Prep golf: High school golfers just glad to get rare shot at playing outside at Red Fox Run

K.I. SAWYER – Everybody felt like a winner at a high school golf meet held at Red Fox Run on Wednesday afternoon.

That’s because in this unspring-like spring, a participation trophy is actually a grand achievement as most golfers hadn’t been on an actual course more than once so far this year.

“The big thing was to just get outside and hit balls,” host coach Shaun Clark of Gwinn said.

“This is like our second practice of the season,” Munising coach Bette Immel said of the meet. “We had a scramble (tournament) in Manistique (on Tuesday) and that was the first time we’ve been able to get outside.”

But scores were kept and only a few surprises emerged.

Senior medalist Matt Kilberg shot 41 for nine holes and junior teammate Dominic Suardini was right behind with 42 as Ishpeming held off Munising for the boys team title by four strokes, 191-195.

Negaunee was third with 219 and the host Modeltowners recorded 267.

On the girls side, two Munising freshmen rose to the top of a field with little varsity experience on the links.

Bailey Downs shot 54 and teammate Frankie Mattson 59 as the Mustangs totaled 242. That was far ahead of Ishpeming’s 315, while Negaunee had just two golfers and Gwinn none.

“We won the U.P. girls title (in Division 3) last year, but we only have one girl back from that team,” Immel said. “Those freshmen – Bailey, Frankie and Marissa (Immel) – they’re just such good athletes. They’re really good no matter what season it is, whether it’s volleyball, basketball or track.”

Immel shot 65, one stroke behind one of the team’s seniors, Megan Murray, who had 64.

Ishpeming’s only girls returnee, sophomore Ashley Bertucci, recorded 79, right in the middle of the Hematites’ five girls who were all separated by just three strokes. Freshman Sadie Stetson led the way with 77. Negaunee’s two sophomores were paced by Mallory Erva with 64.

On the boys side, Kilberg says he’s ready to become a force in the U.P. in his final season.

“So far, all I’ve done is hit balls on the range once,” he said about his outside preparation for Wednesday. “Putting was the toughest part today, both reading the greens and judging the speed.

“My goals I’d have to say are to break 80 at (home course) Wawonowin (Country Club) and be in the top five in every meet.”

Suardini was a bit of a surprise since he hasn’t golfed competitively in two years.

“I was just happy that my worst holes were two double bogeys,” he said.

Five other boys also broke 50, with three coming from Munising – junior Colin Immel had 44, sophomore Quintin Tarasan 45 and junior Izaak Mahoski 47.

The other sub-50 shooters were Negaunee sophomore John Molise with 48 and freshman teammate Trevor Uren with 49.

“I was proud of our group of beginning golfers,” new Miners coach Dustin Hongisto said.

Gwinn’s best shooter was Jacob Maki with 53.