2017-10-07 / Sports

Mackinac Island Lakers in Action on the Field, Trail, and Court

By Jacob A. Ball


Watching soccer games on the Island is a time for friends and relatives to gather and show their support for their hometown team. Pictured at the soccer game September 23 in Great Turtle Park are (from left) Nova Cowell, Kaylee Cowell, Olivia Cowell, and Lakelyn Bunker. The Lakers won 8-0 against Ojibwe Charter School. Watching soccer games on the Island is a time for friends and relatives to gather and show their support for their hometown team. Pictured at the soccer game September 23 in Great Turtle Park are (from left) Nova Cowell, Kaylee Cowell, Olivia Cowell, and Lakelyn Bunker. The Lakers won 8-0 against Ojibwe Charter School. The fall sports season is well underway with the Mackinac Island Lakers competing in soccer, volleyball, and cross-country.

Soccer

The Lakers soccer team, continuing its impressive form from previous seasons, has 11 straight wins and a 12-1 record. With only two players graduated, the team brought back considerable experience for its Northern Lights League title defense.

The league tournament will take place Friday, October 13, and Saturday, October 14, with the time to be determined. The Lakers last regular season game of the season will be at Concord Academy Monday, October 9, at 4 p.m.


Mackinac Island placed all three of their runners in the top 20 at the Monday, September 18, cross-country meet in Cedarville. From left, Gabe Kromer placed 4th, Gabriel Hepker placed 12th, and Dominic Morse finished 18th. The three-man team placed 5th among 10 teams. This is the first year in decades that Mackinac Island Public School has had a cross-country team. Running enthusiast Kromer approached the school board over the summer about starting one when he began to receive interest from college cross-country teams. Mackinac Island placed all three of their runners in the top 20 at the Monday, September 18, cross-country meet in Cedarville. From left, Gabe Kromer placed 4th, Gabriel Hepker placed 12th, and Dominic Morse finished 18th. The three-man team placed 5th among 10 teams. This is the first year in decades that Mackinac Island Public School has had a cross-country team. Running enthusiast Kromer approached the school board over the summer about starting one when he began to receive interest from college cross-country teams. Last weekend, the Lakers traveled to Beaver Island for back-toback matchups against the Islanders. The games were far more competitive than most previous contests this season, with Mackinac Island battling Friday night, September 29, to secure a slim 2- 1 victory. Junior Alex Henlin and freshman Dominic Morse scored the goals in the game; the two players also recorded an assist each on the other’s goal. Freshman goalie Albert Mosley was beaten on a penalty kick, but recorded 10 saves. Coach Mary Patay lauded Mosley for his effort against a tough opponent.


Senior Cheyla Shunk lines up her serve against Maplewood Baptist. The Lakers were swept by the Black Bears this season, but Coach Jennifer Schrader said she was pleased with how hard her players made their opponent fight for the victory. Senior Cheyla Shunk lines up her serve against Maplewood Baptist. The Lakers were swept by the Black Bears this season, but Coach Jennifer Schrader said she was pleased with how hard her players made their opponent fight for the victory. The following morning, Saturday, September 30, the Lakers would be handed their first loss of the season, 5-1 to their Lake Michigan island rivals. The Mackinac Island goal came from junior Aaron Riggs.

“We will regroup and come out on top,” their coach said after the game.

This was exactly what Coach Patay’s squad did, securing a victory Monday, October 2, to clinch a first-place regular-season finish in the Northern Lights League. On the road at Munising Baptist, the final score would be 4-1 behind a hat trick from Maschelle Kepple. Riggs would add one more goal and Mosley would save eight attempts on goal to help his team.

“All 22 members of this year’s team put in a lot of hours to get where we are,” said Coach Patay.

The team did not even take the day off Monday, September 25, when Mackinac Island experienced a record high of 83 degrees. Instead, the Lakers met at the Island House pool for an intense, yet refreshing workout.

Volleyball

After a disappointing 2016 season, Lakers volleyball has made impressive strides this year. With a new coach and a very young team, the Lakers failed to record a win last season, but so far this year, the girls have eight victories through 16 games.

This past weekend, the volleyball team traveled to Beaver Island for an overnight doubleheader against the Islanders. The girls would fly home with two more wins. On the first night, Friday, September 29, the Lakers won easily, completing the game in three straight sets to call it an early evening. The next morning Saturday, September 30, the Lakers were tested, as all five sets were needed to secure the win.

The previous game for the volleyball squad, Tuesday, September 26, against Atlanta, a team they had beaten once this season, was another victory for the Lakers. In straight sets, the team won 25-20, then 25-12, and finished with a 25-19 third set.

Freshman Ella Cowell led the team in scoring with 18 points, including two decisive points to win the second and third sets of the contest, and ultimately the game. Senior Cheyla Shunk added 14 points, followed closely by freshman Brooke Dziobak with 13 points and the final point in the first set. Sophomore Makenna Horricks also had 13 points. Senior Grace Yakuber had 12 points.

During the Lakers’ most recent outing, a close loss to Maplewood Baptist, Coach Jennifer Schrader said she thought the team performed impressively. Their previous matchup had been an uneven contest and the coach was pleased to see her girls compete with more intensity.

“There was much better competition this time around; we made Maplewood fight for it,” she said.

The game started with a 25-18 first-set victory for the Lakers, as the squad worked together. In the middle of the set with the Black Bears closing the gap, Yakuber maintained her serve for several points to place her team firmly back in control. Dziobak would score the winning point to finish the set.

Following this impressive firstset performance, the Lakers began to fade, but continued pushing for the comeback even as Maplewood served up the game point.

Coach Schrader could not be more pleased with the progress made by her players throughout the season.

“The girls have shown incredible improvement not just from last season, but over the course of this season. I couldn’t have asked for more dedication, or to see more growth from all of my ladies,” she said.

She commended her seniors, including Cheyla Shunk, who leads the team in serving accuracy at 92%. She said the trust her seniors have placed in their younger teammates is one of the main reasons for the improvement.

Two younger players especially have stood out this season, Cowell and Makenna Horricks, who claimed starting spots for the Lakers. Cowell has stepped up as a setter this year, according to her coach, after their senior setter was needed in another position. To this point, she is setting with 90 percent accuracy. Makenna Horricks, a rookie on the team, had never played organized volleyball, which her coach says is surprising.

“You would never guess it from the natural talent she has brought to our team,” Coach Schrader said. “She quickly picked up a starting position and has been a reliable hitter, passer, and server all season.”

The volleyball team will compete in the 15th annual Mackinac Island Volleyball Tournament Saturday, October 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the school gymnasium. The event traditionally brings teams from across the state to compete and the Lakers are primed and ready for a much-improved performance.

The final regular-season game will be at home against Vanderbilt Tuesday, October 17, at 5 p.m. Playoffs will begin with the Northern Lights League Tournament Saturday, October 21, in Sault Ste. Marie. If the Lakers advance, they would travel to Cedarville Monday, October 30, for the district playoffs against Cedarville, DeTour, Maplewood Baptist, and Pickford.

Cross Country

The Mackinac Island crosscountry team has recorded some impressive results in the first year of competition in many seasons. With only three runners, the team makes up for lack of quantity with quality. Senior Gabe Kromer has yet to finish outside the topfive this season and junior Gabe Hepker has recorded four top-12 finishes and two top-five results. Freshman Dominic Morse has two top-20 places.

Their most-recent result came only hours after all three participated in a Lakers soccer matchup Monday, October 2, to secure a regular-season conference championship. The second Eastern Upper Peninsula conference meet at the Hiawatha Sportsmen’s Golf Club in Naubinway showed the talent of the runners, given their fatigue. Kromer maintained his excellent form with a fifth-place finish and Hepker came in 11th behind runners from larger schools: last year, enrollment at Cedarville High School was 90 students, while fewer than 70 children, from kindergarten through high school, attend school on Mackinac Island.

The Lakers also have participated in meets in Cedarville, St. Ignace, and Mackinaw City this year.

At Cedarville Monday, September 18, Morse would finish 18th, his best result of the season. Hepker came in 12th and Kromer led the group with a fourth-place finish.

That Friday, September 21, in St. Ignace, Kromer would have his best performance of the season, finishing the meet in third place. Hepker would also post an impressive result with a fifthplace finish and Morse came in 23rd.

Kromer did not participate in the Mackinaw City Invitational Thursday, September 28. With a significantly higher number of competitors at the event, Hepker finished 18th and Morse 48th. As a team, the Lakers would take home 12th place at the meet, despite missing one-third of their runners.

Upcoming for the cross-country team is an away meet at Newberry Monday, October 16, at 4 p.m. The season will then finish with the U.P. State Finals in Munising Saturday, October 21, with Mackinac Island scheduled to compete at 12:30 p.m.

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