By Chris Dobrowolski
Special for Second Half
HARBOR SPRINGS – Petoskey boys skiing coach Erik Lundteigen doesn't know if he would call his team's string of titles a dynasty.
But after five straight MHSAA Division 2 boys championships, there's no other word for the Northmen's domination over the rest of the last half-decade.
Petoskey's fifth consecutive crown came Monday at Nub's Nob, where the Northmen came out on top of both the giant slalom and slalom to win by eight points over Birmingham Brother Rice (78-86). Cadillac placed third with 91 points.
"I tell you it's a nice run, for sure. You can see them get better all year," said Lundteigen. "Some good talent and some good training. That's what it's all about. The right training environment. The kids know there's accountability, too. It's not just the coach telling them what to do. They've got to buy into it themselves."
Even without Lundteigen's son Garret, Petoskey's top skier, who was out with a broken hand, the Northmen found a way to win once again.
Mitch Makela earned top-five finishes in slalom and giant slalom, taking second in GS (52.52) and fourth in slalom (1:05), and was one of three all-staters for Petoskey in slalom. Teammates Patrick Sheperd (7th, 1:05.68) and Ethan Siegwart (10th, 1:08.05) also reached the medal stand in that discipline.
Sheperd added a 13th-place finish in GS (54.96). Silas Lee (24th, 56.45) and David Paquette (25th, 56.69) were the other counters in GS, while Josh Pemberton (23rd, 1:11.99) rounded out the counters in slalom.
"A lot of people stepped up. It all worked out in our favor. To do this we needed everybody to play a key role. Everybody stepped up and did what they needed to do," Makela said.
He also admitted the Northmen feel some pressure to match what previous Petoskey teams had accomplished, but he didn't seem to mind facing those high expectations.
"It's a good pressure," Makela added. "The win is what the people are looking for.
"I think we're going to come back with a pretty good team next year, so we'll see (if we can keep it going)."
Cadillac's Keenan Cooper, the individual champion in both races last year, repeated as winner of the slalom in a time of 1:04.01. Ben Hicks from Elk Rapids/Traverse City St. Francis took top honors in GS (52.3).
Robbie Cort, Thomas Hamill and Daniel Lunghamer led the way to Brother Rice's runner-up finish. Cort was a double medalist after taking sixth in slalom (1:05.37) and sixth in GS (53.8). Lunghamer earned an eighth-place finish in slalom (1:07.58) and was 27th in GS (56.73). Hamill turned in a 12th-place time of 1:09.33 in slalom and a 15th-place time in GS (55.22). Max Radecky placed 17th for the Warriors in slalom (1:10.22), and
Michael Richard was 22nd in GS (56.32).
PHOTO: (Top) Members of Petoskey's boys ski team pose with their trophy after winning their fifth straight MHSAA championship. (Middle) A competitor passes a gate during a race Monday. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.
"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.
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.)