BELLAIRE – “Send it” was the motto of this year’s Petoskey skiing team.
Consider it sent.
The Northmen boys won their third-straight Division 2 championship – and 11th in 12 years – edging Pontiac Notre Dame Prep by 13 points Monday at Schuss Mountain in Bellaire.
The Northmen used a dominating afternoon in the slalom to pull ahead of Notre Dame and finish with 86 points. Petoskey trailed Notre Dame by four after the morning GS. Cadillac placed third at 116, followed by Gaylord (129) and Harbor Springs (149.5).
All the while, coaches wore hats emblazoned with the motto.
"It's a great streak and it's a testament to the community that's built around this program," said Petoskey boys skiing head coach Ben Crockett. "That is really the strength, is having families involved and it being valued in Petoskey and being something that our community is really proud of. And we just continue to have success."
The Petoskey win was even more impressive given the team had two falls in the morning GS session and another in the slalom.
"We were in need of having a finish to keep us in the in the competition," said Crockett, who won his second Finals title in as many years leading the program. "We got that with Gavin Galbraith, who's a freshman coming through at the very end when we needed him. So that kept us in the hunt."
Gaylord's Connor Abraham won the slalom title, posting the fastest run of each session by a fraction of a second ahead of Petoskey junior Nolan Walkerdine, who took second.
"It's just super cool to actually pull it off," Abraham said. "I've been working at it for a long time, so I'm really excited right now."
The boys slalom saw a lot of skiers hiking, with eight falls in the first three flights of the first run.
The second run ended up better, the snow firming up in between.
"You never know what you're going to get," Abraham said. "That could happen to anyone and it happened to a lot of people today. I've been there many times before."
Houghton’s Reed Heathman won the giant slalom, just beating out Harbor Springs’ Connor Truman by 0.33 seconds.
Abraham also placed fifth in giant slalom, in what he called his best GS race of the year.
Walkerdine also placed third in giant slalom after top-flighted teammate and senior captain Will Goelz fell on his first run.
"There are situations where a hike can make the difference between winning and losing and that was going through my head," Goelz said. "I also wanted to be able to have a second run to finish off my high school skiing career on a good note."
Goelz bounced back with the fourth-fastest second slalom run.
"Nice be able to keep our streak alive," Goelz said. "It was just a really great team effort from our entire team. We counted on every single one of us. I've got a great team to back me up and find some really great results themselves."
Junior Wyatt Mattson brought home a pair of first-team all-state honors, placing fourth in giant slalom and sixth in slalom.
Goelz took 13th in giant slalom, and freshman Charlie Thomas earned 12th in slalom.
"It's such a cool thing to be able to be part of a team with that much of a legacy," Goelz said. "A lot of great skiers and great people come out of our program, and it's really great to be able to add to that going forward."
Great North Alpine — a co-op team consisting of Traverse City St. Francis, Elk Rapids, Central Lake and Grand Traverse Academy — had junior Corbin Murphy place seventh in slalom and tie for 10th in giant slalom to earn all-state in each after qualifying as an individual.
"Coming as an individual this year was a little different because ever since freshman year, I've been coming here as a team," Murphy said. "But it was fun this year. I didn't have to worry about anything for the team, so I could go full gas."
GNA doesn't lose any seniors, so Murphy expected to be back next year as a team during his senior campaign.
Whereas Great North Alpine's entire team — the one squad to interrupt Petoskey's run at 12 titles in a row — wasn't at the Final, another team made its return after a long while.
Onekama qualified at a team for the first time since 1994, the program's only other time making the Final as a team.
Kylar Thomas earned all-state honors with a sixth-place finish in giant slalom, with teammate Braydon Sorenson taking 15th. The Portagers placed seventh as a team.
"We just made it as a team finally, which was kind of a cool thing for my senior year," Thomas said. "After all these years, we're working hard all year skiing, practicing lots and trying to get better."
Mount Pleasant also made its Finals debut as a team, finishing eighth with 223 points, tied with Grand Rapids Christian.
PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Nolan Walkerdine cuts past a gate during a slalom run Monday at Schuss Mountain. (Middle) Gaylord’s Connor Abraham surges into a turn on the way to winning the slalom. (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.