Marquette Comes Back, Finds Final Gear

February 23, 2015

By James Cook
Special for Second Half

HARBOR SPRINGS – Marquette made up a lot of ground in not a lot of time. 

The Redmen, who finished behind Traverse City Central in their Regional two weeks ago, put that in the rear-view mirror by winning the MHSAA Division 1 Finals championship Monday at Boyne Highlands. 

"At Regionals, we knew we still had a lot more to give," Marquette's Joe Weber said. "TCC, they're a good team, but we knew we could be a lot better. We just performed."

Central won by 37 points two weeks ago, but the Redmen turned the tables and won by 13 this time. 

"Between the two Traverse City teams and us, it's anybody's game," said Marquette coach Marty Paulsen, who won his third team crown in five seasons at the program's helm. "Everybody has to have their 'A' game on that day. I knew our guys had the potential. We just needed to all have four good runs."

Clarkston's Derek Vanitallie won both individual titles, the slalom by a half-second over Bloomfield Hills' J.T. Stewart and the giant slalom by only 0.49 seconds over Central's Lars Hornburg. 

"Lars skied excellent; Dirk Phelps and Brendan Wells were excellent," Traverse City Central coach Nick Stanek said. "We're happy with our second place. Marquette always has a (good) ski team up there – and they always will. Maybe next time (for us)." 

Even with Vanitallie's efforts, the Wolves were a distant third. Marquette scored 47 points to 60 by TC Central and 114 from Clarkston.

That Regional setback wasn't necessarily a motivating factor, Weber said, but it didn't hurt to avenge it by winning the school's 10th boys championship.

"We were just looking to get to states, that's it," said Weber, a junior who has won an MHSAA team title every year in high school. 

Weber took third in slalom and fourth in GS to lead Marquette. His older brother Nick was fourth in slalom and fifth in GS.

Drew Thomas – who along with Joe Weber crashed at Regionals – claimed fourth in GS and eighth in slalom to give the Redmen three top-10 finishers in both disciplines. 

"Nick Weber is our sole senior on our 'A' team," Paulsen said. "Nick, as a senior, took on a lot of leadership this year. His brother Joe is a junior and also a very mature racer and took on a lot of leadership this year. Their maturity helped these guys focus as a team and put on the best performance they could."

Marquette's effort allowed them to offset the loss of Nathan King in his second slalom run. 

"Nate King had a great first run in slalom," Paulsen said. "Unfortunately, he got hooked up on a gate in the second run. But our fourth seed, Adam Skenzel, he's a sophomore, and he knew he didn't put on his best performance (in) his first run and he came back strong and had a great performance for the team."

Skenzel would place 10th in slalom and 13th in GS as Marquette's last counter in each. 

Central's effort was led by Hornburg's second-place slalom runs and a bunched group thereafter.

"I was really happy with that – definitely better in slalom than in GS, but overall I was really happy," Hornburg said. 

The Trojans took places 12-15 in giant slalom with Hornburg, Tyler Sepanik, Teague Tompkins and Brendan Wells. In GS, Wells was sixth, Dirk Phelps seventh and Sepanik 13th.

"He's a lot of fun to watch ski slalom," Stanek said of Hornburg. "His first one was the one that looked the fastest, just because the course was a little more open." 

Freshmen Max Ranger and Tompkins were in Central's top six. They'll graduate seniors Zak Collins, Phelps and Sepanik.

"We beat them at Regionals, but today was just not our day," Hornburg said. "We didn't put it together quite as well as (in Regionals)." 

Hornburg said this season was the quest for Central's 20th state championship. And as a junior, he'll be able to continue that quest next season.

But cold temperatures in single digits and wind chills dipping into the minus-20s couldn't deter Marquette on Monday. 

"That's been the goal all season long," Weber said. "Eyes on the prize. Three in a row."

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PHOTOS: (Top) Walled Lake Central's Andrew Katz races downhill during Monday's MHSAA Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Marquette poses with its championship trophy. (Click for more photos from

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.

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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.)