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Almont, Northern boast young – but promising – girls golf teams this fall

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

It might still be August, but the Blue Water Area girls golf teams are well into conference play. Let’s take a quick look at some of the leading teams and athletes in the area:

Jesse Kautz and the Almont Raiders have posted some of the most impressive scores so far. They swept their first three BWAC matches with an improved team score each time: 211, 189, and most recently, 185.

“I think we should do pretty well in the BWAC. Usually we’re winning, not by a comfortable margin, but by a fair number of strokes for each match,” head coach Mark Bone said. “We want to work our way to regionals and perform well at regionals and get back to states.”

Kautz, a junior, finished last season undefeated in the league and so far this fall, she’s on track to repeat. She shot a best of 38 last week at the Hampton Golf Club in Rochester Hills.

Another Raider we should be watching for is sophomore Olivia Kotelnicki. She shot a 60 in her first BWAC competition and has since improved to a career-low 45, taking second place overall in the last two matches.

“Olivia, she’s stepping up. She’s been taking lessons and her swing’s looking better. In the last two matches her score’s just been getting better. Her ‘golf game’ is getting better,” Bone said. “I’m pretty sure that’s her career-low by a few strokes. That’s huge.”

Bone said that after a pep talk about planning and course management, Kotelnicki’s approach seemed to change, clearly for the better. He said one of the best parts was seeing her smile as she played.

Lutheran North West, which joins the BWAC in girls golf, has the second-best team average with 229. North Branch, which has only played in two of the three matches so far, ranks third with a team average of 231; Armada fourth with 233; Yale fifth with 237; and Richmond sixth with 248.

Almont senior Bella Moussiaux is another consistent leader within the league with a three-match average of 51. Yale senior Jessica Upleger has led the Bulldogs so far, improving each match to average 52 strokes. And Richmond sophomore Jaelyn Jozwiak boasts an average of 54 strokes.

In the MAC, Port Huron Northern is competing in the MAC-Red again. Last fall the Huskies finished 6-1 in league play to tie for first overall with Grosse Pointe South.

Head coach Jessie Freed said that after losing senior Madi Bajis – who placed eighth in the state last year – she thought this would be a big rebuilding year, but her young team is proving to be capable of great things.

“We knew that we were going to have our work cut out for us this year, but so far it’s been good. This team is capable of doing really well, so we’re just hoping we improve as the season goes on,” Freed said. “There are at least four girls who are very capable of shooting into the mid-40s, we just have to execute it one day.”

Yesterday the Huskies played in their first league match against Macomb Dakota and Utica Eisenhower. While they outplayed Eisenhower quite handily, their match with Dakota ended with a pleasant surprise.

“We knew going in we’d be close with [Dakota], and since we have live scoring you can watch the whole match. Well, it showed we were down by 20, so I had written the match off, but there was an issue with someone not putting their score in,” Freed said.

Once the scores were corrected within the app, instead of trailing by 20, Northern won by five – 201 strokes to 206.

Sophomore Sophie Harris led the Huskies with a match-low 48 strokes to place third overall. Five of her teammates joined in the top 10: junior Ella Beck (50), junior Addison Lyons (50), senior Jacqueline Tanner (53), freshman Pearl Porrett (55), and freshman Annalyse Ichenberg (56).

“[Porrett] has only been playing for two and a half weeks and she shot a 55 yesterday, so that was amazing and kind of a highlight that somebody who just picked up golf clubs could do that,” Freed said. “She’s a very athletic girl and you can tell she wants to do well. She’s always asking me for tips and I actually gave her my old driver that I used in high school because hers broke the other day, and she was pounding it yesterday so I think we’ll let her keep that.”

And Marysville, which is playing in the MAC-White, took on the reigning MAC-White champion Utica Stevenson last Friday for its first league match of the season. The Vikings fell 188 strokes to 229, but junior Gabrielle Basic was able to crack the top five with an impressive team-leading 49 strokes.

The next BWAC match will be on Sept. 8, hosted by North Branch at the Castle Creek Golf Club. Northern is playing its second league match tonight against Dakota at the Sycamore Hills Golf Club and Marysville is playing on its home course against Lakeview.

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