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Montague girls golf breaks school record, ‘trending in right direction’ as state-title defense looms

Wildcats shoot 334 at Forest Akers West, where they won Division 4 championship last October.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Montague’s girls golf team returned to the scene Monday: Forest Akers West at Michigan State University, where last fall the Wildcats captured the school’s first state championship for any girls sport.

Must be something about that golf course – it’s a challenging layout, but the Wildcats seem to play it very well.

Montague broke the school record by totaling 334 in the East Lansing Invitational, bettering the 336 the Wildcats shot on Aug. 23 in the Sentech Services Invitational at Kensington Metropark Golf Course. The effort left Montague in second place behind Okemos, which won the event at 322. Grosse Ile was third at 351.

Senior Orianna Bylsma paced Montague with a 7-over 79 to place third individually. Sophomore Mackenzie Goudreau, who recently set a school record with a 77, finished in fourth with an 80. Senior Gabby Moreau was 13th (87), while senior Claire Meacham took 14th (88).

Montague senior Orianna Bylsma poses for a portrait after the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association golf tournament Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

“Today started to feel special again and definitely felt like a win, even though we technically took the runner-up position,” Montague coach Phil Kerr said. “We built the remaining schedule very similar to last year with hopes we can capture that magic again.

“If we can keep dropping that school record all the way through the state championship like we did last year, I really like our chances.”

Last season, Montague shot progressively lower scores throughout the state tournament. The Wildcats’ peaked in the Division 4 state finals at Forest Akers West on Oct. 17, where they posted a then-school-record 343 to beat runner-up Lansing Catholic by 27 shots.

Should Montague return to the state finals as a team next month, the Wildcats will compete across the street from Forest Akers West on the East course.

Okemos senior Allison Cui earned medalist honors in the East Lansing invite Monday with a 2-under 70. Freshman teammate Alena Li was second with a 76. Lansing Catholic finished fifth in the event with a team score of 357.

“Today was important because we were going head-to-head with Lansing Catholic, which will once again be one of the teams gunning for us at the state finals,” Kerr said. “Just like last year, we came out on a championship golf course and not only shot a new school record, but distance ourselves from (Lansing Catholic).”

Montague girls golf coach Phil Kerr walks back to his cart during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Last week, Montague cruised to a second-straight Greater Muskegon Athletic Association title with a team score of 345, which was 31 shots better than runner-up Whitehall.

This season, Montague has taken first place in five events, including a 341 en route to winning the Tullymore Invitational on Sept. 20, and second place in two others.

The Wildcats next will compete in the RP Rocket Invite Tuesday at Lincoln Golf Club, then on Friday and Saturday they’ll play a two-day event at Katke Golf Course at Ferris State  University, the site of next Tuesday’s regional competition.

Kerr said he does not know what it is about Forest Akers West, but his squads have been playing it very well. He added that winning the Tullymore and GMAA events last week really got the Wildcats’ focus going in the right direction.

He believes the swagger is back for his team.

“Being on (Forest Akers West) in similar circumstances and with positive results definitely started to feel like déjà vu,” Kerr said. “The confidence and vibe around this team is trending in the right direction, as well as their individual games.”

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

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