By John Vrancic
Special for Second Half
ESCANABA — The third try was the charm for DeTour junior Madison Wilkie on Thursday as she earned the Upper Peninsula Division 3 girls golf championship for the first time.
Wilkie, who was runner-up the past two years, fired an 85 at the Escanaba Country Club on this sunny and mild day.
“I think today I was a lot less nervous,” she said. “I’ve been here before and played quite a few rounds on this course. Being familiar with the course helps a lot.”
Wilkie became the first DeTour golfer to be crowned U.P. champion since 2007, when Erin Worden captured the Division 3 title.
Cedarville claimed the team championship for the first time in four years with 402 strokes, followed by DeTour with 434, Munising 460 and two-time reigning champion Bark River-Harris 465.
Wilkie started with a 45 on the front nine, then lowered her score to 40 on the back.
‘I could have done better on the front nine,” she added. “Before we got on the back nine, I told myself I could play a lot better. I started hitting my shots more solid. I was getting better contact with my irons, especially on my approach shots. My tee shots were pretty consistent.”
Cedarville senior Annie Eberts was runner-up at 89. DeTour junior Kaalin Crawford placed third with a 94.
“This is the third time I played here for the Finals,” said Eberts, who shot 97 the past two years. “In the past when a hole didn’t go my way, I would get mad and that’s the worst thing you can do. I stayed calm this time. When a hole didn’t go my way, I just focused on the next hole. I practiced a lot this year. I wanted to end on a good note and help our team. We all worked hard, did our responsibilities and pulled our weight. Madison is a very good player and deserves to be champion. She works hard at her game, too.”
The golfers were greeted by temperatures in the mid 60s and a gentle breeze from the south.
“It was a beautiful day to play,” said Crawford. “You just had to pay attention to the wind. I thought the greens were in perfect shape, and my short game was working pretty good. Taking second as a team will definitely motivate us for next year.”
All four DeTour golfers are juniors.
“The girls played well all year,” said DeTour coach Keli Kelly. “Madison had been close the past couple years and finally sealed the deal today. Us and Cedarville had been the main competition in our area all season. This is a tribute to the girls and all the hard work they do.”
Cedarville has three juniors and an eighth-grader, with Eberts its lone graduate.
“The biggest key is all the girls performed better than in previous meets,” said Cedarville coach Dewey Lopes. “Annie plays real well. She was in a slump earlier, but came through big-time. Our eighth-grader (Lily Freel) also did well under pressure. We’ll graduate Annie. Everybody else will be back, but she’ll be hard to replace.”
Chassell freshman Marli Hietala took fourth at 97, followed by Freel at 98 and Cedarville junior Elissa Griffin at 100.
Junior Bailey Downs was Munising’s leader in seventh (101) and BR-H senior Hannah Starnes was eighth (103).
“I’m very proud of our girls,” said Bark River-Harris coach Scott Farnsworth. “They’ve worked very hard all year. Golf is one of those sports in which every day is different and each year the competition changes. Cedarville and DeTour are very strong teams. There’s pretty good competition all the way around in D-3.”
Painesdale-Jeffers junior Julia Nordstrom in ninth (106) and Big Bay de Noc junior Ariel Cousineau (108) rounded out the top 10 individual placers.
Click for full results.
PHOTOS: (Top) DeTour's Madison Wilkie tees off on No. 10 at Escanaba Country Club during Thursday's Final. Wilkie, a junior, was the tournament's medalist with an 85. (Middle) Cedarville's Lily Freel watches her putt catch the lip of the hole on No. 6. Freel, an eighth grader, took fifth overall with a 98. (Photos by Amanda Chaperon.)