FHS golfers take 4th place at state finals
Meg Watkins finishes 2nd individually
The Frankenmuth varsity girls’ golf team played with experience, mental toughness and determination as it took fourth place at last weekend’s MHSAA Division 4 state finals in East Lansing.
The Lady Eagles shot a team score of 373 on Friday and 369 on Saturday for a combined 36-hole tally of 742. The course was Forest Akers West.
Macomb Lutheran North, last year’s state final’s runner up, won the match with a score of 666. They had all five starters returning this year. Livonia Ladywood was second at 702 and Kalamazoo Hackett was third at 715. Fellow Tri-Valley Conference school Freeland was ninth at 795.
“The team accomplished one of their largest goals, to make it back to the MHSAA state finals for the third straight year,” FHS Coach Doug Schneider said.
FHS finished in third place in 2015 and have qualified for the state finals five times in the program’s nine years of existence.
The weather was perfect on Friday, considering it was mid-October. The round was delayed due to frost but once it burned off, the conditions were very playable. Day one saw scores in the low 40s, however, Forest Akers has some very challenging bunkers near the greens and that slowed the team on the back nine.
“Our first day total was 373, well below our season average of 383, but far off Lutheran North’s outstanding 335. The team was accepting the fact that the title was out of reach at that point, but I could tell that the sixth place finish didn’t set well,” Schneider said.
Day two was warmer, however, the wet air and misty rain made it feel cooler than Friday.
“The next morning, I could tell our team was going to be ready. There was a very quiet, calm but confident attitude in our whole team. There weren’t any players with nervous wide eyes . . . they were Eagle eyes,” Schneider stated. “I could tell there was no fear in their shots - just determination.”
The day two overall score improved by four strokes, to 369, but it held up well against the competition around us given the weather . . . cold, wet and heavy winds. ‘Muth passed Jackson Lumen Christi, who shot 378 on day two, and Almont, who shot 382 on Saturday.
It was a special day for senior Meg Watkins, who finished the tourney tied for second place individually, shooting 78 and 76 for a total of 154. This was the second straight season Watkins took second place behind medalist Nichole Cox from Maple City Glen Lake, who carded a 72/78 for a 150. Cox won three state titles and she will play for Bowling Green. Watkins, who finished among the top 10 players all four seasons, is committed to Xavier University.
Senior Grace Smith was second on the team, shooting 96 and 95 for a 191 total. She placed 33rd out of 108 players in the event.
“It was great to see her great performance given her short two years with the team. Her score was a big improvement from the previous state finals where she shot a pair of 108s.
Junior Shelby Schneider recorded a 99 and a 93 for a 192 score. She tied for 34th overall.
“Shelby’s 93 was her best performance at the state finals to date and was the 24th best on the day,” Schneider noted.
Senior Hannah Turk came in the clubhouse with a 100 and a 105 for 205.
“Hannah’s score doesn’t reflect how well she played overall. She was striking the ball extremely well, however, some of the greenside bunkers can be challenging,” Schneider said.
Turk did make the shot of the day on hole No. 7. She was 10 feet below the green in a greenside bunker, with the ball tucked close to the front edge of the bunker. With a vicious swing, but perfect technique, the ball popped up softly above the cliff and landed near the pin.
“The crowd was amazed and loved it,” Schneider recalled.
Sophomore Sophia Lee played in her first state finals and finished with a 113-105 for a 218 total.
“Sophia was driving the ball extremely well on the long course. She has worked hard to improve in that area and it showed. Sophia will be a strong asset to the team next year. With her combination of athletic talent, and determination for improvement, I know she’ll come back stronger next year,” Schneider said.
“It was great to see where our program has arrived. You could see it in all of our players’ demeanor. It was as if each of them had the total confidence internally with the reality that this is Lady Eagles Golf. We belong here. This is what we do. Compete against the best teams in the state,” Schneider concluded.