By Calli Newberry
For the third year in a row, the Port Huron Northern girls golf team will be competing at the Division II state tournament after qualifying with a second-place finish at the regional on Friday, Oct. 8.
Mercy High School captured first with an overall team score of 353, but the Huskies didn’t finish too far behind with 367 points. Head coach Jessie Freed said she was proud of her players’ performances, especially considering the weather conditions.
“They handled the weather conditions really well. It was very stressful for over an hour with the fog. We thought maybe it’d clear up after two holes, but it was for over an hour. They just watched where their ball landed and walked in that general direction,” she said. “ Overall, a lot of nerves were built up that day and no one really played their best of regional day out of any team, so I was just proud of them for sticking with it.”
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Senior Madison Bajis led her team with a score of 81 to tie for second. Fellow Northern seniors Lucy Harris and Maddy Hemby tied for ninth place overall after scoring 93 points, and sophomore Amolia Rossow took 19th with a score of 100. Rounding out the Huskies top five was freshman Sophie Harris, who finished just behind Rossow with 101 points to take 21st.
“It was a struggle overall for everyone there. No one plays how they want to play at regionals. Our team score was 367, which is probably the highest, or one of the highest, 18-hole rounds we’ve had this year,” Freed said. “We’ve shot as low as 348. Everyone was so nervous and everyone just wanted to make it to state, and the weather conditions definitely didn’t help for the first six holes, but they did their best, and that’s all I can ask.”
This will be the fourth time competing in the state tournament for Bajis, who finished sixth in last year’s competition. While she continues to improve, this year presents a new challenge.
“I’ve always suffered with a sore back, that was just normal for me, but then at the county meet I twisted and felt a pop. I had to drop out of that tournament,” Bajis said. “ I went to the doctors and they said it was an aggravated rib joint and intercostal sprain. I was out for the next couple matches, and I was out and at Divisionals I couldn’t play. But after physical therapy, I can swing. My new swing is different from my old one but it works.”
Freed said she was impressed by Bajis’ performance at the regional match and will have numbing patches and IcyHot ready for this Friday.
“I was really impressed by Madi to be able to come out with that score with a hurt back, that was incredible,” Freed said. “I don’t think she’ll be healed. I think the only way for her to be fully healed is if she takes two weeks off without doing anything.
Bajis said she visited the Bedford Valley Golf Club in Battle Creek, home to the 2021 MHSAA Division 2 Lower Peninsula Finals, and is feeling more confident and excited to play on it.
“I’m hoping to place in the top 10 or better this year. I practiced the course the week following when I got hurt. I couldn’t play it but we drove around and it’s definitely a course I know I can do well at,” she said. “I’m more of a short-distance hitter. I like using my wedges as my approach shots and there’s not too much trouble to get into, there’s just sand bunkers.”
Similarly to Bajis, Freed said she’s expecting better results this weekend.
“I think they’re going to play a lot better at states because once we make it to states, we can just go and have fun and have a good experience, so I think it’s going to be a lot better than how we did at regionals,” Freed said. “Our goal for states is to be in the top 10. Last year we finished seventh, so this year we’re just going for top 10 and if we surprise ourselves that will be great.”
Competition is scheduled to begin Friday, Oct. 15 and conclude Saturday, Oct. 16 across all divisions.
Marysville senior Addison Wallace will be competing as an individual in the MHSAA Division 3 Lower Peninsula Finals at the Forest Akers West course in East Lansing, and Almont High School will be competing as a team in the Division 4 Finals at the Forest Akers East course. To follow along with live scoring, visit the iWanamaker website or download the app: https://iwanamaker.com/league/3180835