Dowagiac wins inaugural Lakeland Conference title

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, May 25, 2023

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DOWAGIAC —The Dowagiac golf team had high expectations when it opened its inaugural Lakeland Conference season at Orchard Hills Country Club back in April.

But after host Buchanan rolled to an easy victory, the Chieftains had to reassess their expectations and figure out how to reach their goal of winning the league championship.

After sweeping the final four conference jamborees, many by more than 10 strokes, Dowagiac set its sights on wrapping up the Lakeland Conference championship as it hosted the league tournament at Hampshire Country Club Wednesday afternoon.

The Chieftains completed their mission in convincing style as they shot 357 to claim the conference title, 56 strokes ahead of runner-up Buchanan, which shot 413.

Berrien Springs finished third with a 425 and Brandywine fourth with a 431. The Shamrocks and Bobcats also finished third and fourth in the final standings.

“It was a great day,” said Dowagiac Coach Bob Turner. “Everyone put it together. A couple of those guys can shoot a little better. Really, we were gearing up for next week. We have to shoot that well or better to qualify [for the state tournament] and the guys are gung-ho to try and do that.”

Turner and his team is also proud of the fact that no one will ever be able to take away their claim of being the inaugural conference champions.

“They have got that for a long time,” he said. 

Buchanan’s Aiden Mondchein was the tournament medalist as he shot 84 to lead the Bucks.

Dowagiac had the next four top scores on the day, led by Abraham Guernsey, who shot 85. Travis Rehborg finished with an 87, Luke Spagnoli an 89 and Dane Spagnoli a 96.

Those five players earned first-team All-Lakeland Conference.

Brandywine’s Miles LeMere, who shot 98, Dowagiac’s Sam Strom, who shot 100, and Berrien Springs’ Ethan Tripp, who shot 103, were honorable mention all-conference.

Turner said that he told his team there was still plenty of golf to be played following the loss at the first jamboree. He knew his team had the potential to reach deep and refocus.

“We talk about this all the time,” he said. “You have got to forget that shot. You have to forget that poor putt and you have to finish the round. This week, what we came up with was, ‘let’s work on tempo, not temper.’ That kind of stuck with them. There were several of them saying that today.”

All four Lakeland Conference teams will now turn their focus to the Division 3 Regional being hosted by Springport at The Medalist Golf Club in Marshall on Wednesday.

Wolverine Conference

Vicksburg wrapped up the Wolverine Conference championship by winning the league tournament at Pineview Golf Club in Three Rivers Wednesday.

The Bulldogs shot 313 to easily outdistance runner-up Otsego, which shot 341.

Niles finished third with a 343 and Edwardsburg fifth with a 359.

Riley Briggs, of Vicksburg, earned medalist honors with his round of 76, which was one shot better than Niles’ Aiden Kruger, who shot 77.

Edwardsburg was led by Andrew Kurowski, who shot 85 to tie for ninth-place.