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."
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.)
The addition of two games to basketball regular-season schedules and a new series of wrestling weight classes are likely the most noticeable Winter 2022-23 changes as an estimated 65,000 athletes statewide take part in 13 sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments.
Girls gymnastics and boys ice hockey teams were able to begin practice Oct. 31, with the rest of those sports beginning in November – including also girls and boys basketball, girls and boys bowling, girls competitive cheer, girls and boys skiing, Upper Peninsula girls and boys and Lower Peninsula boys swimming & diving, and girls and boys wrestling.
A variety of changes are in effect for winter sports this season, including a several that will be noteworthy and noticeable to teams and spectators alike.
Basketball remains the most-participated winter sport for MHSAA member schools with 33,000 athletes taking part last season, and for the first time, basketball teams may play up to 22 regular-season games. This increase from the previous 20-game schedule allows more games for teams at every high school level – varsity, junior varsity and freshman.
Another significant change has been made in wrestling, as the majority of boys wrestling weight classes have been adjusted for this season in anticipation of a national change coming in 2023-24. The updated boys weight classes are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215 and 285 pounds. Only 215 and 285 remain from the previous lineup. There is also one change to girls weight classes, with the 255 class replaced by 235 to also align with national high school standards.
A series of notable changes will affect how competition takes place at the MHSAA Tournament levels. In hockey, in addition to a new classification process that spread cooperative and single-school programs evenly throughout the three playoff divisions, the MHSAA Tournament will employ two changes. The Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) will be used to seed the entire Regional round, not just the top two teams, and prior to the start of Semifinals, a seeding committee will reseed the remaining four teams in each division with the top seed in each then facing the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed facing No. 3.
Bowling also will see an MHSAA Tournament change, as the Team Regional format will mirror the long-standing Team Final with teams playing eight Baker games and two regular games at both levels. And as also applied during the fall girls season, there is a new qualification process for divers seeking to advance to Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals. In each of the three divisions, each Regional will be guaranteed 10 qualifiers for the Finals, with six more “floating” qualifier entries to be distributed to the Regionals that have one of the previous year’s top six returning Finals divers in their fields. If a team changes division from the previous season, any floating top-six spots are added to the six already allowed in the school’s new division.
A gymnastics rules change provides an opportunity for additional scoring during the floor exercise. A dance passage requirement was added in place of the former dance series requirement to encourage creativity and a more artistic use of dance. The dance passage requires gymnasts to include two Group 1 elements – one a leap with legs in cross or side split position, the other a superior element.
In competitive cheer, the penalty for going over the time limit in each round was adjusted to one penalty point for every second over the time limit, not to exceed 15 points. The new time limit rule is more lenient than the past penalty, which subtracted points based on ranges of time over the limit.
The 2022-23 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 18 and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 25. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:
Districts – March 6, 8, 10
Regionals – March 13, 15
Quarterfinals – March 21
Semifinals – March 23-24
Finals – March 25
Districts – Feb. 27, March 1, 3
Regionals – March 7, 9
Quarterfinals – March 14
Semifinals – March 16-17
Finals – March 18
Regionals – Feb. 24-25
Finals – March 3-4
District – Feb. 17-18
Regionals – Feb. 25
Finals – March 2-3
Regionals – March 4
Finals – March 10-11
Regionals – Feb. 20-March 1
Quarterfinals – March 4
Semifinals – March 9-10
Finals – March 11
Regionals – Feb. 13-17
Finals – Feb. 27
Swimming & Diving
Upper Peninsula Girls/Boys Finals – Feb. 18
Lower Peninsula Boys Diving Regionals – March 2
Lower Peninsula Boys Finals – March 10-11
Wrestling – Team
Districts – Feb. 8-9
Regionals – Feb. 15
Finals – Feb. 24-25
Wrestling – Individual
Districts – Feb. 11
Regionals – Feb. 18
Finals – March 3-4
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.