By Mark Meyer
Special for Second Half
EAST LANSING – Spring Lake may have fallen short of one of its goals this weekend, but it hardly mattered much after the defending MHSAA champion put the finishing touches on a command performance at Forest Akers West golf course.
The Lakers fashioned rounds of 325 and 336 (661) to win their second straight Lower Peninsula Division 3 crown by a mere 70 strokes over runner-up Goodrich, which rallied with a 357 on Saturday to finish at 731, two strokes ahead of third-place Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (733).
Detroit Country Day (735) and Warren Regina (747) rounded out the top five.
Spring Lake coach George Bitner said his team had hoped to break 320 in one of its final rounds.
“That’s what they were aiming for because they usually set the bar pretty high,” Bitner said. “But we can’t be too disappointed. Last year we trailed after the first day and stormed back to win.
“This year we had a super start (on Friday) and were able to keep some distance between us and the challengers.”
Spring Lake junior Anna Kramer – whom Bitner fondly referred to as “the franchise” during the medals presentation – carded back-to-back rounds of 77 to claim medalist honors by three strokes (154-157) over Olivia Reed of Carleton Airport. Spring Lake senior Kayla Krueger shot 76-82-158 to edge Danielle Staskowski of Pontiac Notre Dame by one stroke for third place.
“I’m very proud of our team,” Krueger said. “We were confident coming into the weekend, and I knew we could handle the playing conditions no matter how difficult they might be.
“We usually play better on the second day of a tournament but it didn’t quite work out that way this time. But yet we played well enough to win and that, for us, was the most important part of the weekend.”
Sophomore Madelyn Nelson (84-85), senior Emma Conroy (88-98) and sophomore Hannah Klein (103-92) completed the scoring for the Lakers, who three times this season shot tournament rounds of 321.
Afterwards, the ageless Bitner marveled at his team’s commitment to practice and improvement.
“They never stopped working, all season long,” said Bitner, 78, who started coaching boys golf at Spring Lake in 1968 and founded the school’s girls golf program in 1980. “Putting, chipping, sand play, driving, iron play: you name it, they worked on all phases of the game all year long.
“Plain and simple, they’re golfaholics. They all love the game, love to practice. And a real fun group to coach. They make my job pretty easy.”
The Harding sisters – senior Taylor and junior Sydni – led Goodrich’s second day charge to second place in its first full year in varsity competition. Sydni Harding shot 80 on Saturday to go with an opening round of 82 to finish in a tie for fifth place individually with Ali Martus of Wayland Union (83-79-162). Taylor Harding placed sixth with rounds of 83 and 82.
“What can I say, we had a great weekend,” said Goodrich coach Jason Bescoe. “Super proud of these girls for what they have accomplished. Aaron Monroe knocked almost 20 shots off her score from the opening round, and it was that type of improvement that made a huge difference for us.”
Sophomore Kate Cao shot 86-89-175 to lead Cranbrook Kingswood, the Division 3 runner-up in the previous three LPD3 Finals.
Click for full results.
PHOTOS: (Top) Spring Lake won its second straight MHSAA LP Division 3 title. (Middle) Goodrich finished runner-up in its second full season as a program. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)