Frankenmuth Lady Eagles – Div 4 State Finals – The Meadows – Allendale @ GVSU
In my 8 years with our program, I have seen some horrible conditions to play golf, but Day 2 was the worst I have seen. I have seen slightly colder conditions, but this combination of strong rain, wind gusts up to 45 mph, just made the temperature that much worse. You really needed the right gear to be successful in these conditions. We are super proud of our Lady Eagles, as well as the rest of the field. Most people wouldn’t leave their house to go to the grocery store in these conditions, let alone play golf! From the morning warm-ups to completing their round. ..Subtracting the hour delay due to thunder… I estimate our players were on their feet in the elements for about 8 hours! This shows how tough you need to be to play high school golf, both physically, and even more importantly, mentally.
I was excited to see how we would place at the Finals, since our team was really striking the ball well the last few weeks. They needed that confidence playing in these extremely windy conditions. The Meadows is a lot like The Fortress in Frankenmuth. It’s very open with few trees to break the wind, and lots of tall fescue along the fairways. Even with the conditions, our Lady Eagles scored below their season average, shooting a 379 on day 1, and 391 on Day 2, finishing 6th overall! Day 1 was windy, but not as cold, with only light rain periodically.
I was super proud of our 2 lone Seniors, Sophia Lee and Hannah Wenzel. Neither of them had played golf prior to join the high school team. Sophia joined as a Freshman, and Hannah didn’t join until her Sophomore year. Most of our players over the years have never played golf prior to joining our program. We pride ourselves on giving everyone the opportunity to play, and they can take it as far as they want from there. Sophia and Hannah are great examples.
This was our 5th straight year to qualify for the state finals, and 5th straight year to finish in the top-10! (6th top-10 in last 7 years). This was our 3rd best finish for our program, behind our 3rd and 4th place finishes. As Frankenmuth’s Brad Redford mentioned in a recent speech in Frankenmuth, “work to make the Abnormal become normal.” Our ladies have built the program to where we now had 4 of our players that have played in the state finals in prior years. The State Finals have now become more normal, but the ladies know the work it takes year-round to make it that way.
Sophia is a great success story. She has had to overcome 3 major back surgeries over her short 4 years, each taking 8 months of recovery. She has not let that be an excuse in her 4 years. To see all that work and dedication culminate in leading our team in scoring at the state finals, is just amazing. Sophia shot below her season average of 95 by shooting a 94 on day 1, and incredibly, improving her Day-2 score with a 93, even with the horrible scoring conditions! Sophia ended up placing 19th out of the field of 108.
Our other senior, Hannah Wenzel, also beat her season average by shooting a 101 and 107. Hannah came in as our 5th player, but her ball striking was the best I have ever seen from her. This girl is just a fighter. She was determined to play well at the state finals, and the weather was not going to stop her. It was a joy to watch her continue to make shots and see her enjoying each round in the horrible conditions. Hannah ended up finishing tied for 54th overall.
Junior Katelyn Piesko was another joy to watch both days. She beat her season average easily shooting a 95 and 93, and finishing Tied for 20th overall. It was expecially satisfying to see Katelyn finally score well, expecially at the state finals. She to had been striking the ball very well, but had not seen the improvement in her scoring. As I have told every one of the our lead golfers over the years, her ball striking and mechanics have been strong the last few, weeks, just be patient, and the scores will come. They came this weekend! She to just kept make great shot after great shot. I see Katelyn’s game continuing to improve for her senior year next year.
Sophomore Ella Smith has been out lead player all year. She had very solid rounds of 91 and 98, just off her season average of 90. I was very proud of how Ella stayed focused and played hard ‘til the end, even though her scores were off from where she wanted to finish. Ella finished strong placing 22nd overall. As a Sophomore, that is great finish.
Sophomore Leah Nielsen had a strong first day shooting below her season average with a 99, but some bad breaks her second day resulting in 115, and good enough to place her tied for 71st in the field. Leah was our only player this year playing in the State Finals for the first time. So, this is great experience for her going forward, being only a Sophomore. I see great improvements and scores in Leah’s future as well!