2016-10-13 / Sports

Senior’s swan song could be one for the books

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

NICHOLE COX is all smiles after winning her fourth straight regional title on Friday. 
Photo: Paul Christiansen NICHOLE COX is all smiles after winning her fourth straight regional title on Friday. Photo: Paul Christiansen A local golfer will hit the links this weekend with a chance to do something that’s only been seven times in the history of MHSAA girls golf: win three straight state championships.

Glen Lake senior Nichole Cox can become the eighth at Forest Akers West in East Lansing on Saturday when she caps her high school career in the two-day Division 4 state final.

“I’m just going to try and not be nervous,” Cox said. “I get super nervous about every tournament I play, so this being a state final and my last high school tournament ever, I think the nerves will definitely be up, but I’m going to try to calm myself and not worry about the result.”

A similar approach paid off for Cox in Friday’s regional at Manistee Country Club, where the Bowling Green commit played through unpleasant course conditions and captured her fourth straight regional title with an 8-over 79.

Cox bested runner-up Cara Smith of Harbor Springs by eight strokes and third-place finisher Abbey Scholten of Charlevoix by 13.

“It was super windy,” Cox said. “It was right on the lake and there weren’t many trees. You were going straight into the wind or the wind went straight into your back. At times my eyes were watering because it was so windy.”

Scores were high across the board as the challenging course and nonstop wind had girls struggling to reach the green in regulation. Cox adjusted well, however, and pulled away from the pack by putting efficiently on the back nine.

Glen Lake coach Paul Christiansen said another challenging course awaits in East Lansing.

“We’ll be playing close to 1,000 yards longer than we played in our regional,” Christiansen said. “Generally, that plays to her advantage.”

That’s because most other Division 4 girls don’t consistently tee off in the 250-yard range.

Cox does, and she recently became acquainted with Forest Akers West when she placed second in the East Lansing Invitational on Sept. 19.

She’ll get an even better feel for the course during her last high school practice this afternoon.

“I’d say between five and eight girls have a legit shot at winning it,” Christiansen said. “There are some girls that got lower scores in their regionals, but it’s hard to compare that because you’re playing different courses in different conditions. I would think we played in the worst conditions.”

No matter the outcome, Christiansen and Cox’s hometown community of Empire will be proud.

And they should be.

“She’s had a tremendous four years and really, starting with her summer tournaments and into the fall season, she’s had an outstanding year,” Christiansen said. “Even if it ended right here, it would be a super career. She’s, of course, hoping to put the cherry on top with a third consecutive state title but, win or lose, she’ll go out, play hard and play her best.”

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