Montague’s girls golf program used supreme depth to capture a second-straight Division 4 state championship this fall.
Whitehall’s Karli VanDuinen earned first-team all-state for the third time in as many seasons as she played golf.
It should be no surprise that between Montague and VanDuinen, nominee spots filled up quickly for the 2021 VanDyk Mortgage West Michigan Conference Player of the Year award in girls golf.
Montague’s Orianna Bylsma and Mackenzie Goudreau, as well as Whitehall’s VanDuinen, have been nominated by a CatchMark SportsNet panel as finalists for the award.
Voting for the conference player of the year in all fall sports will open this Friday, after we’ve had a chance to announce the nominees in each sport.
Fan polls of all sports will be released in one story on our site. That’s where readers will determine who earns player of the year recognition. Readers will be allowed to vote once per hour as long as the poll remains open.
Once players of the year are determined by fan votes and announced by CatchMark, we will invite the winners to our office in downtown Whitehall for an awards presentation and honorary dinner. A trophy that stays in our CatchMark office will have the names of the players of the years engraved on it.
In the coming days, look for stories announcing the nominees for boys cross country, girls cross country and boys tennis. Stories have already published on football, volleyball and boys soccer.
Here are the three nominees for the conference player of the year award in girls golf, along with their season stats and achievements. They are listed alphabetically:
Bylsma was a key contributor to the Wildcats’ Division 4 state championship team in 2020, the first title for a girls sport in school history, and she led them to another D-4 crown this fall. She earned Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association first-team all-state honors both seasons.
In this year’s state finals at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East, Bylsma shot a two-day total of 165 (86-79) to set the pace for Montague and finish in the overall top 10 at No. 7. Montague and Lansing Catholic tied with their two-day overall scores, but the Wildcats won on the fifth-score tiebreaker.
Last season, Bylsma fired an 81 to finish in a tie for fifth individually and lead Montague to a runaway victory in the one-day event at MSU’s Forest Akers West.
In 18-hole events this season, Bylsma averaged a team-best 84.0. She also earned academic all-state accolades individually and helped the Wildcats receive those honors as a team, too.
Goudreau has been a key contributor to the Wildcats’ back-to-back Division 4 state championship teams in 2020 and 2021. Last year, she received Michigan Interscholastic Golf Coaches Association all-state honorable mention accolades. This year, she was a MIGCA first-team all-stater.
Goudreau made Montague golf history of her own this fall. She shot 77 at Old Channel Trail in the Wildcat Invitational on Sept. 16 to break the school record for lowest round. On the season, she was second on the team for 18-hole scoring average at 84.6.
Goudreau just missed out on making the top 10 individually at the state finals this season. Her two-day total of 170 (82-88) was two shots off the 10th-place spot, held by senior teammate Gabby Moreau.
Goudreau finished third in the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament this season, placing behind Whitehall’s Karli VanDuinen and teammate Orianna Bylsma.
VanDuinen does not consider golf her best sport. It’s bowling, for which she has signed to continue competing in the Division I collegiate level at Arkansas State University. But she is a very good golfer, too.
VanDuinen has competed in high school golf for three seasons, and she’s been first-team all-state and Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament champion all three years.
As a freshman at Reeths-Puffer, she earned all-state at the Division 2 level. She transferred from R-P to Whitehall as a sophomore, so she had to sit out golf that year.
In her junior and senior seasons at Whitehall, VanDuinen posted top-10 finishes at the Division 3 state finals. She placed seventh with a 77 in the one-day event in 2020 at Michigan State University’s Forest Akers East. This fall, she climbed to the runner-up spot with a two-day total of 153 (78-75) in the D-3 finals at MSU’s Forest Akers West. She shot a personal-best 66 this season, one stroke shy of the school record.
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