Esky girls impressive at quadrangular meet

ESCANABA – A long-awaited golf opener became a successful one for the Escanaba girls Monday as they won a quadrangular meet with 399 strokes at the Escanaba Country Club.

They were followed by Marquette 432, Gladstone 435 and Kingsford 517.

Esky junior Kelsey Motto and senior Jalyn Dagenais shot 91s on this mostly cloudy and mild day. Abbey Strom hit 103 and Payton Shelafoe had 114

“I like a lot of what I saw from our girls today,” said Esky coach Brian Robinette. “If you’re going to win titles, you need four players who are going to be consistent. This is not surprising. We felt that’s where we should be. We can tell Kelsey and Jalyn put a lot of time into their game last summer and it’s going to pay off for them. With the other girls, there’s still things we can work on. Abbey has a great attitude about the sport and we feel Payton has the biggest upswing right now. Payton played real good on the back nine.”

Marquette senior Avery Rochester, however, recorded the day’s best score at 76. She hit 40 on the front nine, followed by an even-par 36 on the back nine.

Rochester hit a birdie on hole No. 10 and remained a stroke under par on the back nine until she bogeyed No. 15. Rochester then parred the remaining holes.

“After the first five holes, I started playing pretty good,” said Rochester, who enters this season as defending Upper Peninsula Division 1 champion. “It was just a matter of getting back into the flow of things. It was definitely good to get this meet in and get rid of the nerves for the rest of the year.”

Rochester, who also captured the U.P. Ladies’ Golf Association title last summer, practiced on this course with several of her teammates on Saturday.

“I definitely think that helped me a lot,” said Rochester, who has a scholarship to play golf at Columbia College in Missouri next season. “I also went to Northern’s golf course on Sunday because it was open and worked on my chipping and putting.

“I think this course is in real good shape considering it opened just three days ago. The greens are in real nice shape and the weather was great.”

Marquette coach Ben Smith says he appreciates Rochester’s leadership.

“Avery is very valuable to our team,” he added. “She’s on the course all the time. She’s definitely rewarded for the time she puts in.”

Rochester’s closest challenger was Gladstone junior Callie Jensen, who fired an 83.

“That’s a good score,” Braves’ coach Dane Quigley said of Jensen’s round. “Callie is a very talented and has a good golf swing. I think she has the talent to be among the top golfers in the U.P. As a team, we’re a work in progress. We need to manage ourselves a little better on the course.”

The Marquette A boys won a five-school meet, edging Esky A 336-337. Iron Mountain A placed third at 356.

“For the first time being on a golf course this year, we did okay,” said Iron Mountain coach Bucky Johnson. “We still don’t have a lineup set. We usually don’t come to this meet, but I glad Escanaba invited us to come over. This gave us a chance to see where we’re at.”

Gladstone freshman Adam Scheeneman and Marquette’s Mike McGee shared medalist honors at 78. They were followed by Esky junior Nick Laviolette and Gladstone senior Ben Lasecki with 80.

“Adam had a wonderful round of golf,” said Quigley. “He was real consistent. He shot 39 on the front and back nine. Ben had a nice round and Kyle Pouliot was also in the mix for medalist (with an 81).

“Today, we went with a group of upperclassmen and a group of underclassmen. I’m excited about what I saw from this team today.”

The opener was little bit of a learning experience for the Esky boys, who don’t have any seniors.

“At this time of year, we try to take everything with little bit of a grain of salt,” said Robinette. “We just try to make sure our decision-making is sound. I like our depth. I think there’s a high ceiling for improvement. It just felt good to get out and play some golf. This gives us something to build on.”

Esky freshman Dylan Gauthier, who sustained a laceration in his upper leg in hockey, has received clearance from a doctor in Ann Arbor to play golf but did not play Monday as he is still unable to walk the full course.

“Dylan is close to being able to come back and play,” said Robinette. “We’re going to check with the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association) to see if we can get a cart for Dylan. He needs that in order to play.”