HOUGHTON - After medaling in Negaunee earlier this week, Tanner Kearly doubled down Friday, posting a 75 to win the Hancock Invitational as Portage Lake Golf Course opened its gates to the local high school golf teams one day early.
Kearly's steady round led Hancock to a team victory as well, with the Bulldogs topping Houghton 317-330 in the first local meet of the year. The Gremlins had claimed the team victory at the Negaunee Range Bank Invitational Tuesday by four strokes.
Kearly said the key to his early success has been eliminating expectations. He is simply trying to put a good swing on each shot before moving on to the next hole.
Hancock’s Tanner Kearly tees off on No. 10 during the Hancock Invite Thursday at Portage Lake Golf Course. He was medalist for the day with a 75. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
"I'm just taking what the course gives me," Kearly said. "Not being able to play for so many months, I'm just not really putting any expectations on myself to shoot a certain score. In years past I've focused on trying to get good scores but this year I am more relaxed out there."
Slotted as Hancock's No. 2 golfer behind Kyle Hauswirth, Kearly believes the internal competition with five golfers capable of breaking 80 on any given round has helped him focus each day.
Hauswirth finished third Friday with a 78 - Jeffers' Tyler Bailey took second with a 77 - while fellow Bulldog Anthony Fisher cracked the top 10 with an 81. Teammates Matthew Sanregret (83) and William Lucier (85) finished off the lead quintet with more-than-respectable scores.
at Portage Lake Golf Course
Top 10 (medal winners): 1, Tanner Kearly, HAN, 75; 2, Tyler Bailey, JEF, 77; 3, Kyle Hauswirth, HAN, 78; 4, Gunnar Stein, HOU, 79; T5, Wyatt Liston, HOU, 80; T5, Bryce Kelly, NOR, 80; T5, Kyle Maki, WIC, 80; T5, Raymond Miron, LAN, 80; T9, Anthony Fisher, HAN, 81; T9, Tristan Leaf, LAN, 81.
Hancock 317 - Tanner Kearly, 75, Kyle Hauswirth 78, Anthony Fisher 81, Matthew Sanregret 83.
Houghton 330 - Gunnar Stein 79, Wyatt Liston 80, Brendan Longhini 15, Jeremy Chaney 22.
West Iron County 335 - Kyle Maki 80, Max Maloney 82, Riley Thomson 85, Alec Schmelenbeck 88.
Jefffers 337 - Tyler Bailey 77, Stephen Butina 86, Zach Nicholas 86, Alex Outinem 88.
Norway 338 - Bryce Kelly 80, Austin Hansen 81, Justin Anderson 85, Mike Schalow 92.
L'Anse 343 - Raymond Miron 80, Tristan Leaf 81, Brett Martinez 87, Andre Richard 36.
Calumet 356 - Austin Rilei 85, Ethan Larson 87, Trevor Salata 89, Damon Kangas 95.
Ontonagon 363 - Logan Jilbert 82, Mitch Borseth 25, David Polard 92, Mark Linna 101.
Chassell 390 - Patrick San 91, Jordy LaTendresse 91, Dax Durocher 97, Matt Marshall 111.
Ironwood 401 - Luke Hewitt 97, Jon Erickson 100, Jacob Kavinsky 102, Robert Burchell 102.
Lake Linden-Hubbell 416 - Coy Budweg 93, Cole Beauchamp 98, Mitcehll Kumpula 108, Dustin Provost 117.
Top 10 (medal winners): 1, Megan Kelly, HOU, 85; 2, Noelle Polakowski, HOU, 87; 3 Adison Cook, HOU, 93; T4, Alyssa Norback, LAN, 96; T4, Kirsten Codere, LLH, 96; 6, Valerie Darnell, CAL, 102; 7, Taryn Kaurala, HOU, 104; 8, Allison Darnell, CAL, 107; 9, Rachel Darnell, CAL, 115; 10, Abby Domitrovich, ONT, 117.
Houghton 369 - Megan Kelly 85, Noelle Polakowski 87, Adison Cook 93, Taryn Kaurala 104.
Calumet 443 - Valerie Darnell 102, Allison Darnell 107, Rachel Darnell 115, Kelsey Fink 119.
L'Anse 502 - Alyssa Norback 96, Breanna Dudo 126, Taryn Taisto 137, Paige Risku 143.
Ontonagon 512 - Abby Domitrovich 117, Cori Weisinger 125, Bailey Aho 130, Taylor Saari 140.
Jeffers 558 - Cora Rajala 126, Lauren Huotari 132, Julia Nordstrom 146, Katri Rajala 154.
Sometimes it is more productive competition trying to match and beat your friends than opponents.
"It is nice, because even when we practice daily everybody is within a shot or two of each other and you can really drive each other," Kearly said. "I'm not looking to beat them really - I'm happy when they do well - but we all kind of push each other."
On the girls side, Houghton continued its run of success with a runaway team victory while Gremlin top golfer Megan Kelly (85) held off a spirited charge from teammate Noelle Polakowski (87) to take the medal by two shots. Kelly placed second at PLGC last year in the Division 1 U.P. Finals with an 82.
Houghton's total of 369 cleared runner-up Calumet by 74 shots.
Kelly said her consistency helped carry the round as she put in a 41 on the front nine and 44 on the back end. Polakowski made a run for the medal with by shooting a 39 on the back nine, but couldn't quite close the gap.
"I'm just trying to remember what kept me successful last year and trying to stay in the zone," Kelly said.
"You definitely have to keep the cold out of your mind," Kelly added of the 40 degree temperatures.
Both Kelly and Kearly agreed that success at Portage Lake is pretty straight forward.
Hit fairways consistently, sink a few putts and the course opens up nicely.
"If you find fairways and give yourself a chance to hit greens you are going to have a good round," Kearly said. "The greens are pretty fast, so you have to putt as well."
"Keeping the ball straight is pretty much the key at this course," Kelly added.