farm-bureau-ads-home2-banner-120x975png

PUBLISHER’S VIEWPOINT: Miracle on Twin Lakes links or integrity chipped off the course? You decide

| June 6, 2018 | Comments (1)

OAKLAND TWP. — Integrity.

It is a trait that should be involved with everything in life but sometimes is an oversight.

In the arena of sports, integrity is a big part of the game. Athletes, coaches, administrators or even in college and pro sports, general managers and owners alike are all deeply engaged with the hopes that everyone involved has integrity — to do things right at every level of play, in every position, at every turn.

With every shot, stroke, kick, swing … You get the picture.

From an owner or athletics director down to the coach, to the athlete, the scorekeeper and statistician — everyone has a part to play in sports. Have someone along the line not act with integrity and things can become skewed in a hurry.

Integrity is a big part of sports such as golf and tennis, where there are not usually an official glancing at every stroke on the course or every serve on the court to see if it actually lands between the correct lines. Volleyball could fall in this category, too, as sometimes with the speed of the ball so quick, having a qualified individual in place to be a line judge — one that pays attention and views with integrity — is surely needed.

Ever heard the terms in sports that every point, every stroke, every inch counts?

How about track and field? Having meet workers take down the correct distance in an event such as shot put and discus can make a world of difference. Every quarter, even eighth of an inch truly does count and can be the difference between qualifying for a state meet or national meet — even the Olympics — or not, or placing at an invitational or not placing at a particular meet.

Perhaps in basketball the statistician can jot down or implement stats correctly into the software so the end result is that the stats totals and averages are accurate — and if a record occurs, it can be recorded as legitimate. Surely the temptation is there to add an occasional mark or two in the rebounds or shot blocks column without anyone noticing. Sure it happens that someone does not act with integrity.

When an athlete or team records something noteworthy, it is something to cheer about. As long as it was accomplished with honesty, with integrity. Everyone should carry out their part for accuracy. No adding to distances, no shaving strokes, no calling shots in-between the lines that were not, no adding stats to embellish a performance.

Again, when no one is looking, surely there is temptation for someone to not work with integrity. It is known fact that over the years pro and college basketball players have been paid off to shave points so a high-level gambler can make money off the bets. Doesn’t happen often, or at least proven all that often, but this act has occurred.

All of this makes a recent high school event in Michigan so impressive that it’s hard to believe. An event that has many coaches and golfers placing the official results in question. So impressive that the statistics, the history and averages simply do not support the final result.

Statistically, an event like this is something in the neighborhood of winning the Powerball multiple times.

Could an act of God actually taken place May 30 at the MHSAA Division 1 boys golf actually taken place? Or was there some players and teams acting without integrity or acting with collusion? Either or, something quite unusual happened that day and on that site.

The regional field at Twin Lakes Golf Course — which has regularly hosted boys golf and girls golf regionals since opening back in the 1990s — featured one ranked team, two others that had been ranked earlier in the season and a host of other average teams or below average teams in the 19-school field.

On record, unranked New Baltimore Anchor Bay posted a play-five, count-four team score of 284 — that’s a blistering 284 — which falls under the category as one of the lowest teams scores ever turned in by a prep boys golf team in Michigan High School Athletic Association lore.

Based on research looking at websites, the lowest team score on record was a 281 posted by state powerhouse Novi Detroit Catholic Central in the second round of the 2010 Division 1 state finals. The Shamrocks finished at 288-281—569 that year, the very best state finals result ever turned in — and that was by a powerhouse program that has claimed five state titles in the past 15 years and is a regular state qualifier for the past quarter century.

Looking back over the past 23 seasons, Anchor Bay had never reached the state finals as a team and had not posted scores anywhere near that level — this year or in the past. The Tars did have three individual state qualifiers in that long, 23-year span, but none of those athletes finished high at state or earned All-State honors. And the school’s most recent postseason success came at the 2014 regional, when the Tars placed fourth at 324.

The same team shot a season-best 322 at the MAC Blue Division conference tournament a couple of weeks prior to this year’s regional. Again, the aforementioned Anchor Bay posted one of the top team scores in state history at the regional — which included individual rounds of 68, 68, 73, 75 and 79.

This year the Tars also placed fifth at the Macomb County Division I Tournament (340) and sixth at the Evan Gill Tournament (346) — no where near the eye-popping 284 on the regional scoresheet. In 2017, Anchor Bay also posted a 342 at the regional and placed 11th on the same course.

But let’s get back to that.

Regional runner-up and unranked Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse shot an amazing 296, again the second-best regional score in the state that regional week on Twin Lakes — an above-average tough course that has long fairways and fairly quick greens. Very few schools, in both boys golf and girls golf, have ever even broken the 300 barrier at Twin Lakes and the schools that have done so were state title contenders with multiple All-State players and college prospects on their rosters.

L’Anse Creuse, a school that had not qualified a team or individual for the state finals for the previous 23 seasons, according to MHSAA.com, had broken 320 only once this season — shooting a 313 in finishing second at the MAC White Division tourney, according to www.migca.com.

The Lancers, who posted individual regional rounds of 72, 73, 74,77 and 83, only placed ninth at the Macomb County Tournament (357), ninth at the Evan Gill Tournament (357) and fifth at the Eastwood Invite (332) earlier this season. L’Anse Creuse placed 14th at the same regional and course last season at 358, a 62-stroke improvement this year (296) over last year. 

Fraser, which placed a surprising sixth at the regional this season at 313, didn’t have any tournament scores from earlier in the season found on-line at www.migca.com and its regional result was somewhat puzzling. The school finished 19th at the same regional last year (373).

The Ramblers, who had not qualified a team or individual for state in the past quarter century, did have an individual state qualifier this year — an individual that carded a 73 at the regional and a quality score that was 26 strokes better than his 99 effort last year.

In MAC Gold Division competition, the MAC’s fourth tier for boys golf, Fraser was only fourth in the final dual match standings at 4-3.

Ironically, those aforementioned three teams were paired together for the regional tournament at Twin Lakes and were not expected to challenge for qualifying berths.

A protest was applied by other coaches at the regional, but to no avail. The two GAM representatives and the appeals committee on site could not find any errors on the score sheets and there was no video evidence turned in on any wrong-doings.

Fourth-ranked and regional favorite Lake Orion finished third at the regional (308), while Rochester Adams (310) and Bloomfield Hills (312), two programs that had cracked the rankings earlier in the season and have a long history of talent in boys golf, just missed the state berths. Fraser placed sixth at 313, five strokes off a berth, and Macomb Dakota was seventh at 322 — the same Dakota team that defeated L’Anse Creuse by 17 strokes at the recent MAC-White tournament.

For the record, Fraser’s individual regional scores came back at 73, 77, 79, 84 and 97. And although the Ramblers did not qualify as a team, posted scores of 89, 90, 95, 99 and 101 last year to draw a comparison.

So the question to ask is what happened at Twin Lakes that was so magical for these three schools that few other non-ranked teams in this regional or any other team in the state’s four divisions enjoyed during that three-day regional week? Especially considering that these schools in question have little-to-no history in the past quarter century in boys golf to post these type of impressive scores.

The athletics directors at these three schools did not return phone calls to NorthOaklandSports.com to verify if there was any internal investigation. No other coaches from schools that competed in the regional went on record, or could go on record per their respective athletics directors requests.

Cody Inglis, who administrates boys golf for the MHSAA for the past four years, said that this type of protest was unheard of in the past.

“Every rule set by the MHSAA and MIGCA were applied and they could not find any hard evidence of any wrong-doing,” said Inglis.

“We have been working with the schools involved over the past several days trying to come up with something, any type of resolution,” added Inglis. “Integrity is something discussed every year and I’m certain it will be discussed at meetings this summer.”

But the MHSAA has its hands tied, because even if there was any wrong-doings, there was no hard evidence and no rules in place to DQ an entire team. Or replay the regional. Or add the fourth or fifth place regional team to the state finals field, which is what a large group of parents proposed to the MHSAA last weekend.

That act would be unprecedented and simply open up Pandora’s box in the future for every time there is a protest at the regional level of MHSAA golf tournaments.

So let’s take a look at some other numbers around the state and see where these unranked schools in question fall into the equation.

— The only other school to break 300 on regional week at all of the state’s 24 regions spreading all four divisions was Division 2 East Grand Rapids, ranked eighth in the state. The Trojans shot an impressive 298 at their regional.

Even Grosse Pointe South, the Division 1 state runner-up the past two seasons and the top ranked team in D-1 for most of the season, shot just 300 at the regional.

Most qualifying schools in D-1 and D-2 shot between 300 and 325, while in the small-school divisions, D-3 and D-4, very few broke 320.

— Let’s break down Division 1 during regional week:

Excluding the team and individual regional scores turned in by Anchor Bay, L’Anse Creuse or Fraser, eight of the top 10 ranked teams advanced to the state finals.

Grosse Pointe South (No. 1, 300), Birmingham Seaholm (No. 3, 312), Lake Orion (No. 4, 308), Birmingham Brother Rice (No. 5 , 311), Rockford (No. 6, 310), Detroit Catholic Central (No. 7, 315), Hartland (No. 9, 303) and Northville (No. 10, 311) all qualified.

Portage Central sophomore Will Anderson posted the top individual regional score in the state, all four divisions combined, with a 66. One other D-1 player shot 68, two carded rounds of 71, three more 72s and eight players shot rounds of 73.

— Let’s break down Division 2: Following East Grand Rapids’ top effort of 298, all 10 ranked schools advanced out of their respective regionals. Top-ranked Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (317), No. 2 Flint Powers Catholic (303), No. 3 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood (315), No. 4 Gaylord (311), No. 5 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (302), No. 6 DeWitt (305), No. 7 Wayland Union (312), No. 8 EGR, No. 9 Mattawan (327) and No. 10 Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern (321) all advanced.

Additionally, unranked Orchard Lake St. Mary’s shot 308 at its regional.

On the individual side, DeWitt’s Charlie DeLong, a returning All-State player, had the top regional score in D-2 with a 70.

— Let’s break down Division 3: Fourth-ranked Hanover-Horton shot 313, while No. 2  Big Rapids posted a 314 and No. 8 Grand Rapids West Catholic carded 315 at the regional level. Top-ranked and tradition-rich Grosse Ile, which has won five state titles overall, shot 331 in winning its regional. Only five of the state qualifying schools broke 330.

On the individual side, Napoleon’s Evan Brzyski and Big Rapids’ Pierce Morrissey both posted rounds of 71 at their regionals to lead the way.

— Let’s break down Division 4: Top-ranked Grand Rapids North Pointe Christian shot 314, while No. 3 Clarkston Everest Collegiate, the two-time defending team state champion, carded a 316. Second-ranked Suttons Bay posted a 329 at its regional, while all of the other state-qualifying schools shot higher than 333.

Individually, Everest Collegiate’s Mitch Lowney shot a division-best 70, while two other players carded 71 from other regionals.

— Season’s Low Score: Clarkston, ranked second in Division 1 entering regional week, posted the lowest team score of the regular season at 288 up until regional week — an extreme rarity for a school to break even 290. The Wolves, sadly, had a rough day at the regional and missed by one stroke playing in perhaps the deepest D-1 regional and trailed three other state ranked schools.

Additionally, D-1 eighth-ranked Warren DeLaSalle finished fourth behind three ranked teams at its regional and missed on a fifth-man tie-breaker with Seaholm.

One can clearly see the patterns of the state’s top teams and individuals and nothing out of the ordinary happened with unranked teams putting up incredible numbers elsewhere outside of the Twin Lakes regional.

So did something magical happen on the course of Twin Lakes on May 30 for some 15 young men? Or did something else occur? Perhaps these scores really did occur and was an unexplained anomaly.

For those who follow high school sports, or suit up as an athlete, coach, official or an administrator, based on the long list of aforementioned stats, please come to your own conclusion.

You make the call.

Integrity.

(Dan Stickradt is a veteran sports journalist now in his 26th year covering prep sports in Michigan. He can be reached via email at dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com. Follow on multiple social media platforms, including Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)

Tags: , , , ,

Category: All Area Teams, Auburn Hills Avondale, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, Clarkston, Clarkston Everest Catholic, Clarkston Springfield Christian, Editor's Column, Golf, High School, High School (M-Z), Holly, Lake Orion, Lake Orion Baptist, Lake Orion Shalom Baptist, Most Recently Updated Stories, NOS reference, Ortonville Brandon, Pontiac, Pontiac Academy of Excellence, Pontiac Arts & Technology Academy, Pontiac Michigan School For The Arts, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Prep Wraps, Rochester, Rochester Adams, Rochester Hills Christian, Rochester Hills Lutheran NW, Rochester Stoney Creek, Sport, State Rankings, Stats / Area Leaders, Top Stories, Troy, Troy Athens, Troy Bethany Christian, Troy Christian Leadership Acadamy, Uncategorized, Waterford Christian, Waterford Kettering, Waterford Lakcrest Baptist, Waterford Mott, Waterford Mt. Zion Christian, Waterford Oakdale Christian Academy, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes

About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Tony says:

    Great article. Sad the coaches would let this go on but glad to see you shine light on it finally!!

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.