By Mark Meyer
Special to Second Half
EAST LANSING – Birmingham Seaholm found itself in an unenviable position Saturday morning, 17 shots off the Division 2 Girls Golf Final lead at Forest Akers East and facing an uphill climb against an Okemos team brimming with confidence.
Throw in some swirling rain, a brisk wind and temperatures in the 40s, and the Maples certainly had plenty of ground to cover if they had hoped for a repeat of their 2008 title.
Based on the way they kept their composure throughout the weekend – and with three of their five starters coming back next season – the Maples have plenty to look forward to in the coming years.
Senior Megan Lam keyed the second-day surge with a medalist round of 78 as Seaholm surged to a 1-stroke victory over Okemos, 663-664. The Maples outshot the Chieftains 320-338 Saturday thanks in large part to the play of sophomore Allegra Cunningham (79), junior Jamie Greene (81) and sophomore Jordan Michalak (82).
And, even though her score didn’t count toward the team total, senior Rylie Miller (84) closed out her high school career by chipping in for birdie on the 18th green – over the sand and into a hole that she could not see.
“I can’t tell you how amazing (of a comeback) this was,” Miller said. “After yesterday we were so upset. We went home afterwards and went to the football game against Groves (a 28-22 league title-clinching win for Seaholm) and that really pumped us up. We came out ready to win.
“To go home (Friday night) and watch our classmates celebrate that victory helped us so much. It was amazing.”
Seaholm assistant coach Cathie Fritz said the object was to have fun and block out the negative thoughts, no matter the conditions.
“Muddle through the weather,” Fritz said, “find some fun out there and hit shots, despite the pouring rain and the freezing cold. We had to find the fun in being on the golf course.”
Lam, one of two co-captains along with Miller, credited her father for an overnight tip that made a difference in her game.
“He told me my first putts had to be better,” Lam said. “I had to lag the ball closer to the hole and make as many two-putt greens as possible.”
Lam, a four-year starter for the Maples, said the weather was not a huge factor for her.
“Having played at states for four years, you kind of expect it and prepare mentally so that it doesn’t mess up your game,” Lam said. “It was really a pretty normal day for me.”
As it was for Okemos senior Elle Nichols, who became only the second player in Lower Peninsula history to win three individual MHSAA titles.
Nichols overcame a poor start – two double bogeys in the first three holes that put her 7 over par through six holes – to shoot 79 for a two-day total of 155, three shots ahead of Lam.
“I knew I had to go low on the back nine,” said Nichols, who closed with a 35, “and the birdie at 10 (capped by a 60-foot putt) helped get me started.”
The third individual trophy, however, couldn’t make up for the disappointment of a runner-up team finish.
“This team worked very hard to get to this position,” Nichols said, “and we wanted to finish it with a title.”
Sophomore Jessica Kim (81-83), junior Sydney Williams (82-89) and senior Carly Bullock (87-87) completed the scoring for the Chieftains, who finished third as a team in 2012.
“We had a terrific season,” said Okemos coach Dan Stolz. “We won our conference for the third year in a row, won a Regional and had a great day (Friday) to start the two-day tournament.
“But we started (Saturday) playing pretty crummy, Seaholm made up a lot of shots early and maybe we got a little tight. But then we came back and played much better on the back nine. We didn’t shoot a terrible score for the way the course was playing; they (Seaholm) just played better and deserved to win.”
Sisters Stephanie Carras (freshman) and Kharissa Carras (senior) both finished among the top 10 individuals to lead Midland Dow to a third-place finish with a team total of 695. Stephanie carded rounds of 79-80 while Kharissa, playing in the lead group with Nichols and Lam, shot 86-82.
Prior to the beginning of the awards ceremony, Fenton sophomore Madi Shegos received special mention for her hole-in-one Friday on the par-3 18th hole.
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PHOTOS: (Top) Birmingham Seaholm’s Jordan Michalak celebrates after chipping in for a birdie. (Middle) Okemos’ Elle Nichols finished first individually for the third straight season, tying at MHSAA record. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)