Julia Lizak and Megan Rogers, both of Riverview, show off the MHSAA regional awards. Julia plays for Divine Child, Megan for Riverview.

DAVE GORGON

Two high school golfers who started playing when they were very young have earned medals in the state finals.

Julia Lizak, a senior captain at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, helped the Falcons win the state championship and earned an individual regional title and a spot on the All-State team along the way.

Megan Rogers, a junior captain at Riverview Community High School, was the first female golfer in school history to qualify for the state finals a year ago. This year, she placed in the finals, showing massive improvement from her sophomore year. One of her coaches said she should be one of the players to beat as a 12th-grader.

Lizak is one of three captains — along with sisters Zeinab and Madina Saab — who joined the Divine Child team as freshmen and led a program that showed continuous improvement, culminating with the Division 2 state title at Battle Creek’s Bedford Valley course. Along with junior Mary Ronayne, the Falcons locked up the first girls golf championship in program history, finishing with a two-day total of 691 – good for a nine-stroke win over second place Byron Center.

“It’s kind of unbelievable, but my team worked so hard for this and it’s been our goal since freshman year – and it feels good to finally complete our goal,” Lizak said after the first-place finish. “We’ve been doing so good this year as a team and we just had a feeling… We came in thinking we could place really well. They’re my best friends and I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else. I love them all.”

It was the fourth straight appearance for the DC girls in the state finals. This year, Lizak cut five strokes from her first-round score to finish with a two-day 157, good for seventh individually. She and her teammates finished fifth as a team the year before, when the finals were cut to one round because of COVID-19 precautions. 

She won the regional tournament played at Pine View in Ypsilanti, overcoming a slow start to shoot 76 out of a team score of 350.

“I told myself, I know how to play this game,” she said, “now go out and have fun and do what you do best. You’re here to win.”

And she did. And the top three teams qualify for the state finals. The Falcons also won the Catholic League championship.

Rogers’ second straight appearance in the state finals came as an individual player. She shot a two-day total of 183 – good for 40th place out of more than 100 players in the finals, also at Bedford Valley. She also did well at the regional tournament and in the Huron League tournament, finishing among the top six with Grosse Ile golfers holding the other spots.

Competing as Riverview’s lone golfer in the finals, Rogers admitted she felt “a lot of pressure.”

“Others have their teams to fall back on,” she said. “If I don’t do so well, it’s just me.”

What marked her improvement over last year?

“I just played as much as I could,” said Rogers, whose sister plays at Trenton High School. “I hit balls at the range. Ken (Moore) helped me a lot. We worked on my swing path.

“I just really put in the work. That’s a huge part of it. If you want to succeed, you have to put the effort in and in time it pays off.”

Both girls also credited their high school coaches and their fathers, along with their teammates.

While Lizak contemplates where to go to college, where she plans to keep playing golf, Rogers is getting ready for high school softball. The two have grade point averages above 3.9 and are honor roll students and multi-time letter winners

The girls have been friends pretty much since they started golfing when they were “little kids” in the junior golf program at Riverview Highlands. They loved the game and kept working at it. They work on their fundamentals year-round in the Highlands’ high school program and have improved so much that they are now junior coaches in the program.

Ken Moore, golf pro at Riverview Highlands, said he takes pride in the success of Lizak and Rogers. The respect goes both ways as Lizak brought Divine Child’s state championship trophy to the golf course to show Moore. The girls also posed for a “selfie” photo when they saw each other at the golf course to send to their mentor.

“I’m thrilled,” he said. “Julia asked for the trophy so she could bring it to show me. That’s the kind of kid she is. She wanted to do that because ‘you had a lot to do with me getting there.’ It made me cry. Megan is the same way.”

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