Country Day and Cranbrook-Kingswood girls golf reflect on state final
November 6, 2013
There they were, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood girls golf coach Mark Moyer and Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day coach Peggy Steffan watching the scores roll in Oct. 19 at the Division 3 state championship at Grand Valley State University.
They knew it would be close.
Country Day entered the second day with a 13-stroke lead, but the Cranes charged, perhaps taking advantage of the Yellowjackets’ nerves.
“We were a little surprised to have that big of a lead (after day one),” Steffan said, as Country Day shot 347 in the first round. “We were told at the coach’s meeting that the weather might be bad on Saturday and that only the first day scores would stand if we couldn’t finish. So we emphasized to the team that we had to come out strong. Although we knew in the second round, anything could happen. I knew that 13 strokes could disappear real fast.”
Moyer was also a bit surprised at the deficit his team was facing.
“I think there was a little bit of concern that we were that far back, and really because of the 360 score that we shot. That was the highest tournament score we had all year,” he said. “Yet, I reminded the girls that the conditions were pretty challenging on the field. I also pulled out some historical information on last year, when the team that was leading after the first round didn’t play as well in the second. More importantly, the team that was in fourth place came back from 18 strokes to win.
“I think (we) started to feel more comfortable and were just more familiar with the course. It obviously showed on day two.”
By the end of the second 18 holes, the Cranes had battled all the way back, shooting 347, giving them a 707 total. Country Day slipped, shooting 360, giving it a 707 total, too.
“It’s probably very (fitting) that it came down after 36 holes that we were both tied at 707,” Moyer said.
Then it became the waiting game. In the finals, each team sends out five golfers with the top four scores counting toward the team total. The tiebreaker is the total from the fifth score from each day.
With the depth on Country Day’s and Cranbrook’s rosters, each day’s fifth score came from a different golfer.
It was a handshake that let Steffan know that her team had held on for the school’s first girls golf state title.
“We were all together watching the scores come in. As they do, the scorers write them real small in pencil until they put them up officially. We were looking and could see it was tied at 707,” she said. “Then, he (Moyer) came up and shook my hand and said, ‘You guys won.’ I wasn’t positive, but I knew he wasn’t lying. That was a real nice gesture on his part.”
“I probably did it about 45 minutes before I kind of broke the news to my girls,” Moyer said. “I wanted to get to her before all the commotion and excitement, again, out of respect and the friendship as coaches.”
When it became official, Steffan said her squad was “elated.”
“They were just incredibly excited. They knew they were part of history at our school,” she said.
On the flipside, Moyer had a message for his team after learning the news.
“It was really tough, to be honest. I just reminded them that you can play the ‘what if’ game on any given day,” Moyer said. “Everyone on every team knows there were strokes and situations you could have done better, but you have to let it go. That’s golf. We did our best under the conditions, and we’ll use it ideally as a learning experience moving forward.”
Cranbrook junior Cordelia Chan won the title with a (78, 79) 157. Senior teammate Greer Clausen was second in the tournament with (83, 77) 160.
“I was really proud of Cordelia. To accomplish what she did shows she’s a hard worker 12 months a year. She was the only player to shoot in the 70s both days,” Moyer said. “On her 18-hole average, she improved six strokes from last year.”
Next season has the potential to be more of the same for the two programs. Country Day is expected to return four of its top six golfers. Cranbrook anticipates bringing back five of its top six with the graduation of Clausen.
“It’s always great to be compared to other great golf programs,” Moyer sad. “I’m sure in future years, we’ll continue to have our friendly rivalry that will come down to close competitions year in and year out.”