and was awarded Honorable Mention All-conference.
Congratulations, Lady Eagles! And thank you to all of our generous sponsors who made this opportunity possible.