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

Galbraith Sets Pace as Petoskey Continues Magnificent Finals Run

By Jordan Puente
Special for

February 27, 2024

HARBOR SPRINGS — The Petoskey boys ski team remains in a class of its own.

Petoskey crushed the slopes at Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs on Monday by collecting its fifth-straight Division 2 championship with a combined score of 68 points. Monday’s title run marks the program’s 12th D2 title in 13 years, and the Northmen show no signs of slowing down.

Coach Ben Crockett credited his entire coaching staff and parents for the team’s success since he began guiding the Northmen in 2019.

“The boys came together after a Regional event where we had some strong competition,” Crockett said. “When they realized it was a foregone conclusion they were going to win another state championship, they rallied and came together to execute a plan.”

Houghton’s Eli Heathman speeds down the hill on the way to winning the giant slalom.With Petoskey coming in first place, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s finished runner-up (102), and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (134) finished third. Great North Alpine placed fourth (134), and Harbor Springs finished fifth with a team score of 155.

Northmen junior Gavin Galbraith finished with an individual title in the slalom and third-place finish in giant slalom.

Galbraith finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:08.53 and the giant slalom with a combined time of 50.85. Teammates Taylor Keiswetter and McClure Galbraith placed in the top 10 in the giant slalom.

Keiswetter finished fifth with a combined time of 50.98, and McClure placed eighth with a combined time of 52.21.

"It's great that all of my hard work has paid off this season. Thanks to all my coaches and the Nub's Nob staff," Gavin said.

Gavin’s journey to get to where he is today started freshman year when he was named the 16th skier on the varsity roster. After waiting for his turn, he didn't shy away from the moment.

Last season, Galbraith watched the Northmen capture the team title, and the junior sensation was motivated to continue that streak Monday.

"All my coaches and family have been pushing me to keep this streak going," he said. "If we didn't win today, it would've been a bummer. But we tried our best, and that's all that matters."

Houghton’s Eli Heathman won the giant slalom with a combined time of 50.09, followed by Cadillac’s Brady Koenig in 50.74 and Galbraith in third. Gaylord’s Keaton Abraham was fourth (50.96) and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s CJ Studt was fifth (50.98).

Onekama’s Braydon Sorenson finished runner-up in the slalom with a combined time of 1:09.07, East Grand Rapids' Quinn Irwin finished third (1:09.42), Harbor Springs’ Jackson Deegan finished fourth with a combined time of 1:10.10, and St. Mary’s Pierson Kuhn finished fifth with a combined time of 1:10.93.

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PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Gavin Galbraith races to the Division 2 slalom championship Monday. (Middle) Houghton’s Eli Heathman speeds down the hill on the way to winning the giant slalom. (Photos by Sarah Shepherd. Click for all photos.)