Gremlins take trophy from Finals site

MARQUETTE – The home course advantage that the Marquette Senior High School golf teams enjoy this spring is razor-thin.

So the Redmen and Redettes were just as happy as any of their visitors to be able to play the Heritage Course at the Marquette Golf Club for the Marquette Invitational on Wednesday afternoon.

“This is the only competitive meet we’ve had at our home course,” MSHS coach Ben Smith said. “And we haven’t had much opportunity to practice. It seems like we either have a meet or its raining or snowing whenever we try to get out here.”

All of the larger schools at this meet, which was a majority of the 11 that made the trip, had a vested interest in playing on Wednesday.

That’s because they’ll be back at this course next Wednesday to play in the MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 finals.

“For me, I just wanted to get used to the course. That was more important than the competition today,” said Gladstone sophomore Kyle Pouliot, who missed the top 10 boys list by two strokes with 85.

“On this course it’s important that you hit a good drive. I had a couple of bad shots, but overall I thought it was a decent day.”

Houghton swept both team titles, scoring 397 to run away with the girls crown as the Gremlins had the day’s three lowest shooters, including senior medalist Megan Kelly with 85.

“I played at the (U.P.) finals here three years ago, and I’ve played a couple of UPGA (U.P. Golf Association) tournaments here, too,” Kelly said. “I could’ve done better because I need to read the greens better. It’s hard to find the right speed.

“Cup placement is everything.”

On the boys side, the Gremlins shot 322 to eke out a five-stroke victory over Marquette, which was two strokes ahead of third-place Kingsford.

The Redmen had the two lowest shooters, but only one – junior medalist Brett Specker – had a score that counted.

“My main goal was to get on the greens in regulation,” said Specker, who shot a 2-over-par 73 with two birdies and four bogeys.

The No. 2 shooter, fellow junior Scott Frazier, was unable to get out of school until just before the meet started, forcing Smith to place him on the Marquette B team.

He shot 75 with four birdies and just one double-bogey, that on No. 16 because, as he said, “I chunked my tee shot.

“It’s awesome that the U.P. Finals are going to be here. I want to see if I can defend my U.P. title.”

He won medalist honors at last year’s Division 1 finals at Portage Lake Golf Course in Houghton, shooting 71 for his only round under 80 all spring.

Frazier’s round on Wednesday, if placed on the A team, would’ve been enough to give Marquette the victory.

“I’m just happy we were able to get more than four girls and also 11 or 12 boys playing today,” Smith said, adding that the preparation could prove crucial at today’s Great Northern Conference championship meet in Iron Mountain.

The Redettes, who were runners-up with 439, had an additional fifth player, sophomore Sydney Higgins, available with her soccer season now over. Despite a late start to her season, she shared team low-score honors on Wednesday with sophomore Leah Anderson with 104.

They tied for fifth overall. The two best scorers after Kelly were Gremlins teammates Noelle Polakowski with 96 and Taryn Kaurala with 102. Next came with Valerie Darnell of Calumet with 103, followed by Higgins and Anderson.

For the boys, Houghton’s Wyatt Liston was third overall with 77, followed by Joe Linn of Kingsford with 78, Gunnar Stein of Houghton with 80 and Izaak Mahoski of Munising, Brendan Longhini of Houghton and Tanner Kearly of Hancock each with 81.