L'ANSE - It was a clean sweep for Houghton golf Thursday at the WestPAC's L'Anse Invite, as the Gremlins earned both team titles, led by both medalists.
The boys beat rival Hancock 331 to 346, with Calumet and host L'Anse just behind at 353 and 356, respectively.
Gremlin freshman Gunnar Stein, playing as the fifth golfer on the five-person team in his first varsity golf meet, shot the lowest 18-hole score of the day with a 78. Calumet's Reese Lassila and L'Anse's Tristan Leaf each fired 79s, just a shot back of Stein.
Houghton’s Megan Kelly lines up a putt on the first hole during Thursday’s L’Anse Invite at the L’Anse Golf Club. Kelly earned medalist honors on the girls’ side of the WestPAC meet with a 39 over nine holes. (DMG photo by Stephen Anderson)
"That's quite the way to break in," Houghton boys' coach Jack Kumpula, who was also filling in for girls' coach Corey Markham Thursday, said of Stein. "Gunnar is so steady - that's his forte. He's always straight and down the middle. That helped him today."
That was Kumpula's advice for his whole team: "Keep it simple, straight and down the middle. Don't try to do too much."
Wyatt Liston (82), Brendan Longhini (84) and Seth Kaarto all also finished under 90 for the Gremlins, who only had one outdoor practice Tuesday at their home Portage Lake Golf Course before having meets Wednesday and Thursday.
Houghton (331) - Gunnar Stein 78, Wyatt Liston 82, Brendan Longhini 84, Seth Kaarto 87.
Hancock (346) - Tanner Kearly 85, Kyle Hauswirth 85, Tony Fisher 88, William Lucier 88.
Calumet (353) - Reese Lassila 79, Bryce Johnson 84, Kaden Kangas 92, Austin Rilei 98.
L'Anse (356) - Tristan Leaf 79, Raymond Miron 86, Andre Richards 88, Brett Martinez 103.
West Iron County (369) - Austin Waara 88, Riley Thomson 89, Alec Schmelebeck 93, Kyle Maki 99.
Ironwood (390) - Jon Erickson 91, Luke Hewitt (98), Jake Kavinsky 99, Bryant Rowe 102.
Houghton (182) - Megan Kelly 39, Bailey Raffaelli 46, Noelle Polakowski 48, Kenna Farrey 49.
Ironwood (232) - Korrie Trier 50, Maighlin Kolesar 52, Rachel Pallin 61, Caitlin White 69.
L'Anse (234) - Alyssa Norback 41, Rebecca Oger 58, Breanna Dudo 67, Jess Rossi 68.
Calumet (235) - Allison Darnell 57, Valerie Darnell 58, Rachel Darnell 60, Megan Yeo 60.
West Iron County (293) - Megan Eagloski 70, Erin Angeli 70, Lauren Hawkins 76, Megan Quayle 77.
"It's been a really short, short spring, wreaking havoc on golfers in particular," Kumpula said. "The kids are working off instinct."
The Gremlin girls sure were. The two-time defending Division 1 Upper Peninsula golf champions cruised to victory Thursday, combining for a 182, a staggering 50 shots ahead of second-place Ironwood (232). As wide as the gap was between first and second, second through fourth was about as close as it could get, with L'Anse shooting its way to a 234, followed by Calumet's 235.
It was the first WestPAC girls' meet of the year, and defending All-U.P. golfer Megan Kelly picked up right where she left off, garnering medalist honors with a 39 over nine holes. Three of her Gremlin teammates, Bailey Raffaelli (46), Noelle Polakowski (48) and Kenna Farrey (49) also broke 50, something only one other golfer from the other four schools - L'Anse's Alyssa Norback (41) - accomplished. Even No. 5 golfer Addison Cook, whose score didn't count toward the team total, pitched in a 53, which, aside from her teammates was the fourth best score among the 19 other girls.
"The girls are just so consistent week in and week out," Kumpula said.
Unfortunately, because the long-lasting winter weather was so persistent week in and week out, the abbreviated WestPAC golf season will all come down to Tuesday's meet at PLGC, as determined by the coaches Thursday. Usually U.P. Finalists are determined through a series of meets.
"The whole conference championship will come down to Tuesday," Kumpula said. "... (Thursday) was a good tune-up."