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Michigan high school boys golf notebook: South Lyon East hungry for shot at states

South Lyon East head coach Jerry Seal typically tells his golfers to arrive at the course one hour before each tournament’s first tee time. It allows enough time for the players to warm up in all three areas of the game — driving, chipping, and putting.

Playing at Tecumseh Country Club, four of Seal’s players took a bad GPS route that brought them to the course just 10 minutes before tee-off in last year’s regional final. The four golfers were forced to scramble and lined up cold on the first tee ahead of one of the biggest rounds of their lives.

“I think we teed off at 9:30 (a.m.) and they were supposed to be there at 8:30,” Seal said. “They got there at like 9:20 and had to run to the first tee.”

The late arrival predictably affected South Lyon East’s performance, finishing the day in fifth place after projecting to be one of the top teams in the region.

Now, South Lyon East is fighting for last year’s missed opportunity and is positioned well through the first week of May.

“I don’t think that would’ve happened with this year’s team,” Seal said. “They’re really pumped. We’re setting school records.”

South Lyon East has broken the school’s 18-hole record twice this season. It broke the nine-hole record last Thursday and tied it again on Monday carding a 150. It also broke the school’s nine-hole individual record twice with 34s from senior Chase Temple and freshman Kameron Knox on Monday.

Temple and Knox, along with sophomore Ryan Kruschka, construct a dynamic trio that has nine-hole averages all inside the Division 2 top 20. 

Seal considers himself "a teaching pro" and credits the team’s strong performances to depth and smarter overall play.

“My thing is course management,” Seal said. “Have them play smart, hit irons when they have to hit irons, keep the driver in the bag if they don’t need it. “

And maybe a little direction/time management to this year's regional at Lakes of Taylor (37½ miles from South Lyon East High School with I-275 under construction) on May 31. 

U-D gunning for league title

Before the start of the season, U-D Jesuit coach Paul Diehl took his team on a pedal bike excursion through Detroit for some team bonding.

“You hope that kind of gets some of them to say, 'We’re kind of in this together,’” Diehl said.

It appears to have paid dividends.

While there isn’t necessarily a beaming result upon glancing at the scorecards, U-D has quietly crept up the leaderboards and turned heads in the state.

The easy answer for most teams typically comes from one or two breakout individual players, but that’s not the case for U-D. Rather, it’s been a collective group effort that has the team a hair outside the top 10 in Division I scoring average.

Sophomores Sam Robinson and Michael Shubeck are tied for 55th in Division I scoring average. Senior Conor Place sits just behind at 63rd.

One of the team’s top performances came on Day 2 of The Southern Swing Invitational to start off the season. After finishing with a 320 on the first day, U-D rebounded with an eight-stroke improvement the next day to finish the tournament in third place behind two Detroit Catholic Central teams.

Junior Braden DiMarco played a large part in the second effort, boosting his score by 10 strokes while battling brutal weather conditions.

“That really helped turn the tide,” Diehl said.

The steady play has been needed as U-D heads into the Catholic League Championship Monday at Katke-Cousins Golf Club. Diehl’s team will compete against some of the top teams in the state such as Detroit Catholic Central, Birmingham Brother Rice, and Warren De La Salle.

“The Catholic League, the Central Division, is an incredible powerhouse,” Diehl said. “We fight for our lives every year.”

G.P. North's Karoutsos ready for a run

Four years ago, a young, scrawny Niko Karoutsos showed up at Grosse Pointe North tryouts with aspirations of making the varsity team. He approached one of the assistant coaches on the first day asking where the varsity tryout was.

North coach Jim Hansinger was in his first year at the helm and didn’t think much of it in the heat of the moment. As he looks back, Hansinger realizes Karoutsos, now a senior, was not kidding at all.

Karoutsos conveniently lives across the street from a golf course and has grinded his game to the point where he has been North’s top golfer for the last four years and three seasons.

“Niko has always been the hardest worker,” Hansinger said. “He practices more than anyone I know.”

Karoutsos has finished in the top three in each and every tournament so far and is slotted as one of the best golfers in the state. After narrowly missing out on the state finals by two strokes in 2021, Hansinger is confident Karoutsos will qualify before heading to play collegiately for Division II Palm Beach Atlantic.

“He has all the shots,” Hansinger said. “He can do that. It’s making sure he doesn’t get too invested in one shot if it doesn’t go exactly the way it’s supposed to go.”

Sam Sklar is a freelance writer.