By Burt Angeli
Special to Second Half
IRON RIVER — Iron Mountain’s girls gave their coach a nice parting gift Thursday in the MHSAA U.P. Division 2 Golf Final at George Young Recreational Complex.
The Mountaineers of Coach Donny Bianco, shooting 444, successfully defended their U.P. title, topping Ishpeming Westwood, 482, and West Iron County, 513, in the limited girls field.
“It was nice to go out on top in my last year,” said Bianco, who will leave coaching to become the elementary school principal. “This is such a nice group of girls that played hard and got better every week, and that’s what it’s all about.
“It’s really enjoyable. I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls.”
Cassie Feira, U.P. runner-up medalist last year, led the Mountaineers with a 104. That score was good for third behind medalist Margo Brown of St. Ignace, 98, and Alyssa Norback of L’Anse, at 102.
Westwood’s Lauren Farley, at 105, and Iron Mountain’s Kathryn Brown, 106, completed the top five.
“We had no real big surprises,” Bianco said of his Mountaineers. “Our number one Cassie has been shooting well all year, and she shot around her average.
“Catherine Brown played a little better than her average.”
Lexi Verrette and Libby Brown completed Iron Mountain’s championship lineup. The Mountaineers’ next coach will find the lineup intact with three juniors in Feira, Pirkola and Kathryn Brown and two freshmen in Verrette and Libby Brown.
Margo Brown, who helped the Saints reach the Class C Basketball Final, fired a 51 over the front nine and 47 on the back.
“I guess I played good enough,” said Brown, U.P. Division 3 medalist last year and Division 2 runner-up two years ago. “I just wish I had played a little better.
“Yesterday I had a good practice round, and today wasn’t my best game at all.”
The junior birdied the 357-yard fourth hole.
“I chipped pretty well and my driver was pretty good,” Brown said.
Norback, playing in the same group with Brown and Feira, registered 50-52 for runner-up medalist. The senior, one shot out of a medal playoff last year, parred the 357-yard fifth hole at George Young.
Brown and others cited the course conditions and sunny weather. The rough winter appeared to only affect a couple areas.
“The course is in really nice shape, and I was surprised,” Brown said. “We came here a couple weeks ago and it was snowing.
“I was really happy with the course conditions. The greens are very nice and pretty receptive.”
Noted tournament director Mike Berutti, coordinating his first U.P. golf tourney: “It was a great day for golf.”
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PHOTOS: (Top) L'Anse's Alyssa Norback tees off during Thursday's U.P. Division 2 Final. (Middle) Iron Mountain’s Marti Pirkola looks over a putt by Ishpeming Westwood’s Lauren Farley. (Photos by Burt Angeli.)