By 1 Point, Marquette Ties Title Record

February 25, 2020

By James Cook
Special for Second Half

HARBOR SPRINGS — The goal sat there.

Dan Menze and his Marquette Redmen just didn't know if they'd quite reached it.

Marquette came into Monday's Division 1 Skiing Finals at Boyne Highlands with a chance to become only the third program in state history to win eight straight championships.

Monday didn't make that easy.

With high temperatures in the 40s making runs tricky and several teams putting up a big fight, it came down to the wire.

"It was a nerve-wracking day, but it was definitely a goal," Menze said. "Coming into the season, we knew we had a chance to go out and go for eight in a row.

"We didn't know until the last second when we finally got results in. Everyone is trying, we're trying to tally it up, and everything but when we finally saw it — I didn't think we had it — and then I saw that. Just joy."

By one point.

One single point.

Marquette survived a spirited chase from Brighton, Rochester Adams and Traverse City West, as the four teams finished within 12 points of one another.

The Redmen won with 81 points to Brighton's 82. Adams took third with 92, one point ahead of Traverse City West.

"That's crazy," said Marquette senior Aaron Grzelak, who won both the slalom and giant slalom titles. "I think that's awesome. That's so cool to be part of that class to be able to win number eight.”

The feat equals that of Traverse City Central’s streak from 1988-95 and Petoskey’s from 2011-18.

"That's eight different teams, but two teams that didn't have any of the same kids on them at all," said Marquette assistant coach Keenan Cooper, who won two individual Finals titles in 2014 with Cadillac. "It's awesome to see that it really speaks about the depth of the skiing in Marquette and all the junior programs and how that culture really brings up the skiers."

Traverse City West sophomore Aiden Lewandowski was Grzelak's closest competitor in slalom, almost two full seconds behind. Grzelak's two-run combined time of 79.23 seconds was 1.9 better than Lewandowski's. Marquette's Truman Durand placed third and Logan Audette eighth.

Rounding out the slalom top 10 were Will Blackmer of Stoney Creek in fourth, Brighton's Andrew Myers fifth, TC West's Luke Wiersema sixth, Rochester Adams' Zeke King seventh, Cru Smith of Brighton ninth and Adams' Jacob Corsi in 10th.

Rochester Adams' duo of Colin Dehart and King placed second and third behind Grzelak in giant slalom, Erik Koseck of Saline-Chelsea fourth, Lewandowski fifth, and then Durand, Blackmer, Brighton's pair of Ian Swanson and Luke Vaden and Traverse City Central's Gus Dutmers 10th.

"With Aaron skiing so well — he's phenomenal today, a couple bobbles here and there but solid," Cooper said. "And Truman Durand, phenomenal day. He put us up there when you take it by a point. Every place matters."

Hayden Kauppila, last year's giant slalom champ, placed 15th is GS and had a DNF in slalom. Audette had to hike during his first GS run.

"It's good to have depth because we had a lot of crashes today, and we had to use our fifth and six skiers' times," Menze said. "Most of the season we didn't, because the top — Aaron, Hayden, Truman and Logan — they're real consistent, they finish all the time, but today they had some troubles and the other guys picked it up. I can't say enough about all the guys in the competition within the team to push each other all year."

Marquette might be hard-pressed to extend that streak to a record-breaking nine next season, but the Redmen are game for going for it. The team loses seniors Grzelak, Durand, Drake Scheidt and Jack Franchino from its top six.

"We're going to be losing a lot for next year,” Grzelak said, “so we'll see how that plays out."

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette’s Aaron Grzelak won championships in both slalom and giant slalom Monday. (Middle) The Redmen celebrate their eighth-straight Finals championship. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)

Petoskey Adds 2023 Team, Individual Championships to Finals Dominance

By Jordan Puente
Special for

February 28, 2023

BOYNE FALLS — Petoskey’s dynasty continued to brew at Monday’s Division 2 Ski Finals at Boyne Mountain.

The program added its 12th Division 2 championship over the last 13 years – and fourth straight – finishing first with a combined score of 63.

Pontiac Norte Dame Prep (83) finished runner-up, and Great North Alpine (116) finished third. Harbor Springs placed fourth at 128.

“It's great to see the seniors be able to close that out with four state championships in a row," Petoskey coach Ben Crockett said.

Northmen senior Nolan Walkerdine earned an individual medal finishing first in the slalom with a combined time of 1:10.87. Walkerdine said afterward he couldn't believe his team won again after experiencing an emotional roller coaster season.

"I've been working towards this for my entire life," Walkerdine said.

Senior teammate Wyatt Mattson won giant slalom (1:07.77) and finished seventh in the slalom. He noted he grew up watching Petoskey win 10 straight Division 2 Finals – a level of success he always wanted to take part in.

Houghton’s Eli Heathman eyes the path ahead during one of his races. "When I was in eighth grade, we broke our winning streak," Mattson said. "I felt like we had to avenge that because I was used to us winning, to win four years in a row.

"This feels good," he continued.

Crockett has been coaching Petoskey for three seasons and never experienced anything but a Finals championship. Crockett realizes that won't last forever, but being undefeated on championship day is something he'll cherish.

He couldn't help but smile and laugh when realizing the feat.

"I had a few tastes of defeat, but that's just a testament to how strong the program is and how much it's a part of our community," Crockett said.

"It's a year where the team gelled together, and they enjoyed themselves the most of all the years," Crockett added. "Many of them are upperclassmen, and that sense of the end is coming — as every student (experiences) — as they get towards the end of their high school careers, they just seemed like they enjoy the experience as they're moving through it."

Walkerdine is hopeful that since his time on the team is at an end, newcomers can continue the dynasty they’ve continued building.

“Let’s keep this thing rolling,” he said.

Mattson was followed in the GS by Houghton’s Eli Heathman and Walkerdine, as Petoskey put four placers among the top 11 in that event.

Walkerdine was followed in slalom by Great North Alpine’s Corbin Murphy and Heathman in third.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Nolan Walkerdine races past a gate during Monday’s Division 2 Finals at Boyne Mountain. (Middle) Houghton’s Eli Heathman eyes the path ahead during one of his races. (Click for more later this week from Sports in Motion – Division 2.)