Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood boys golf coach Matt Gump admitted that he didn’t know what to expect when his squad teed off in the Division 2 state final June 15 at Ferris State University.
“I knew these guys certainly had the ability to do it, but we just hadn’t played that great over the last three weeks leading up to the finals,” he said.
In fact, the Cranes finished third in their regional just a week prior to the final, which secured the last qualifying spot.
“We had a terrific season and a fun season, but no doubt their whole year was about the state tournament,” Gump said. “There was only one place left to go, so for that group of seniors, it’s really what they pointed to all season long. Everything else really was just practice.”
The practice made perfect. Cranbrook dominated the field by firing a 588 total, 27 shots better than second-place DeWitt High.
“I was surprised. I didn’t think we did anything special, so I thought the scores would be bunched up, which they were, behind us,” Gump said. “There were several teams all year long that were close, and I thought we would be the same.”
In the final, five golfers per team tee it up; the top four scores count toward the team score.
After day one, Cranbrook led by 12 strokes. The team went on to extend the lead during the second round.
“We played better on Saturday than we did on Friday,” Gump said. “It helped to get off to a fast start, and you could see in their body language that they knew that instead of leaving the door open, they were going to get even better.”
Freshman Dylan Deogun led the way for the Cranes with a 144 (71, 73) total; senior Michael Ray fired a 146 (75, 71); junior Alex Papa carded a 147 (74, 73); senior Griffin Smith tallied a 154 (82, 72); and senior Kylee He shot a 161 (79, 82).
Individually, Deogun shot his best rounds all season and tied for fourth overall. Ray tied for seventh and Papa was tied for ninth.
For the seniors, including Gary Short, a four-year varsity member who was injured before the final, this is the culmination of close calls. The Cranes finishes second last season, seventh the year before and ninth as freshmen.
“It’s one of those special groups, and they went there to win,” Gump said. “We’ll miss them, that’s for sure.”