Esky’s daughters lead the UP D1 finals | News, Sports, Jobs

Justin Saint-Ours | Daily Press The Escanaba Women’s Golf Team poses with their D1 UP Girls Golf Finals trophy Wednesday at Sweetgrass Golf Course in Harris. Pictured L-R: Sophia Derkos, Peyton Wellman, Annika Wangrud, Cierra Scott, Maddie Wilson and Escanaba assistant coach Jake Berlinski.

HARRIS — Perseverance paid off for the Escanaba girls here on Wednesday as they captured their first Upper Peninsula Division 1 golf title in four years with 411 strokes.

They were followed by Negaunee 417 and Marquette 422, Westwood 431 and two-time defending champion Menominee 440.

“The girls have really succeeded” said Esky’s assistant coach Jake Berlinski. “Last year they were playing for the first time. This year is a bit different. They have made it a sport that they really care about. We ask a lot of these girls. They miss a lot of school, which is stressful for them. We’ve asked them to be away two days a week for the past five weeks.

Esky junior Cierra Scott took fourth place with 90 shots, finishing two spots higher than a year ago.

“I was more consistent in my long game” she says. “My practices were pretty good today, but the putting is something I need to work on. At the start of this season, winning the team title was the top priority. Our team has improved so much. We were behind Marquette all year. A lot of people doubted us and we wanted to show what we were made of. We just kept playing our game.”

Negaunee junior Rachel Niskanen, who shot an 82, earned her first title with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.

Menominee senior Madison Derusha had a chance to force a playoff holeshot then narrowly missed an 18-foot eagle putt before settling for second-place honors at 83.

“I started par on the back nine and then double-bogeyed the next three holes,” said Niskanen, who led by six shots at a time on the back nine. “We both had bogeys.

“She was five down before the 11th. It was really intense. I just tried to take it one step at a time and reminded myself that I couldn’t change the past. I just had to focus on the future. On the 18th hole, I could have gone for it, then I decided to play it safe.

Derusha, whose shot for the eagle came out of the cup, plans to continue playing golf at Michigan State University.

“It’s a bit bittersweet” she says. “It would have been nice to get the eagle, but it was still nice to get a birdie on my last high school hole. We were both as nervous as can be. I have to stay as positive as possible and be proud of how I finished. I’m going to golf in a club the first year. Then I’ll play varsity golf as a sophomore. It will be a big learning curve.

Westwood senior Jillian Koski, who holed the No. 12 hole-in-one in Tuesday’s practice round, finished third with 89 on a sunny, balmy Wednesday at Sweetgrass Golf Club.

“On the front nine, I had a 40,” said Koski, who will also attend MSU this fall to major in business management. “My putts were going really well, then my putts weren’t falling on the back nine anymore. I was nervous. I wanted to do as well as on the front nine. I won’t play college golf, but Madi and I will be roommates at Michigan State. And we’ll play recreational golf together. I think it will be fun.

Iron Mountain’s Redeit Husing was fifth at 93, three shots ahead of Scott.

“My putts weren’t very good, but you’ll never get a perfect round,” said Scott. “You can get close to it, even though it’s very unlikely that you’ll get that perfect round. I wasn’t playing my best golf at the start of the season and I was getting depressed. Then I kind of changed my mentality .

Berlinski often refers to Scott as captain.

“Last year we weren’t sure we would have a full team” he said. “Cierra recruited players and brought them with her. She deserved this name. Cierra struggled early in the season and shot scores that were uncharacteristic of him, but good players find a way through that stuff, and Cierra eventually played his best golf. It’s a nice feather in the hat for someone who is inspiring to be a college golfer. She will play somewhere. She will find a home.

“I appreciate the casino for allowing us to use their facilities here and at Sage Run and for hosting the UP Finals here.”

Marquette’s coach, Ben Smith, was pleased with how the day went.

“The course is in excellent condition (at the Island Resort & Casino), and we had great weather for the tournament,” he added. “Although that doesn’t mean it will be easy to play golf there. There were some good scores there. Our numbers were pretty good. Credit to Escanaba. All year they played pretty solid, and Negaunee had a very good score. We have such a short season here. The weather sometimes makes it difficult, but the weather was great here today.

UP Division 1 Girls Golf Finals

At Sweetgrass Golf Club

All-Tournament Team – 1, Rachel Niskanen, Negaunee, 82; 2, Madison Derusha, Menominee, 83; 3, Jillian Koski, Westwood, 89; 4, Cierra Scott, Escanaba, 90; 5, Redeit Husing, Iron Mountain, 93.

Escanaba (411) – Close Scott 90, Sophie Derkos 100, Peyton Wellman 108, Annika Wangrud 113.

Negaunee (417) – Rachel Niskanen 82, Summer Dudo 109, Marissa Hird and Daylyn Drew 113.

Marquette (422) — Abby Luke 97, Zoe Smith 99, Addy Saunders 111, Lexi Smith 115.

Westwood (431) – Jillian Koski 89, Laci Moffatt 95, Kalle Keranen 121, Kaytlin Williams 128.

Menominee (440) – Madison Derusha 83, Hanna Drifka 117, Marin Park 119, Mackenzie Doyle 121.

Kingsford (444) – Grace Maki 103, Bryonna Sanders 105, Ella Rizzo 117, Maggie Menghini 119.

Houghton (499) – Keegan Leonard 120, Meghan Trewhella 125, Tara Scullion 126, Micaela Geborkoff 128.

Calumet (562) — Lily Kargela 119, Ryleigh Johnson 134, Kadence Stites 151, Allie Alger 158.

Sault Ste. Marie (575) — Elizabeth Ohman 120, Grace Swanson 130, Ava Stark 162, Lexi Landis 163.

Ironwood (609) – Ella Darrow 120, Madison Sterbenz 137, Hannah Castillo 171, Yoho Sin 181.

Iron Mountain (NTS) – Redeit Husing 93, Natalia Brown 122, Bella Rosenthal 135.

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