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Reigning state champ Montague defends girls county golf title, shows no signs of slowing

Wildcats run away with second-straight GMAA championship; Whitehall’s Karli VanDuinen earns medalist honors for third time in as many chances.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark SportsNet

TWIN LAKE – Girls golfers from the White Lake area took over in Twin Lake once again.

Reigning Division 4 state champion Montague defended its Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament title Wednesday at Stonegate Golf Club. The Wildcats shot 345 as a team to pull away from runner-up and neighboring rival Whitehall, which finished at 376. Mona Shores was third at 384.

Whitehall senior Karli VanDuinen fired a 4-over 76 to claim medalist honors for the third time in as many chances at the GMAA tourney. She could not participate in the 2019 event because of her transfer from Reeths-Puffer to Whitehall.

“It’s fun. I feel accomplished sometimes when I actually win a couple things,” said a laughing VanDuinen, also a standout bowler, who committed to the powerhouse Division I bowling program at Arkansas State University on Sunday.

Whitehall senior Karli VanDuinen earned medalist honors at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association golf tournament for the third time in as many chances Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

VanDuinen’s score Wednesday was her second-best of the season. She shot a 75 at White Lake Golf Club.

Putting was the key for VanDuinen in her final GMAA tourney. Her round was punctuated by four birdies, including on each of the final three holes.

“I was scrambling a lot and then my putting just kind of saved me most of the time,” VanDuinen said.

For Montague, depth and experience were the difference. It was tight between the Wildcats and Vikings halfway through the round, according to Montague coach Phil Kerr, but his team was able to place four golfers in the top 10 individually and they drew from their state-championship pedigree.

Senior Orianna Bylsma paced Montague with a runner-up finish at 11-over 83. Wildcats sophomore Mackenzie Goudreau finished third (84), followed by seniors Gabby Moreau and Claire Meacham and junior Natalie Kellogg in fifth (87), sixth (91) and ninth (95), respectively.

Montague senior Orianna Bylsma drops a birdie putt on the 17th green during the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association tournament Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, at Stonegate Golf Club in Twin Lake, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Reeths-Puffer’s Paige Anderson placed fourth (85), Mona Shores’ Dezmin Merwin and Mayson Southland were tied for seventh (94), respectively, and Whitehall’s Ava Garcia 10th (96).

Other team scores Wednesday, listed from fourth place to ninth, included Reeths-Puffer (404), North Muskegon (453), Western Michigan Christian (467), Fruitport (469), Holton (508) and Oakridge (525).

Montague broke the school record for 18-hole score twice earlier this season with 336 and 338. The Wildcats’ scores got progressively lower throughout the season last year, including a then-school-record 343 on a tough Forest Akers West course at Michigan State University in the Division 4 state finals to win by a whopping 27 strokes.

Kerr feels very good how his Wildcats are playing now.

“We know that this year’s going to be more challenging than last year ended up being,” Kerr said. “We didn’t know going in that we were going to win (the state title) by 27 strokes, but we know this year there are some teams that are right there on par with us – no pun intended – and it’s going to be a battle.

“I’m really happy with how the girls played today in a championship setting and I think that’s going to be the big edge that we have. The teams that are coming up to fight with us don’t have the championship experience that we have. They’re shooting similar scores right now, but when we go head-to-head, we trust our girls like today to show up in championship form.”

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

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