by dennis chase firstname.lastname@example.org
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Glen Lake is headed back to the Division IV state golf championships.
This time with freshman Nichole Cox.
Cox earned medalist honors with a 79 Wednesday as the Lakers placed second in the regional at Manistee National. Harbor Springs won the title with a 351. Glen Lake came in at 374. Grayling edged Ludington by one stroke, 380 to 381, for the third and final qualifying spot.
In the Division I regional at Stonewater Country Club in Kentwood, Traverse City West finished fourth, four points behind Rockford for the last qualifying spot. Sisters Taylor and Hunter Kehoe, however, qualified for the state finals as individuals.
Glen Lake, meanwhile, advanced to the state finals for the first time in school history last October when the Lakers placed second with a 404. Glen Lake was 30 shots better Wednesday, but it still turned into an anxious afternoon for coach Paul Christiansen.
"After nine holes we were in good shape," Christiansen said. "We were at 176. I thought, 'Wow, we're playing our best round of the year. We're doing really well.' But then we came back with a much higher second nine. At that point, I was worried if we would even be in the top three."
Cox and her teammates put those worries to rest.
Cox shot a 39 on the front nine, a 40 on the back to gain medalist honors. A birdie on 17 allowed her to pull away from Farwell's Bria Colosky, who finished with an 81.
"She played consistent golf," Christiansen said. "She missed a couple putts, but yet had some nice recoveries, too. That's a big deal to be medalist as a freshman."
It was Cox's third round under 80 this season.
Melanie Kulanda fired a 92, Nicole Pace 96 and Madison Hill 107 for the Lakers. Kulanda birdied the first hole and finished her front nine at 43. Pace went 48-48.
Harbor Springs was led Abby Detmar's 83. Perry Bower carded an 85, Ellen Breighner 87 and Zoey Bezilla 96.
"The best team won," Christiansen said. "Harbor, the last two or three weeks, has really been playing well. All five of their girls were under 100. Three were in the 80s. That's tough to beat. That's a really good day."
Grayling was paced by Whitney Schans, who fired a 91.
The top five teams shot 390 or under.
The Division IV state finals will be Oct. 18-19 at Bedford Valley.
"We're very pleased to be going back to the state championships," Christiansen said.
West came close in Division I. East Kentwood won the regional with a 337. Holt took second at 349 while Rockford edged West for third, 369 to 373.
"We were very, very close," Titans coach Kristen Nolan said. "It was kind of a bummer. But the girls played consistent to their averages.
"We went into it knowing there were going to be five teams battling for that third qualifying spot."
Junior Taylor Kehoe placed fifth overall with an 85. Hunter was sixth with an 87.
"Taylor did not have a hole higher than a 5 until the last one," Nolan said. "She was solid.
"Hunter, as a freshman, started out shooting 105, 110 and then consistently dropped her scores throughout the season. Both were in the Junior Elite program at Crystal Mountain and that helped them tremendously."
Erica Whiting was West's third counter with a 100. Grace Ellul was at 101. West's top four scorers Wednesday are all underclassmen.
"We have a young team," Nolan said. "Next year will definitely be our year."
The Division I state finals will be on the west course at Michigan State.