As the teams were heading down the back nine toward the clubhouse at Dearborn Country Club on Tuesday afternoon during the Division 1 Golf Regionals, Dexter coach Greg Palkowski paused for a moment to make a prediction.
“It’s going to be close, right down to the last hole,” said Palkowski. “We are in a real battle with Woodhaven for that third spot.”
Palkowski was spot on – in fact, it came down to the last shot on the last hole – as Dexter and Woodhaven contended for third place and another weekend of golf.
The Dreadnaughts fired a team score of 325 and beat the Warriors by a single stroke and will join Skyline and Saline on June 11-12 at Forest Akers West in East Lansing for the D-1 State Finals.
As expected, Skyline led the way in dominating fashion at the D-1 Region 6 tournament. The Eagles, the top-rated team in the state, won their third straight Regional title with a team score of 287, 27 shots better than runner-up Saline.
All five Skyline players shot 76 or below led by two freshman, Vibhav Alokam (70) and Ieuan Jones (71) along with senior Vimal Alokam (71). Junior Luke Richard shot a 75 and sophomore Mitchell Strickland fired a 76 – which would have been the best score on 11 other teams.
Skyline’s 287 was a school-record round for 18 holes and was an amazing 1-under par. All five Eagles finished among the top 10 individual scores.
The prestigious Dearborn Country Club, with its tightly wooded fairways and immaculate greens, offered quite the test on a perfect day for golf. And many of the players brought their ‘A’ games, especially Jackson High School’s Justin Bunch. The senior fired a tournament-best 69 to claim top individual honors.
The top three teams – Skyline, Saline and Dexter – advance to the state finals along with the top three individuals not on those teams – Bunch, Woodhaven’s Evan Bliss (73) and Bedford’s Gaige Keane (74). The field at the State Finals will include 18 teams and 18 individuals for a total of 108 golfers.
The rest of the scorecard at Dearborn’s Regional was Bedford fifth (338), Pioneer sixth (342), Huron seventh (343), Jackson eighth (347), Wyandotte ninth (355), Dearborn 10th (383), Monroe 11th (386), Edsel Ford 12th (410), Lincoln 13th (422), Belleville 14th (466) and John Glenn 15th (477).
Skyline Coach Ashley Mantha was named Regional Coach of the Year. And she used the final results as a teaching lesson – maybe a hint to her team heading to East Lansing.
“Look how close it was with Dexter (325) and Woodhaven (326),” said Mantha. “One stroke! Shows you can never give up as one team stroke decided the difference today for a team moving on to States and another having their season end today. We all have bad shots, but you rally and recover, not snowball your play down into giving up.
“We all toughed out some less than ideal spots/shots today. I’m proud of those recovery moments.”
Dexter was led by senior Jack Kolka, who fired a 75 on the day. Four other Dexter players kept their scorecards below 90 – Dom Sortor (80), Joey Fracassi (81), Niko Michos (89) and Lucas Koone (89).
Every shot counts and Dexter made sure every shot counted.
Following Bliss and his brilliant 73 for Woodhaven were Elijah Saco (76), Dylan Young (77), Luke Crapanzano (100) and Jace Weimer (101).
Senior Junah Whitelocke and junior Ben Nickodemus both shot an 81 to lead the improved Pioneers. Freshman Eric Shen carded an 85, freshman Morgan Lyle shot a 95 and senior Jack Ceccacci had a 98.
Huron’s Brendan Baidel had an impressive round. The junior fired a 76 and came within two shots of joining the three individuals heading to States. Huron senior Peter Hagan had an 84 for the River Rats. The rest of the Huron scorecard featured senior Lute Smith (91), junior Kyle Messer (92) and senior Timothy Hamill (108).
Photos by Terry Jacoby