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Emma McKinley closes stellar Ludington golf career with top-6 state finals finish

As a team, Orioles finish 10th in the Division 3 state finals.

Ludington’s girls golf team poses for a group photo at The Meadows on the campus of Grand Valley State University. The Orioles competed in the MHSAA Division 3 state finals Oct. 20-21, 2023. (Courtesy of Ludington athletics)

Emma McKinley has absolutely no regrets about her high school golf career with Ludington. After all, most can only dream of what she acccomplished.

Less than 24 hours after her stellar run as an Orioles golf standout came to a close, she reflected upon the ride it’s been.

The Ludington senior tied for sixth in the two-day MHSAA Division 3 state finals Friday and Saturday at The Meadows on the campus of Grand Valley State University. She shot 81 and 77 for a total of 158 in rainy and cold conditions.

“I feel that my sixth-place finish was well deserved,” she said. “It was my last ever run and all the work up to this point was done. I had to give it my all because I knew it was my last-ever high school match.

“I had two rough holes on Friday, but other than that I played two solid rounds.”

In this file photo, Ludington senior Emma McKinley follows through on a tee shot during the Division 3 girls golf regional Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, at St. Ives Golf Course in Stanwood, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Last year, McKinley placed ninth in the Division 3 state finals at Forest Akers East with a two-day total of 160 (81-79).

This time, she was joined at the finals by her Ludington team, which finished 10th among 18 teams. The Orioles shot 404 on Friday and rebounded for a 368 on Saturday for a total of 772.

“It was a blessing to compete with them at the state finals,” McKinley said. “We all deserved being there and earned out spots. We put in a ton of hard work during the season and prepared ourselves for the state tournament.

“Winning the regional was a highlight to our team because it hasn’t been done until 1987.”

Ludington won the Division 3 girls golf regional title Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, at St. Ives Golf Course in Stanwood, Mich. (Photo courtesy of Becky Jo McKinley)

Ludington won the Division 3 regional title Oct. 10 on a tough St. Ives Golf Course in Stanwood. McKinley was medalist that day, making it two years in a row she had earned the distinction.

McKinley and Ludington also finished first in the West Michigan Conference, respectively, each of the last two years.

McKinley will wrap up her career as a two-time all-stater and first-team all-conference performer for four years. She won conference medalist honors all four years, doing so her freshman and sophomore year in the Lakes 8 Activities Conference., and she reached the state finals all four years.

“It was an honor to represent Ludington High School all four years as a No. 1 golfer,” McKinley said. “I had the best teammates along my side throughout my years. I met some of my best friends, playing with Whitehall and Ava Garcia in every conference match for the past two years.”

Grand Rapids Catholic Central captured the Division 3 state championship with a two-day total of 673 (334-339). Williamston was runner-up (685), Macomb Lutheran North third (696), Spring Lake fourth (728), and Grand Rapids South Christian fifth (742).

Detroit Country Day finished sixth (748), Whitehall seventh (759), Goodrich eighth (764), and Bloomfield Hills Marian ninth (767).

In addition to McKinley’s performance, Ludington senior Sam Hanson shot 193 (98-95), senior Kendal Waligorski shot 207 (110-97), senior Julia Reed posted 214 (115-99), and junior Vanessa Madl carded 274 (139-135).,

Macomb Lutheran North senior Lauren Timpf became a three-time state finals medalist by shooting 74 on Friday and 67 on Saturday for a two-day total of 141. The Purdue University commit is a two-time Michigan Girls’ State Amateur Championship medalist.

Spring Lake’s Zoe Dull was runner-up at 149 (74-75), while Grand Rapids Christian’ss Lillian O’Grady was third (77-72–149), Williamston’s Nicole Schafer fourth (77-73–150), and Grand Rapids South Christian’s Ashley Thomasma fifth (77-79-156).

McKinley is undecided on where she will attend college, but she is hoping to get the opportunity to play golf at that level.

“I plan on going into the medical field, either optometry or a general surgeon,” she said. “I would like to thank Erica Reed forbeing the best golf coach I could ever ask for. I would also like to thank my parents and brother because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

In this file photo, Ludington senior Emma McKinley is shown competing in the West Michigan Conference girls golf championship Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Lincoln Golf Club in Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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