NORWAY - Both L'Anse and Hancock can consider themselves contenders when they tee it up in an open field for the U.P. Division 2 golf championship today.
The Purple Hornets claimed their only victory of the season when they had a 331 to win the 15-team Norway Invitational back on May 15.
Tristan Leaf of the Hornets was the medalist that day with a 1-over 73.
L’Anse’s Tristan Leaf watches his shot into the fourth green during Friday’s Bulldog Invitational at Portage Lake Golf Course. Hancock’s Tanner Kearly watches behind at right. Both compete in the Division 2 U.P. Finals today. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
Norway and Iron Mountain were both within 10 shots of the lead that day and will surely be in the mix today. The Knights posted a 344 in winning the Mid-Peninsula Conference meet at Wawonowin Country Club outside Ishpeming last week, led by Austin Hansen's 79. The Mountaineers were third with a 356.
Though L'Anse was fourth in the final WestPAC meet of the season Friday at Portage Lake Golf Course, the Purple Hornets' total of 347, albeit in much better conditions than the M-PC teams faced, puts them firmly in contention.
Hancock had an off day in its first trip to Norway, posting a 346 to finish tied for eighth. However, the Bulldogs have one WestPAC win (at Calumet Golf Club) to their credit and a string of solid finishes in league play.
The Bulldogs' best golfer May 15 was Tony Fisher, who shot 82.
Furthermore, this group has been in contention at this level many years in a row now. The Bulldogs finished second in the 2012 meet on much less familiar territory at Newberry Country Club, and the team that walked away with the trophy, St. Ignace, is now in Division 3.
Hancock won U.P. titles from 2009-11, with the 2010 crown coming in a similar one-year dip into Division 3.
On the girls' side, L'Anse's Alyssa Norback appears to be one of the individual favorites. She shot an 88 to make a three-way playoff with Houghton's Megan Kelly and Bailey Raffaelli last Friday and has emerged as the league's best female golfer not from Houghton.
In addition, major competitors have yet to make themselves known. The M-PC, from which a majority of the D-2 field will come, had only one golfer break 100 for 18 over poor conditions at Wawonowin: Iron Mountain's Katelynn Johnson, who had a 97.
The Mountaineers had a team total of 435 that day, while the Purple Hornets combined for a 445. None of the other M-PC teams, including defending champion Westwood, were under 500.