Redmen win both sides of GNC
ESCANABA — Despite overnight rainfall and some light misting showers during the day, the Great Northern Conference held its final event of the year to crown its champions — as well as award individual players for their year-long efforts — at the Escanaba Country Club.
Taking home both the boys’ and girls’ GNC titles were the Marquette Redmen, who finished the year on top of the points standing in both categories.
“It feels really good,” said Marquette coach Ben Smith. “For both groups, they’ve had solid, consistent years and in spring sports in the U.P. it’s hard to get things where you want them to be and it’s probably even harder to be consistently where you want to be because of the weather and tight window of the season.
“These kids have played a ton of golf in a short period of time regardless of what the weather was. I’m really happy for them to come out here and have really solid rounds.”
For this year, the GNC implemented a season-long points system to calculate team champions as well as individual champions for the conference.
Each event awarded points based on performance, with the season culminating with the 18-hole finals in Escanaba. Teams with the most points earned the team championships, while the top players for boys and girls were awarded player of the year.
Points positions 2-6 were named to the All-Conference First Team and positions 7-11 Second Team.
On the girls side, Marquette took the GNC Championship by just two points, 27-25, over the Escanaba Eskymos, with the Menominee Maroons (16) and Kingsford Flivvers (14) following in the final season standings.
Marquette finished the season with 28 points over Menominee’s 22 to earn the boys’ title. Escanaba (18), Kingsford (16) and the young Gladstone Braves (6) rounded out the standings.
The Menominee Maroons Madison Derusha and Andrew MacIntyre earned Player of the Year awards as they ended the season atop the individual standings for girls and boys.
For Derusha, a senior, the honor of GNC Player of the Year has been four years in the making.
“I’ve been waiting for it for four years now,” Derusha said. “So, it’s really exciting that it happened.
“I’m just really it happened, and I’m happy that it worked out this way.”
Derusha will have momentum on her side heading into next week’s U.P. Finals at Sweetgrass.
“I’m pretty confident with how I’ve been playing lately,” she said. “So, I’m excited to see what happens.”
Earning First Team honors for girls were Abby Luke (Marquette), Zoe Smith (Marquette), Cierra Scott (Escanaba), Grace Maki (Kingsford) and Sophie Derkos (Escanaba).
The Second Team was comprised of Addy Saunders (Marquette), Peyton Wellman (Escanaba), Annika Wangrud (Escanaba), Bryonna Saunders (Kingsford) and Maggie Meghini (Kingsford).
MacIntyre earned player of the year on the boys’ side, edging out Menominee teammate Brady Badker, the 2021 GNC Player of the Year, by half a point, 69.5-69.
“It feels really great because coming in today, I was in second place thinking I just needed to break 80 just to stay in the top five,” MacIntyre commented. “After my round, to see Brady shot what he shot, I was actually really surprised. It just felt really great today.”
Next week’s U.P. Finals for the boys are at Sage Run, and MacIntyre is confident despite his unfamiliarity with the course.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “I’ve never played the course before, but it’s looking like a good round so I’m excited for that.”
The Boys First Team was Brady Badker (Menominee), Jace Moore (Marquette), Cole Myllyla (Kingsford), Bryson Lancour (Escanaba) and Owen Riipi (Marquette).
Making up the Second Team were Brock Taylor (Marquette), Cam Rector (Marquette), Cooper Conway (Menominee), Lance Harry (Kingsford) and Adam Heikkila (Marquette).
For the 18-hole finals event, Derusha took the top spot shooting 83, 10 clear of Marquette’s Abby Luke and Escanaba’s Cierra Scott at 93. Zoe Smith (97) of Marquette and Kingsford’s Grace Maki (100) rounded out the top five.
Like Derusha, MacIntyre also copped first place at the 18-hole event carding a 71 ahead of Badker and Escanaba’s Bryson Lancour at 74 with Brock Taylor and Jace Moore of Marquette at 75.
For the Eskymos, coach Brian Robinette is happy with how things turned out for the GNC season and finale for the girls.
“We were deadlocked (with Marquette) coming in,” said Robinette. “It’s interesting how players react when they already know what they have to do before they do it. With the points, there’s no illusions, you know what you need to do. It adds that element of dealing with pressure and trying to perform under pressure and our girls did.
“I look at winning and losing in a lot of different ways, but there is a big difference between losing and somebody beating you and Marquette beat us today. We didn’t beat ourselves, we didn’t just gag and hand it over to them. Our girls played tremendously well today.”
On the boys’ side, Robinette is happy with the attitudes of the players.
“Our boys are trending really well right now,” he said. “They’re really starting to hit their stride. I’m starting to see some really good form, I’m starting to see some good attitude and I’m starting to see some really good thinking. … They’re walking around with the kind of confidence I’ve been waiting for all year.”
The boys of the GNC will battle it out at Sage Run on June 1, while the girls will play at nearby Sweetgrass for U.P. Finals.
Player of the Year — Madison Derusha, Menominee
Abby Luke, Marquette
Zoe Smith, Marquette
Cierra Scott, Escanaba
Grace Maki, Kingsford
Sophie Derkos, Escanaba
Addy Saunders, Marquette
Peyton Wellman, Escanaba
Annika Wangrud, Escanaba
Bryonna Saunders, Kingsford
Maggie Meghini, Kingsford
Player of the Year — Andrew MacIntyre, Menominee’s
Brady Badker, Menominee
Jace Moore, Marquette
Cole Myllyla, Kingsford
Bryson Lancour, Escanaba
Owen Riipi, Marquette
Brock Taylor, Marquette
Cam Rector, Marquette
Cooper Conway, Menominee
Lance Harry, Kingsford
Adam Heikkila, Marquette