By Matt Schoch
Special for Second Half
BATTLE CREEK – Mother Nature kept extending the illustrious high school golf career of Traverse City West’s Anika Dy on Saturday.
But all good things must come to an end.
More than eight hours after teeing up at Bedford Valley Golf Course, Dy sank the final putt of her even-par 72 round to earn her third straight MHSAA Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals Division 1 title by six strokes.
It came on a blustery and rainy fall Michigan day that tested the resolve of golfers across the state and caused more than two hours of delays in Battle Creek.
“You can’t complain about it or whine about it. You just take it for what it is and be positive,” Dy said. “It was hard, not going to lie. It was a mental grind more than anything.
“Yeah, it was rainy, cold, windy, snowy, whatever, but It’s up (in your head) where it’s the hardest.”
Dy finished at 4-under 140 for the two-day event, which was weather delayed twice Saturday.
Northville dominated the team competition, closing an undefeated season by topping Kensington Lakes Activities Association rival Plymouth by 31 strokes.
Northville shot 312 on Saturday, combining with a 318 from Friday for 630.
In the week leading up to the tournament, Northville coach Chris Cronin asked the Mustangs to share a reason for why they were playing in the Finals.
“Every girl that’s playing on the state team sent back the note that they’re playing for their teammates,” Cronin said. “That was huge. I knew at that point we couldn’t lose because that’s what you shoot for as a high school coach.
“They’ve been close like that all year. That’s what made it really just extraordinarily special.”
Northville was led by sophomore Nicole Whatley, who took fourth as an individual after shooting even-par 72 despite the conditions, tying Dy for the day while playing alongside her in the final group.
“We’re definitely really close,” Whatley said about her team after carding four birdies on Saturday. “We’ve been so close together, non-stop, every single day. We just fell in love with the game and each other.”
The title was the Mustangs' first. But Northville will be the team to beat next year, as Mariella Simoncini is the lone graduating senior.
Simoncini, who said she will sign next month with Oakland University, took 13th with 163. Junior Sufna Gill tied for fifth at 155, sophomore Katelyn Tokarz tied for 20th at 168, and junior Sedona Shipka tied for 25th at 170.
Led by Dy, TC West, the reigning champion and winner of two of the previous three championships, took third at 664, three shots behind Plymouth.
Meanwhile, Dy joins four other Michigan high school golfers to win three individual Finals championships since the MHSAA began sponsoring the sport in 1973. The others are Maple City Glen Lake’s Nichole Cox (2014-16), Okemos’ Elle Nichols (2011-13) and Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Kate Loy (1993-95) – and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s Danielle Staskowski won her third Division 3 championship Saturday.
The final round for the University of Michigan commit, who plans to sign with the Wolverines next month, was not without its tough moments.
On hole seven, Dy aggressively went for the par-5 green on her second shot, ending in a greenside bunker.
Dy then went up and down from there, nailing a 15-foot putt for her second of two birdies on the day and seventh for the tournament.
“I hit that clutch putt,” Dy said. “It was not a day for birdies, so I really treasured that one.
“I think that was one of those moments to keep the momentum going.”
Then, after the second weather delay, Dy had trouble finding her ball among the leaves on the 16th hole, although she eventually tracked it down – on the fairway, of course.
She managed to par, then did the same on 17 and 18 to close her career and a season where she won every event but one, a tournament in Alpena where she was nudged by her younger sister, Anci Dy.
“The one on 18 I’m going to remember for a while, because I knew it was my last hole as a high schooler,” Anika Dy said. “It was like 8 feet, it wasn’t an easy putt, and I made it and it just felt really good.”
Dy, the two-time reigning Miss Golf recipient by the Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association, could become the first player to win the honor three times.
After missing out on a Finals title as a freshman by one shot, Dy won by two shots in 2016, eight shots last season and topped second-place Mikaela Schulz, a senior from Bloomfield Hills, by six shots Saturday.
Utica Eisenhower sophomore Ariel Chang, who shot 1-under 71 on Friday, took third at 148. Whatley was fourth at 149, and her teammate Gill, a junior, tied Anci Dy – Anika’s sophomore sister from TC West – for fifth at 155.
“It’s been so much fun,” Anci Dy said of playing with her sister. “I’m going to miss her.
“I don’t think she has a bad bone against anybody here, ever. She’s just so supportive. She’s very humble, which is something a lot of us just admire her for.”
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PHOTOS: (Top) Northville’s Nicole Whatley watches an approach during Saturday’s second round of the Division 1 Final at Bedford Valley. (Middle) Anika Dy follows through on a shot on the way to claiming her third individual Finals title. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)