HOUGHTON - Kicking off a span of three meets in three days, the Houghton boys and girls pulled out a double victory at the Sandretto Invitational at Portage Lake Golf Course Wednesday, fighting through wind, rain and rust in a joint WestPAC and Copper Country Conference meet.
The Ontonagon boys (353) won the CCC side of affairs with a narrow two-stroke victory over Jeffers while Calumet's Reese Lassila took home the boys medal with an industrious 74 on the 18-hole course and Houghton's Megan Kelly (87) enjoyed the only sub-90 score for the girls on the day.
The WestPAC teams will be in Calumet today before heading back to the PLGC Friday for the conference tilt.
Houghton’s Bailey Raffaelli tees off during Wednesday’s Sandretto Invitational golf meet at Portage Lake Golf Course. Raffaelli shot a 93, the second-best individual score, as the Gremlins won the meet. (DMG photo by Michael Bleach)
The 45-hole binge of golf comes after a long spring of inactivity as poor Copper Country weather delayed most of the season. According to Houghton boys coach Jack Kumpula, Wednesday's meet was only the fifth time his team had teed up on an actual course all year long.
"This is our third meet, and on the course, we have had two practices," Kumpula said. "So we haven't even been out for a full week yet. I mean, we did some things inside, but to me, until you get on the course you are kind of wasting your time. You can only hit into the net for so long."
Combined with a collective shaking off of rust, the Sandretto challenged the locals' focus Wednesday thanks to constant drizzle and windy conditions.
WestPAC Boys - 1, Reese Lassila, CAL, 74; 2, Kyle Hauswirth, HAN, 76; 3, Tristan Leaf, LAN, 77; 4, Brendan Lunghini, HOU, 79; 5, Seth Kaarto, HOU, 79.
Houghton 322 - Wyatt Liston 84, Brendan Lunghini 79, Cole Hagwell 80, Seth Kaarto 79.
Hancock 326 - Tanner Kearly 80, Kyle Hauswirth 76, Matt Anregret 83, William Lucier 87.
Calumet 346 - Reese Lassila 74, Bryce Johnson 90, Austin Rilei 89, Kaden Kangas 93.
L'Anse 350 - Tristan Leaf 77, Raymond Miron 90, Andre Richards 91, Brett Martiner 92.
West Iron County 363 - Austin Waara 85, Riley Thomson 89, Alec Shineblack 90, Max Maloney 99.
Ironwood 392 - Jake Kavinsky 88, Jon Erickson 91, Bryant Rowe 101, Luke Hewitt 112.
WestPAC Girls - 1, Megan Kelly, HOU, 87; 2, Bailey Raffaelli, HOU 93; 3, Kenna Farrey, HOU, 93; 4, Alyssa Norback, LAN, 94,; 5, Noelle Polakowski, HOU, 95.
Houghton 368 - Megan Kelly 87, Bailey Raffaelli 93, Kenna Farrey 93, Noelle Polakowski 95.
Ironwood 479 - Maighlin Kolesar 105, Korrie Trier 100, Caitlin White 132, Rachel Pallin 142.
Calumet 482 - Allison Darnell 109, Rachel Darnell 108, Megan Yeo 119, Kelsey fink 146.
L'Anse 505 - Alyssa Norback 94, Breanna Dudo 127, Rebecca Oger 132, Paige Ruska 152.
CCC Boys - 1, Dylan Morris 83; 2, Brandon Jilbert 84; 3, Alex Outinen, JEF, 85; 4, Trevor Ongie, LLH, 85; 5, Zach Nicholas, JEF, 85.
Ontonagon 353 - Brandon Jilbert 84, Dylan Morris 83, David Pollard 97, Logan Jilbert 89.
Jeffers 355 - Alex Outinen 85, Chris Outinen 89, Zach Nicholas 85, Jacob Zerbst 95.
Chassell 384 - Steve Tuominen 92, Jordan LaTendresse 95, Dax Durocher 97, Carson Ryynanen 100.
Lake Linden-Hubbell 391 - Trevor Ongie 85, Dustin Provost 98, Cole Beauchamp 103, Coy Budweg 105.
CCC Girls - 1, Chloe Ashley, ONT, 99; 2, Ciarra Larson, LLH, 101; 3, Rebecca Larson, BAR, 104; 4, Erin Majurin, ONT, 116; 5, Chelsea Koepel, LLH, 117.
Ontonagon 494 - Chloe Ashley 99, Erin Majurin 116, Abby Domitrovich 132, Bailee Aho 147.
In fact, Jungle Rules - the ability to move the ball up to one club length be it fairway or rough - were put in play to make it easier for the kids to cope.
"We are playing Jungle Rules, so the kids are allowed to set the ball up however they want. They can roll it around, even in the rough to set up a shot," Kumpula said. "But it is the grips, and the constant rain that just makes it a mess for the kids. It is just a cold, bad day out there.
"It is a day for extra socks, extra gloves, heck, even an extra towel."
Always a taxing sport mentally, Kumpula believes it will be the most experienced golfers that can maintain an unwavering focus will who come out of this three-day stretch successful.
The golfers who can minimize damage and give themselves a chance with each shot will be the ones enjoying the abbreviated season.
"You have no confidence or repetition, so it really becomes an endurance test," Kumpula said. "The kids have to deal with cold, and rain, and wind, and then on Friday it should be nice, so that day is different too. I think the kids with the most experience might have the advantage here."
This set of meets becomes all the more important with U.P. Finals (May 29) just days away. The Division 1 teams will be heading back to Portage Lake for Finals, while D-2 head to Oak Crest Country Club in Iron Mountain and the D-3 teams will play at Escanaba Country Club.
"How do you get ready for anything without practice?" Kumpula said. "I'm just telling my kids to go out and do the best that they can. I don't know if you can really get ready for something like this."