Prep golf: Northmen third in regional, punch ticket to state finals
Petoskey junior Tyler Speigl posted an 81 Thursday at the Division II regional at The Pohl Cat in Mount Pleasant. Speigl and the Northmen finished third in the event, giving them a berth in the state finals June 15-16 in Big Rapids. (News-Review file photo / June 8, 2012)
Hunter Pulaski shot 80 to tie for eighth place Thursday as the Petoskey High School boys golf team earned a trip to the Division II state finals with a third-place finish in a highly competitive regional on The Pohl Cat.
Just 10 shots separated the first place team from the fourth.
Big Rapids shot 328 to win the event, followed by Mount Pleasant, 330; the Northmen, 332; Ortonville-Brandon, 334; and Lapeer West, 338.
Big Rapids, Mount Pleasant and the Northmen advance to the state finals, which are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, June 15-16, at Katke Golf Course on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids.
"I'm just tickled," said Petoskey coach Chad Loe, whose team won its district tournament at Cadillac last week. "I'm very pleased, very pleased with our performance. I was excited about winning a district, and making it out of regionals is as exciting, if not more. Now we're going to be with the best of the best at the state finals.
"We were right there. We were four shots away from a regional championship. It was within reach. We played great. We another solid team score.
"Two shots (more) and we tie for fourth place. That's how close it was. That's why every putt is critical. That's how muchjpressure these guys are under. A 3-footer could be the putt that sends you home early if you miss, or you go to the state finals if you make it. And that's every hole. I've got to give my guys a ton of credit."
Tyler Speigl shot 81 for the Northmen, while Caleb Dann carded an 83, Kam Friedli shot 88, and Cam Ludlow posted a 94.
Blaze Hogan of Big Rapids shot 71 to claim medalist honors. Gaylord senior Alex Dombrowski shot 77 to finish third and earn a state-finals berth as an individual.
Familiarity with the tricky Pohl Cat layout helped the Northmen -- as well as Big Rapids and Mount Pleasant -- immensely, Loe said.
The Northmen and Cardinals played in the Mount Pleasant Invitational earlier this season, the Pohl Cat is the Oilers' home course, and the road to the state finals has, in recent years, always run through the venue.
"You look at our team having the experience of playing The Pohl Cat several times and taking advantage of opportunities," Loe said. "The opportunity to play there earlier in the year was crucial. That played a key factor in knowing where to hit the ball off the tee. That was a big advantage for us going into (the regional).
"I think the guys had a good mindset going in and that was to keep it as simple as possible on this course. And keeping it simple means hitting fairways first and hitting greens and as a team we did that today."
The Pohl Cat puts a premium on keeping the tee ball on the fairway and hitting greens in regulation. Errant shots pay a steep price at the course, which was designed by Michigan native and former PGA Tour player Dan Pohl.
"We talk about intellectual play and I have a very intelligent team," Loe said. "Knowing when not to hit driver is as important, if not more important, than being able to hit it 300-plus yards. They're very intelligent players."
Pulaski, a four-year varsity veteran and one of the top high school players in Northern Michigan, delivered what Loe has come to expect from his veteran leader.
The performances from Speigl and Dann, in particular, were critical, as was Freidli's 88. Had the Northmen finished two shots higher, they would not have qualified for the finals.
"Speigl's 81, just an amazing score for Tyler," Loe said. "He played great all day, steady all day.
"Low 80s on the Pohl Cat is a great score. (Dann) hit 11 greens and 11 fairways, just a solid round for him. He's striking the ball very well."