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Whitehall’s girls golf team caps strong 2023 with seventh-place state finals finish

Elsewhere, Holton’s EmmaLee Fox competes in Division 4 state finals.

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

The ultimate goal for Whitehall’s girls golf team this season, as it is every year, was to qualify for the state finals tournament.

The Vikings achieved that and quite a bit more. They posted the second-highest state finals finish as a team in program history.

Whitehall placed seventh among 18 teams at the Division 3 state finals in rainy and cold conditions Friday and Saturday at The Meadows on the campus of Grand Valley State University. The Vikings’ two-day total was 759, as they shot 382 on Friday and 377 on Saturday.

Whitehall did not finish first in any of its bigger events this season, but the Vikings consistently competed in the second- or third-place range, including third on a very tough St. Ives Golf Course in the regional.

“I think overall we performed very well,” Whitehall coach Bill Borgman said. “We beat the two teams (at the state finals) that beat us in regionals in Ludington and Chippewa Hills. They beat us at regionals at St. Ives, so you’ve got to feel pretty good about that.

“A seventh-place finish (at state finals) is awesome.”

Grand Rapids Catholic Central captured the 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), Grand Rapids South Christian fifth (742), and Detroit Country Day sixth (748).

Goodrich was eighth (764), Bloomfield Hills Marian ninth (767), and regional champ Ludington 10th (772). Regional runner-up Remus Chippewa Hills finished 15th (798).

Junior Grace McDowell paced Whitehall, shooting 86 on Friday and 91 on Saturday for a total score of 177. Senior Ava Garcia was next at 183 (92-91), followed by senior Allie Van Antwerp at 194 (103-91), sophomore Morgan Garcia at 205 (101-104), and senior Jersey Pierson at 220 (110-110).

“Grace pulled through with an 86 and 91. Very consistently, Ava shot 92-91 — not what she wnated, but to be put in those course conditions and the long time it takes to play, it’s a big deal.

“Allie came back with a 91. It was her personal best. She was trying real hard to break 90 at least once this year. And Morgan followed up with her personal best at (101), so very good. Jersey struggled, but she was very consistent at 110-110.”

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).

Ludington senior Emma McKinley, who was a two-time regional medalist and two-time West Michigan Conference individual champ, tied for sixth in the state finals with a two-day total of 158 (81-77).

The top state finals finish for a Whitehall girls golf team was fifth place in 2005 in the Laura Kueny era. The 2023 Vikings squad’s state finals score ranks third in program history behind the 2005 team (724) and 2022 team (748), which finished 12th.

In “cold and miserable” conditions for two days, Whitehall persevered. In Saturday’s round, players were sent out and got their rounds underway, but the horn went off and everybody was called back to the clubhouse.

The round was re-started, according to Borgman, and it didn’t finish until 5 or 5:30 p.m.

All in all, Whitehall performed consistently throughout the weekend in spite of the conditions.

“It was just basically casual water everywhere. Surprisingly, the greens were very nice and rolled very fast. They did a good job on the greens,” Borgman said.

“It was a grind because it’s a six- to seven-hour round of golf and just that alone, the time in between shots and waiting, is brutal enough. Put the weather on top of it and the extremely wet conditions where you’re not getting much roll, and shooting consistent golf is amazing just to stay focused for that long.”


Holton junior EmmaLee Fox competed in the Division 4 state finals at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek. She shot 111 on Friday and 108 on Saturday for a two-day total of 219.

Ann Arbor Greenhills junior Mia Melendez finished as medalist for the third straight year. She shot 79 on Friday and 69 on Saturday for a total of 148.

Lansing Catholic captured the team state title with a two-day score of 705 (357-348).

“It was cold and wet, but awesome,” Fox said about the weekend of golf via a message through Holton coach Jessica Wagenmaker.

“She had some incredible holes and then some that were a struggle,” Wagenmaker said. “The downpouring or rain was miserable, but she never once complained. I think she’s pretty excited to be back there next year.”

In this file photo, Holton junior EmmaLee Fox poses after she qualified individually for the Division 4 girls golf state finals with her showing at the regional Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Big Rapids, Mich. (Courtesy of Jessica Wagenmaker)

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

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