Houghton golf a WestPAC winner

HOUGHTON – There was a little drama left in the WestPAC girls’ golf season, but Megan Kelly shut it down quickly Thursday at the Bulldog Invitational at Portage Lake Golf Course.

Though Houghton, with all four girls under 100 for 18 again, ensured the team competition was barely competitive, the fight for medalist honors, and with it the title of the WestPAC’s top golfer of 2013, went to a three-person playoff. Kelly, Houghton teammate Bailey Raffaelli and L’Anse’s Alyssa Norback faced off, but the senior ended the debate just one hole in.

“It wasn’t too bad. I had people watch me today, so I knew what it felt like to have people watch me. It was a little nerve-wracking,” Kelly said.

Once the trio teed off at No. 10, Kelly found herself much more at ease. Norback went first and pushed her drive out of bounds right. Raffaelli went next, and though her drive was in play, it left her a fairway metal from the green. Kelly connected cleanly with her drive and put it just off the fairway left.

Raffaelli played a solid second, but struggled with her short game, allowing Kelly to win the hole with a double-bogey 6 even though she three-putted.

“I know I need to improve. In some things I’m good with my drives, but I need to work on my short game a lot before (U.P. Division 1 Finals) next Wednesday,” Kelly said.

All three players shot 88. With two of the 88s coming from Gremlins, plus Noelle Polakowski’s 91 and Kenna Farrey’s 96, Houghton made quick work of the rest of the WestPAC field with a team total of 363.

Second-place Calumet had 430 led by Valerie Darnell’s 96, followed by L’Anse (445) and Ironwood (468).

On the boys’ side Houghton had a tougher challenge, but still came away with the top spot. Freshman Wyatt Liston and sophomore Brendan Longhini carded two of the three sub-80 rounds played Friday as the Gremlins totaled 363.

The medalist, however, was Calumet’s Reese Lassila, who swept the three-day Houghton County golf marathon by being two shots ahead with a 74 in Tuesday’s Sandretto Invite at PLGC, a 35 over nine holes at Calumet Golf Club Wednesday, and a 76 Friday at the Bulldog Invite.

Lassila, the 2010 U.P. Division 1 medalist as a freshman, has one more chance to get his title back as this year’s finals are over this same track on Wednesday. He had a chance to go even lower than he did, as he was even-par through 13 holes, but bogeyed four in a row coming in to finish with a 76.

“I felt great on the back nine,” said Lassila, who started his round on No. 9. “My finish was pretty bad, but I guess it was good enough.”

His effort was two better than Liston’s 78 and Longhini’s 79.

Hancock grouped its scores tightly in the 80s for a second-place 334 led by Matt Sanregret’s 82.

Calumet was third with a 343, followed by L’Anse (347), West Iron County (356) and Ironwood (365).

West Iron’s Max Maloney had the shot of the day playing from the 4th spot, as he aced the par-3 14th hole for his first career hole-in-one.

Because of the severely shortened WestPAC season, in which the boys played only half the holes they were scheduled to play this year, Friday’s meet was the sole determinant of all-league honors, as opposed to the usual round-robin.

All-WestPAC honorees for boys included Lassila, Liston, Longhini, Raymond Miron of L’Anse, Sanregret, Gunnar Stein of Houghton, Jon Erickson of Ironwood and Bryce Johnson of Calumet.

All-WestPAC girls include Kelly, Raffaelli, Polakowski, Farrey, Darnell, Norback and Ironwood’s Maighlin Kolesar.