Rochester girls golf returns to state finals, places third as team

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Rochester Post | Published December 19, 2022

 Rochester girls golf took third at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 State Finals on Oct. 15 at Bedford Valley, in Battle Creek.

Rochester girls golf took third at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 State Finals on Oct. 15 at Bedford Valley, in Battle Creek.

Photo provided by the Rochester High School golf team


ROCHESTER HILLS — Rochester girls golf made its return to the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 State Finals and put the division and the state on notice with its play.

Once state champions back in 2016, Rochester had failed to make the MHSAA Division 1 State Finals since the 2017 season.

Led by sophomore Madison Yang, who qualified for the 2021 state finals as an individual golfer, Rochester took third in a field of 18 teams Oct. 15 at Bedford Valley in Battle Creek.

Rochester tallied a 681 score over two rounds of play with Yang, who shot an 80 on both days, earning 10th place. Yang, who earned first team all-state honors, finished 18th last year at the state finals.

“She’s just an overall good player,” Rochester coach Jeff Haney said. “She hits it a long way; she’s a good ball striker.”

Freshman Ananya Kumar was a young star for Rochester this season, and she carried her consistent scores into the state finals with a 91 and an 87, respectively.

While Kumar’s arrival to the varsity squad was long awaited, Haney said Kumar and junior Natalie Haise solidified the Rochester lineup for this season.

Haise had a breakout season for Rochester as she solidified the fourth spot for the season, and an 82 in the first round of the state finals showcased a potential senior star for next year.

“I knew we had three pretty solid players, but adding the freshman (Ananya Kumar) in and having Natalie (Haise) become our four and her shooting in the 80s was big for us,” Haney said. “It ultimately made the difference.”

Junior Brooke Haney held down the third spot for Rochester, shooting an 81 and an 86 at the state finals.

Rochester had a slight advantage over some of the teams in the field due to their preparation in the offseason. Bedford Valley holds a tough layout for inexperienced golfers, so Haney said he gave his team a chance to prepare themselves in the summer.

“We really, really prepared well, and what I mean by that is that in the summer, there was a Callaway tournament in Bedford Valley, so I put it out to the girls,” Haney said. “Six of our girls came in the practice round, and four of our girls played in the tournament the next day. By the time they played that course, we knew that course.”

The young squad had question marks across the board with a lack of senior leadership and young talent asked to anchor the points, but Rochester proved itself early.

Haney said the Patriot Cup Tournament Sept. 2 at the Fortress paved the way for Rochester’s season as the team placed third overall against a tough lineup of teams.

“At that point I realized we were good enough to be one of the top few teams at the state finals if we played our game,” Haney said.

Rochester would tally an 8-1 record in head-to-head meets, a second-place finish in the Oakland Activities Association-Red league meet and regionals meet, and a third-place finish at the Oakland County Championship.

Yang finished first at the Region 5 Championship at Metamora Country Club Oct. 5, shooting a 70. Kumar and Haney tied for 10th with 83.

Returning their top-four golfers and momentum from their state finals finish, Rochester will look to be title contenders in 2023.

“Based on looking at the state finals, us, Brighton and Adams should all have a good chance of being right back at the top again,” Haney said. “I think our expectation and our goal is to try and compete for the state championship.”