MCC’s Slivka medals at state finals; Sabers’ Picardat, Chips’ O’Hagan place 32nd

ALLENDALE —Manistee Catholic Central’s John Slivka capped a spectacular season and decorated prep career on Saturday in the Division 4 golf state finals at The Meadows of Grand Valley State University.

Following his 76 on Friday — in the first round of the finals — the MCC senior carded an 82 in Saturday’s final round for a combined score of 158, good for eighth place overall in a field of more than a hundred golfers. The top-10 finish earned Slivka a medal.

“John had a great season,” said MCC coach Denis Meikle. “And this weekend, it was nice to see him finish in the top 10, because that was my goal for him.

“He played really steady, both days, on a difficult course,” he added. “He was right down the middle and hitting greens in regulation, which is what you need to do on a course like that.”

Slivka’s teammate and fellow senior Preston Picardat also competed over the weekend, capping his prep career with a 32nd-place finish overall after shooting an 88 on Friday and an 85 on Saturday.

“Preston had one bad hole on Day 1, but played pretty steady both days,” Meikle said. “He didn’t have a hole like that Saturday, so that improved his score by a few shots. I think he was pleased with his round, and I thought he played really well. Preston had a good year and really peaked at the right time.”

Slivka and Picardat were making their third straight finals appearance over the weekend, having qualified to compete again as individuals in their Division 4 regional at Muskegon County Club on May 30. The top three teams in a regional move on to compete for a team title at the state finals, while the top three individuals outside of those qualifying teams also earn a bid to compete.

Slivka, who was the low medalist at his regional, was tied for fourth overall after Friday’s first round of the finals, just three strokes off the lead.

While he opened Saturday’s round with a birdie — the first of four he’d have on the day — Slivka carded a string of bogeys to fall a bit off pace of an individual state championship.

“He had a few struggles in the middle of his round, but he still played well,” Meikle said. “It was a hot, humid day and those greens are firm, but the grass is thick. So, it’s hard to chip real accurately right around the greens.”

Slivka’s two-round score of 158 put him in a three-way tie for eighth while Clarkston Everest Collegiate’s Mitch Lowney topped the field individually with a 147 (73 and 74). Kalamazoo Hackett went on to win the Division 4 team state championship with a combined score of 652 (323 and 329).

Slivka finished with the second-lowest score among the 18 individual qualifiers.

“He had a great year, especially coming off of an injury,” Meikle said, citing an ankle injury that cut Slivka’s basketball season short this past winter. “I think it was in February when I got a phone call about his ankle injury at a basketball game, and at that point, nobody really knew how long he’d be recovering.

“But by the golf season, after a serious ankle injury, he was walking 18 holes,” he added. “For him to be able to do that and play the way he has all season was pretty impressive.”

Meanwhile, in Big Rapids, Manistee senior Jayden O’Hagan completed his golf career with the Chippewas on Saturday in the Division 3 state finals at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Course.

O’Hagan followed up Friday’s first-round 80 with an 87 on Saturday for a combined score of 167 to tie for 32nd out of more than a hundred golfers competing at the finals.

“I’m sure he was a little disappointed that he shot better the first day than the second,” said Manistee assistant coach Chad Murray, “but he did have fewer three-putts (on Saturday). He just couldn’t get as many first putts to fall.”

O’Hagan was the lone Chippewa to qualify for the state finals, doing so at a Division 3 regional in Elk Rapids on May 29. The top three teams in a regional move on to compete for a team title at the state finals, while the top three individuals outside of those qualifying teams also earn a bid to compete. O’Hagan shot the eighth best combined score among the 18 individual qualifiers over the weekend.

Hanover-Horton’s Jack Brockie won the individual state championship, carding a 73 on Friday and a 69 Saturday for a combined 142. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian won the Division 3 team state title with a combined 624 over the two rounds.

O’Hagan was making his first and final appearance at the finals.

“It’s his last season, so I think he really enjoyed being there,” Murray said. “It’s a lot to take in, but he was excited and he had fun.”

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