EagleHerald/Brian Bell The Menominee girls golf team poses with their plaque after winning the Division 1 U.P. Finals held at Sweetgrass Golf Club. Members are, from left, front row: Madison Derusha and Emma Hofer; back row: Arikah Bellisle, Josie Hofer, coach Tony Hofer, Olivia Badker and Emma Antilla.
EagleHerald/Brian Bell The Menominee girls golf team poses with their plaque after winning the Division 1 U.P. Finals held at Sweetgrass Golf Club. Members are, from left, front row: Madison Derusha and Emma Hofer; back row: Arikah Bellisle, Josie Hofer, coach Tony Hofer, Olivia Badker and Emma Antilla.

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HARRIS, Mich. — Four years ago as freshman, Menominee’s Emma Hofer, Arikah Bellisle and Olivia Badker were a part of a Maroon golf squad that posted a score of 527 at U.P. Finals held at Wawonowin Country Club in Ishpeming.

Last year at Escanaba Country Club, Menominee finished one stroke shy of second-place behind Houghton (390).

On Wednesday at the U.P. Finals at Sweetgrass Golf Club at the Island Resort & Casino in Harris, the trio of Maroon seniors and their two other teammates, sophomore Josie Hofer and freshman Madison Derusha, shaved 142 strokes off of that score from 2016 en route to a team score of 385, capping off their undefeated season with a Division 1 U.P. Finals championship for the first time since 2008.

“It feels really good to accomplish this. We put in four years of hard work so to finally get the ‘W’ is a really good feeling,” Bellisle said. “Last year was really hard missing out on runner-up by one stroke so we really wanted to make every shot count this year. To go from a 527 freshman year to a 385 really shows how much we’ve grown the past four years.”

Hofer led the way for the Maroons, shooting a career-best of 87 (44-43) on one of the tougher courses in the Upper Peninsula to take second and earn All-U.P. honors.

“It feels amazing. This year was so much fun because last year we lost almost every meet by one or two strokes, so to be able to win them all this year and then win U.P.’s to end the season really is amazing,” Hofer said. “We had five good golfers this year, so if someone didn’t shoot a great score we knew we had someone else coming in to back them up. Overall it was a really fun year, and I beat Brady Badker by one stroke in my last meet so it can’t get much better.”

Josie Hofer had some issues on the front nine where she shot a 54, but rebounded very well on the back to tie her older sister, Emma, for the second best score on the back nine (43) to card a 97.

“I had two bad holes back-to-back on the front but I played much better on the back,” she said.

Derusha tied the younger Hofer with a 97, shooting 48 on the front and 49 on the back. The two Maroons tied for fourth place, meaning Menominee took home three of the five top scores.

“I stayed away from the big scores today and that really helped my scores,” Derusha said. “I’m just happy that we all did really well this year and were able to send the seniors off with a U.P. title.”

Bellisle (53-51) and Badker (51-53) both shot 104 to tie for 10th.

Badker, who significantly improved her score in her final high school round compared to previous weeks, noted how good it feels not only to have finished off her career with a good score, but how it feels to win a U.P. championship with three of her best friends.

“It feels really to come out on top in our senior year,” she said. “I’m happy that I was able to finish off my career shooting better than I had in previous tournaments. Especially to do it with my best friends, it just feels amazing.”

After the results were in and the scores were all tallied and the Maroons were crowned champions, Menominee coach Tony Hofer, who won a U.P. title of his own in 1992, reflected on his team’s success this season and how they never let it get in the way of the next meet.

“I kept reminding the girls about the Gladstone boys last year,” Hofer said. “They won every meet and then when it came to U.P.’s, Escanaba snuck in there and beat them. A lot can happen in a one-day tournament. One team can get hot and take it away, but just like all year long we put up some really good scores. Every single meet these girls came out, competed at a high level and won. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Paxton Johnson of Escanaba took medalist honors for the girls with a 76 to win her fourth straight U.P. Finals individual champion award. Esky also took the runner-up trophy by shooting a team score of 412.

The Menominee boys U.P. Finals was held at Escanaba Country Club and took sixth (369) among the 14 teams competing.

Freshman Andrew MacIntyre just missed out on the top 10, shooting an 81 (39-42) and tying for 11th with Esky’s Brett McDonough. Freshman Brady Badker struggled to start his round but was able to shake it off to score an 88; freshman Cooper Conway broke 100 with his score of 99; sophomore Joe Haire was behind him with a 101 and freshman Kade Lesperance shot 111 to round out the scores.

Gladstone’s Rudy Peterson repeated as U.P. champ for the boys by shooting an even-par 71. Jiseung Choi of Houghton was runner-up with a 74 and Joe Luke tied with Esky’s Nathan Rousseau for third with a 78.

The entire boys team will be back for Menominee, but this was the final round for Emma Hofer, Bellisle and Badker. All three have been with the golf program for four years, and all three have improved each year. The trio all have a deep connection with their coach, one being his daughter and the other two being her best friends, and he knows that this was a special group that will be very missed.

“It’s been a pleasure to coach those seniors for four years. We all have family connections and always have. This group was something special.”

Team scores (girls): Menominee 385, Escanaba 412, Negaunee 449, Marquette 455, Houghton 478, Iron Mountain 548, Manistique 712, Kingsford N/A, Westwood N/A, Gladstone N/A

Menominee: Emma Hofer 87, Josie Hofer 97, Madison Derusha 97, Arikah Bellisle 104, Olivia Badker 104

Team scores (boys): Houghton 321, Marquette 323, Escanaba 325, Calumet 354, Gladstone 363, Menominee 369, Kingsford 381, Negaunee 390, Iron Mountain 394, Westwood 402, Ironwood 409, Manistique 409, L’anse N/A, Sault Ste. Marie N/A

Menominee: Andrew MacIntyre 81, Brady Badker 88, Cooper Conway 99, Joe Haire 101, Kade Lesperance 111