Source: Hometown Life
Author: Dan O'Meara
The Farmington Hills Mercy golf team is making big strides late in the season and is planning for a peak performance next week in the Division 1 state tournament.
The Marlins and Livonia Stevenson tied for first place Wednesday in the regional event at Dearborn Country Club with four-player totals of 328.
The Spartans were awarded the team title, however, based on a fifth-person tiebreaker. Stevenson had a 91 and Mercy a 98.
"They beat us at Fox Hills, and they beat us at Glen Oaks. We tied them this time," Mercy coach Vicky Kowalski said. "We're making progress; we've closed the gap. Hopefully, next week we can get ahead of them."
The state meet will be played Oct. 14-15 at Forest Akers East on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing.
"I still think we're trending in the right direction," Kowalski said. "We'll hope for our best score of the year one of the two days next weekend."
She also complimented the Spartans, who have seven seniors and a lot of experience on their team.
"All the kids came in as freshmen," Kowalski said. "They had very little experience. They've grown together through the years. It took them three years, but now they're playing quite well as seniors."
The Marlins were led by sophomore Mia Sooch, who followed up her Catholic League medalist performance with an even-par 72 to capture the individual regional championship.
Mercy sophomore Sophie Vanderweele was fourth (80), senior Marissa Lobbia fifth (84) and junior Maddie Rennie 14th (92). Vanderweele and Lobbia joined Sooch on the all-regional team.
"Mia is just on fire," Kowalski said. "I think they're going to have to pay attention to her for all-state. (The Catholic League and regional) are big events the committee looks at when selecting the all-state team.
"Sophie is really steady; she's between 78 and 82 consistently. Marissa had some scores that were a little higher a few weeks ago, and they're coming down. She's always between 79 and 84 now.
"Maddie Rennie is coming on, too. She had a 94 on Tuesday and said: 'I'm going to beat that.' That's going to keep us in the 320s as a team score."
Rochester won its regional with a state-record score of 289 and is the favorite to win the state title, according to Kowalski.
"After that everybody is in the mix," she said. "It's who is going to come to the forefront and play their best. I think it's pretty wide open.
"There are a lot of teams that can shoot in the 320s or break 320, but they don't do it all the time. It's whoever can be on top of their game next week. I think it's going to be interesting."
Kowalski added the team scores have greatly improved since the Marlins won state titles in 1999 and 2001. Mercy shot respective rounds of 350-328 and 355-343 in those years.
"That's not going to get you anywhere today," Kowalski said. "That's what has happened to girls golf over the years. Those of us who've been around long enough remember when we were happy to break 400. Now, if you can't break 350, forget it. Nowadays, it's a regular occurrence to break 350."