Brighton rolls, but golf teams upbeat after conference preseason meet

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HARTLAND — Brighton was the winner, as expected, but county teams at Wednesday’s Lakes Conference preseason meet had plenty to feel good about as well.

The Bulldogs ran away from the field, shooting 321 as a team. Brighton was led by Annie Pietila’s 72 and a 78 by Heather Fortushniak, the two best scores in the field.

“It’s Brighton and the rest right now,” Hartland coach Mike Joseph said. “Right now, they’re on another planet, and that’s OK. We’re improving and we’re doing really well. We have our own goals.”

The Eagles shot 340 as a team, beating the old school record set last year by two strokes. They were led by Sammi Behen and Sydney Bradford, who both carded personal-best 81s.

It was Bradford’s birthday, and the sophomore was asked if setting a team record was a boost for the Eagles.

“Definitely,” she said. “We broke the record last year, we broke it today and I’m pretty sure we’ll break it again.”

The tournament counts for one-third of the points teams earn during the season to determine a champion.

Howell coach Jeff Hughey’s team had a strong effort, too, with three scores in the 80s en route to a sixth-place finish at 354. The Highlanders were playing with the minimum four players after one called in sick Wednesday.

“I told the girls they had no one to fall back on, which put some pressure on them,” Hughey said. “I told them to do the best they can.”

Howell was led by Alyssa Snider, who fired an 81.

“She was shooting for the 70s, but I told her we have all season to get there, and the big day is when we come here in October for regionals,” Hughey said.

Pinckney, which has historically struggled in golf, showed signs of progress under second-year coach Mike Rutkowski. The Pirates had two golfers in the 80s and finished below 400, milestones they have struggled to reach.

(Eighties) are a number we have been struggling with,” he said, “and the 400 mark is something we’ve been struggling with. Today we beat it up pretty bad.”

The Pirates finished at 381 and were led by sophomore Reese Olmer, whose team-best 82 was seven strokes better than her previous best.

The dual-meet season is well under way, with the postseason tournament in a month, then the postseason.

“Right now we’re trying to get our team ready for regionals and we want to go to states this year,” Joseph said of his Eagles. “It’s only a month away and right now we’re on a good track to attain that goal.”