SF’s Slocum heads up girls golf Dream Team

Dec. 3—TRAVERSE CITY — The shadow of the Dy sisters has been a long one for girls golfers in northern Michigan.Grace Slocum is skating out of that quickly.The Traverse City St. Francis sophomore golfer earned her second top-10 state finals finish this season on her way to selection as the Record-Eagle’s Golfer of the Year, an honor Anika and Anci Dy and Traverse City West had a stranglehold on for the last six seasons.”I’ve seen girls come up through the system and have a lot of promise,” Gladiators golf coach Craig Ardery said. “But I’ve never seen anyone start the way she has her first two years.”The Dy sisters and West’s Ainslee Hewitt won the Golfer of the Year honor for West each of the last six seasons.Slocum won every event she played in this fall but two, with one of those exceptions the state finals, where she placed third, only two shots off the lead. She was tied for the lead after one round of the two-day event.”I had a few struggles on the last three holes,” Slocum said, “but overall it’s a positive experience that will help me grow as a golfer.”She won regionals with an 80, then shot better than that at both days of the state finals, carding rounds of 72 and 79 at The Meadows on the campus of Grand Valley State University.Slocum actually plays four sports per year. In addition to running both track and cross country in addition to golf, Slocum plays hockey as a defenseman for the K-Stars travel team, based in Kalkaska.She said the shot from the point on defense has similar mechanics to a golf swing.”Her time management skills are out of this world,” Ardery said. “She’s a straight-A student as well.”Slocum played golf and also ran cross country as a sophomore, competing in seven events and placing sixth in regionals and 33rd at states after a 38th-place state finals finish as a freshman.”When it’s a day to golf, she golfs,” Ardery said. “When it’s a day to run, she runs. She balances the two and I don’t have to worry about here. They go hand in hand and are both helping her.”Story continuesThe slender 5-foot-8 Slocum crushes drives 230-240 yards.”I realized my weakness was definitely my short game and strategy on the course,” Slocum said.The Gladiators took runner-up status in regionals and tied the program’s best state finals with a 10th-place finish.Slocum’s twin brother Josh also runs cross country and track and plays golf for the Gladiators. Grace said playing hockey gives her a leg up. Or maybe a skate.Hockey teaches her the mental aspect and to learn to fight back. Traverse City West sophomore Olivia Wilk also plays for the K-Stars, as does St. Francis junior cross country runner Rylee Duffing.”She absolutely puts in the work,” Ardery said of Slocum. “It’s natural for her to compete.”Slocum won two Golf Association of Michigan events last summer, then took that momentum right into the high school season.”There isn’t a lot I can instruct her on in the golf game,” said Ardery, who recently finished his 20th year coaching at St. Francis. “She has done amazing things so far. To raise the bar again is going to be a challenge.”The biggest hurdle is winning a state championship.She came up only two shots short of Ann Arbor Greenhills sophomore Mia Melendez, who has two state championships already, each won by one stroke. State runner-up Logan Bentley of Brooklyn Columbia Central joins a group of four sophomores in the top 10, including the first three finishers.”She’ll want to finish what she started,” Ardery said of Slocum, who placed eighth in the 2021 finals, shooting rounds of 81 and 85.DREAM TEAMGrace Slocum, TC St. Francis, So. (Player of the Year) — Led the Gladiators to tie the program’s best state finals result with a 10th-place finish.Ainslee Hewitt, TC West, Sr. — Last season’s Player of the Year came back and won the Big North Conference title by 1.6 shots a round, averaging 83. Shot a 79 on the second day of the Division 1 state finals for a 162 total and a 13th-place finish. Best round of the season was a 76 at regionals to take second (the winner shot 64).McKenzie McManus, TC Central, Sr. — Led TC Central in per-round average at 87.5, improving her game by 3.34 shots a round from her junior season. BNC runner-up averaged 84.6 in league matches. Shot 196 in the D1 finals to place 70th after a 91 at regionals.Aubrey Williams, Petoskey, Sr. — First-team all-Big North selection led Petoskey to a second-place finish in regionals with an 82 and carded rounds of 94 and 89 in the Division 2 state finals to place 26th. The only first-team BNC pick not from TCC or TCW, she averaged 89.6 in league events.Sydney Rademacher, TC Central, Sr. — The Trojans’ captain was a first-team all-Big North pick, averaging 84.6 per round. Averaged 88.7 a round for the season (down 27.4 from her freshman season). Led TCC with an 85 in regionals and a 180 in the state finals (45th).Addi Balentine, TC Central, Jr. — Shot an 85 at the Alpena Invitational and averaged 90.6 shots a round in the Big North Conference. Shot 91 at regionals and an opening-round 87 at the D1 state finals, placing 55th.Evie Nowicki, TC Central, Jr. — First-team all-Big North after averaging 90.6 a round in league play and 90.2 in all 14 tournaments. Carded Central’s second-best score at regionals with an 88 and placed 51st at the state finals.SECOND TEAMMaya Wilson, TC West, Jr. — Shot a season-best 88 at the Alpena Invitational and averaged 99.4 strokes per round on the season. Second-team all-BNC pick shot rounds of 99 at regionals and in the first round of states.Charlie Erickson, TC West, Jr. — Shot a season-low 92 at the Petoskey Invitational and earned honorable mention all-Big North Conference honors with an average of 99.4 in league events. Helped the Titans qualify for stats with a 17th-place regionals finish with a 99.Marley Spence, Petoskey, Jr. — Second-team all-Big North pick as a junior, Spence finished 59th in the Division 2 state finals and helped Petoskey finish 13th in the state with a two-day 203. Averaged 98.2 in BNC tournaments.Sami Burks, East Jordan, Sr. — Led the Red Devils to a third-place regional finish to qualify for the Division 4 state finals. Shot 100 at regionals, but was even better at states, with rounds of 94 and 99 to place 34th.Jessica Campbell, Grayling, So. — Grayling’s only player, Campbell shot 97 at regionals to qualify as an individual for the state finals, where she placed 45th overall as a sophomore, including an opening-round 89.Grace Drabik, Cadillac, So. — The lowest score on the BNC’s second team with a 95.0 average, Drabik led the Vikings in regionals at Arrowhead Golf Course in Lowell with an 89, but missed out of qualifying individually for states by only three shots.Avery Kita, Charlevoix, So. — Qualified for the Division 4 state finals as an individual, shooting 105 in regionals as the third-highest score not on a qualifying team. Shot rounds of 103 and 97 in the state finals for an even 200 and 48th in the state.Onalee Wallis, Cadillac, Jr., — Shot 94 at regionals in Lowell after a junior season that saw her average 98.6 strokes per round in Big North Conference play to earn second-team all-BNC honors.Sarah Pletcher, Charlevoix, So. — The Rayders’ other individual qualifier for the D4 state finals, Pletcher shot 103 in regionals, with only Campbell ahead of her among players not on a qualifying team. She finished 88th at states as a sophomore.Riley Barr, Petoskey, Fr. — Averaged just over 100 a round in Big North matches for honorable-mention status, but posted the team’s second-best score at regionals with a 92. Helped Petoskey place 13th as a team at states.Sarah Ream, TC Central, Jr. — The Trojans’ fifth golfer averaged 97.2 in league play to earn second-team all-conference. She shot 98 at regionals to place 16th and helped Central to an 11th-place team finish at states with a two-day 206.Avery Meyer, Cadillac, Jr. — Shot an even 100 at regionals, but was a mainstay for the Vikings in the Big North Conference slate, averaging 96.8 shot per league tournament, including a 90 at the Alpena Invitational.HONORABLE MENTIONEmily Jozwiak, TC St. Francis, Sr.; Mary Kate Carroll, TC St. Francis, Jr.; Kendal Waligorski, Manistee, Jr.; Cassidy Whitener, Petoskey, Sr.; Sarah Haase, Petoskey, So.; Hope Hoedel, Elk Rapids, Jr.; Mailey Hamilton, East Jordan, Sr.; Hannah Fortune, East Jordan, So.; Olivia Wilk, TC West, So.; Ash Gagnon, TC West, So.Follow @Jamescook14 on Twitter.

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