By Tom Kendra
Special to Second Half
EAST LANSING – It certainly wasn’t the first time Birmingham Seaholm senior Jamie Greene had shot par in a tournament.
But given the magnitude of the stage at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final, and the bitter cold and gusty playing conditions on the already-challenging Forest Akers West course, Greene’s sterling, even-par 72 is certainly the round of her life.
At least so far.
Greene’s career round, which was three shots better than anyone else in the field Saturday, helped defending champion Seaholm increase its big lead over the final 18 holes for a 660 team total and a dominating 37-shot victory over runner-up South Lyon.
“It’s just a great way to end my high school career,” said Greene, who will play golf next year at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. “We really, really wanted to win as a team, and being state medalist has been a goal of mine for a long time.”
South Lyon, led by the sister trio of senior Caroline Harding (159), junior Priscilla Harding (169) and freshman Elizabeth Harding (179), placed second at 697. St. Joseph took third at 707, followed by Okemos (721) and Midland Dow (722).
Greene, the lone senior among Seaholm’s top five players, rallied past junior teammate and first-round leader Allegra Cunningham for medalist honors.
Caroline Harding, who will play college golf on this same Forest Akers course for Michigan State, placed third at 159. Midland Dow sophomore Stephanie Carras was fourth at 162, and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central senior Evon Shay took fifth at 164.
“I’m thrilled with Jamie Greene,” said Cathie Fritz, Seaholm’s co-head coach along with Leon Braisted. “She was disciplined, she played everything to the nines. I am thrilled that it finally came together for her within her high school career.”
The 1-2 punch of Greene and Cunningham gave the Maples, who each wore maroon maple leaves on their cheeks for the Final, a decisive edge on the rest of the field. But a steady finish by the Maples’ supporting cast ensured that no other team would catch them from behind.
Cunningham was second for the Maples at 157, six strokes behind Greene. Rounding out the scoring for Seaholm were juniors Jordan Michalak (167), Annie Trotta (185) and Cate Joelson (187).
“This turned out so much better than we hoped. We knew our one, two and three players would play strong, but we are thrilled our fourth, fifth and sixth players really rallied,” Fritz said. “They really rallied, they had never played in this cold of weather, or this soft of a course, but they came through for us today.”
While the end result was the same as last fall, Seaholm’s route to the title could not have been more different.
The Maples needed a near-miraculous Saturday rally last year, charging from 17 shots back after the opening round to nip Okemos by one stroke. This year, Seaholm found itself in the opposite position with a 15-shot lead going into the final round.
Recalling their own charge from a year ago, the Maples proved to be unflappable front-runners this time, with the highest score out of the Seaholm five a respectable 93.
Birdies were an extremely rare commodity on both days of the 36-hole stroke play tournament, with a steady wind of about 15 mph blowing out of the northwest. But Greene was able to make a pair on Saturday – on the par-3 7th hole and the par-5 13th hole – en route to her even-par score.
Greene attributed her stellar round to her year-long focus on course management and her positive attitude about the weather.
“I enjoy playing in bad weather, because it keeps me focused,” said Greene, who is a member at Detroit Golf Club. “I left my driver in the bag most of the day, and I was hitting my 4-iron off the tee. The best part of my game today was my iron shots into the greens.”
With the back-to-back titles for Seaholm, which now has four MHSAA girls golf titles in school history, only two schools have won Division 2 championships since 2008. Mona Shores won four consecutive from 2009 to 2012, and now the Maples have won the past two.
Fritz said her team will be motivated to pursue a “three-peat” next fall with a solid, large nucleus of players returning.
“We have 40 players over four teams, with only one key senior,” Fritz said. “We will build all year long. We’re going to push hard.”
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PHOTOS: (Top) Birmingham Seaholm poses with its championship trophy after repeating as winners of the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final; individual medalist Jamie Greene holds the trophy. (Middle) Seaholm’s Allegra Cunningham, also the individual runner-up, watches a shot Saturday. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com).