Chips 3rd at regional, qualify for state finals

FROM STAFF REPORTS

BIG RAPIDS — After finishing third in a Division 3 Regional on Thursday, the No. 10-ranked Manistee golf team is heading back to the state finals for a third straight year.

Manistee senior captain Matt Simmons putts the ball at a Division 3 regional meet in Big Rapids at the Katke Golf Course on Thursday.  (Ryan Zuke/Pioneer Sports Network)

Manistee senior captain Matt Simmons putts the ball at a Division 3 regional meet in Big Rapids at the Katke Golf Course on Thursday.
(Ryan Zuke/Pioneer Sports Network)

The defending-regional-champion Chippewas shot a 325 which was topped by only Big Rapids’ 319 and Ludington’s 302.

“We couldn’t touch that,” Manistee coach Mike Swanson said of Ludington’s score. “They shot their best round of the season.”

The Chippewas were paced by junior Will Shriver’s 78. Senior captains Blake Davis and Matt Simmons followed with an 81 and 82, respectively, while Connor Mrozik carded an 84 to round out the team’s scoring.

Eric McElrath shot an 87, but did not factor into the team’s scoring.

“We reached our goal today. Athletics is about setting a goal and ours was to get out and into the finals,” Swanson said. “We automatically finish top-15 in the state and you can’t take that away, but now it is ‘Can we improve?”

Improvement is the key, according to Swanson who admitted that the Chippewas could have played better.

“We have played better this year,” Swanson said. “We started out poorly with a triple-bogey, a double-bogey, one shanked out of bounds. Our first three or four holes were just poor.

“On the front nine, they were all around 42 or 43, except Will who shot a 40”

Though the Chippewas struggled through the first half of the course, their experience payed off — all five golfers possess state-finals experience, none panicked and all rebounded.

“Will shot in the high 30s on the back nine which was really good,” Swanson said. “Connor played well on the back end and Blake was unbelievable. … He hit almost every green on the back nine.

“I talked to them at the turn and told them we are in a dog fight and its all about who finishes well. It shows the character of this team to start out poorly and turn it around.”

The Division 3 MHSAA finals will be played at Forest Akers West on the campus of Michigan State University on June 5 and 6.

“We are going to relax and play some golf now,” Swanson said. “This match was stressful, but next week will be all fun.”

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