The Utica Eisenhower girls golf team celebrates with the trophy after winning a Division 1 regional tournament Oct. 8 at Heather Hills Golf Club.

The Utica Eisenhower girls golf team celebrates with the trophy after winning a Division 1 regional tournament Oct. 8 at Heather Hills Golf Club.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Eisenhower girls golf takes home regional title

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published October 14, 2019

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — For the third straight year, the Utica Eisenhower girls golf team has qualified for the state finals. This year, the Eagles shot a 355 and topped the field to win a Division 1 regional tournament Oct. 8 at Heather Hills Golf Club.

Ike beat second-place finisher Rochester Hills Stoney Creek by seven strokes and third-place finisher Macomb Dakota by eight.

Eagles coach Jerry Griesbeck said winning this tournament fulfilled a goal his team has had since last season ended.

“They were there (at the state finals) last year, and that was pretty much their goal this year was to go back,” he said. “That was what they wanted to do, and they pointed all year toward that tournament.”

Ariel Chang shot a 74 on the day, which was the lowest of anyone in the field. Following her was Alexis Sharplin’s 86, Allison Gottshall’s 94, Hannah Dunn’s 101 and Kayla Lease’s 120.

With the exception of Lease, every other Ike golfer participated in a regional tournament last season, and all four golfers improved on their previous year’s score.

One performance that caught the coach’s eye was that of Sharplin. The junior improved by five strokes on last year’s 91.

“She was very focused and had a good round,” Griesbeck said. “She’s really a quiet girl, but you could just tell by looking at her face, she had a big grin because she had just accomplished something that she was really nervous about doing.”

Playing and performing well in an elimination-type setting can bode well for a team’s confidence heading into the state finals. The Eagles will participate in the Division 1 state final Oct. 18-19 at Forest Akers West on the campus of Michigan State University.

When the Eagles played in the state finals last season, they shot a 724 and finished in 10th place overall. Griesbeck said his team was lacking that much-needed confidence, but as recent practices have shown, the players are “exceptionally focused” on what they are trying to achieve.

“They all feel that they belong there, and they didn’t have that feeling last year,” the coach said. “They are comfortable playing in a tournament where every team there is good. They have a confidence about them that they did not have last year.”

The 10th-place finish in 2018 was an improvement on 2017, when the Eagles shot a 739 and finished 13th overall.

“While they understand that they finished 10th in the state, pretty much in the middle of the pack, their goal is better than that and that’s what they’re shooting for,” Griesbeck said. “They want to be in the top five.”

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