Houghton tops MSHS for fourth-straight U.P. girls golf championship

MARQUETTE – The Copper Country, and specifically Houghton, has become a mecca for girls sports excellence.

The Gremlins and Calumet have ruled Upper Peninsula volleyball in the fall for a number of years, while Houghton and just in recent years Ontonagon, L’Anse and Dollar Bay have had their way in girls basketball during the winter.

Now comes the Gremlins in the spring, ruling the golf world with their fourth straight MHSAA U.P. Division 1 golf championship at the Marquette Golf Club on Wednesday.

“They have been really consistent,” Houghton coach Corey Markham said about his players. “It’s quite a feat considering we hadn’t played a hole until we came down here for the Negaunee Range Bank Invitational on May 13.”

Their four scorers were all within seven strokes of each other, led by Megan Kelly’s 95, third-best round of the day.

Houghton totaled 396, a full 27 shots ahead of runner-up Marquette’s 423.

Gladstone’s Callie Jensen shot 90 to earn medalist honors, while Marquette sophomore Sydney Higgins, whose season started exactly one week earlier, was runner-up with 94.

Higgins was a member of the Redettes’ soccer team whose season ended about 10 days ago. As her primary sport, soccer practice prevented her from attending the golf team’s practices or meets.

“I’ve only had a chance to have a little bit of practice,” Higgins said, “so I’m happy with how I shot today.”

Senior teammate Hannah Crampton shot 100, tied for seventh overall, Leah Anderson had 109, Janae Peterson 120 and Hailey Peterson a non-counting 140.

Higgins, an all-sports enthusiast, also played on the City Insurance Sentinels girls hockey team that made a run at a national championship in early April.

She couldn’t stay long after Wednesday’s medal ceremony, either, as she had an Iron Range Women’s Softball League game to play in the evening.

“I got a birdie on No. 2,” she said proudly. “It’s a par-4. I hit good drives all day. It’s just my putts that killed me.”

She did say she needed just one putt on her birdie hole, however.

Jensen also said she had room for improvement despite her low round.

“I definitely left a couple of strokes out there,” Jensen said. “I had a 9 on one hole. That one I hit into a lateral hazard.”

Specifically, a forest off the fairway at No. 4. With just a narrow opening to get it back in play, she bounced it off a tree and had to replay it with the assessed penalty.

“I was chipping pretty good, though. I had a lot of one-putts to save some pars,” she said.

Jensen also made mention of enjoying the fast greens, which for her makes the Marquette course’s undulating greens easier to read.

Escanaba was third with 433, followed by Gladstone with 437, Calumet 443, Menominee 466 and Manistique 502 in a 10-team field that included Negaunee not posting a team score.

The Emeralds’ Hailey Hoholik shot the day’s fourth-best round of 97 to earn a medal, while teammate Rachel Ryan added 118. Negaunee’s two golfers were paced by Mallory Erva with 135.