By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half
BOYNE FALLS – Coming into this year’s Division 2 Boys Ski Finals at Boyne Mountain, Great North Alpine senior Finn Husband had reasons to be both motivated and reassured based on last year’s results at the championship meet.
Finn felt confident he could win the slalom after doing the same last year, but he also was inspired because a bad turn cost him a chance to win last season’s giant slalom, as he instead finished third in that race.
“I remember that it was my own fault, and I could’ve been a better skier,” Finn said.
Finn certainly couldn’t have been a better skier this time around, as he won both the giant slalom and slalom races Monday.
Even better, Finn’s performance led to some noteworthy news from a team perspective.
For the first time in nine years, a team other than Petoskey won the Division 2 championship.
GNA, comprised of skiers from Elk Rapids, Traverse City St. Francis, Central Lake and Grand Traverse Academy, ended Petoskey’s reign as champion by collecting 48 points, comfortably ahead of Petoskey’s total of 83. Petoskey’s streak of eight straight titles was tied for the longest in MHSAA boys skiing history.
GNA also had defeated Petoskey at their Regional two weeks ago.
“I told them (Sunday night) that they didn’t have to be extraordinary, they just had to be ordinary,” said GNA co-coach Ben Ferris. “You just have to ordinary. Just be you. You already ski fast. That was kind of the message.”
Leading the way was Husband, who won the giant slalom with a time of 1:09.49 and the slalom in 1:02.88.
Conditions at Boyne certainly were a lot different than last year, when it was nearly 40 degrees and slushy.
Following a blizzard and windstorm Sunday night, the course was firm throughout.
“What we had when it rained and then froze up again made it a really nice base here,” Husband said. “Last year, it was starting to get slushy and made it (sink) the course. We had a good base where we can push off of that.”
Andrew Truman of Harbor Springs finished second in both events, finishing with a time of 1:10.50 in the giant slalom and 1:03.89 in the slalom.
Tripp Thomas of Petoskey was fourth in both events, earning a time of 1:11.43 in the giant slalom and 1:04.60 in the slalom, and Will Blackmer of Rochester Hills Stoney Creek had two fifth-place finishes, with a time of 1:11.64 in the giant slalom and 1:05.59 in the slalom.
The only deviation in the top-5 between the events was that Alex Netzley of Cadillac finished third in the giant slalom in a time of 1:10.63, while Colin Dehart of Rochester Adams took third in the slalom in 1:04.52.
Ultimately though, every other team bowed to GNA, which ended Petoskey’s quest to take over the championship streak record alone.
“They are awesome guys, and I love them all,” Husband said of Petoskey. “But I think we really deserved it. I think we came out and showed them what we had. It was a team effort to really take it.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Great North Alpine's Finn Husband skis the slalom course on the way to winning both event titles Monday. (Middle) Tripp Thomas, here in the slalom, led Petoskey to the runner-up team finish. (Photos by James Cook. For more from Monday's Finals, see Sports in Motion.)
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.”
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.
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.)