By Scott Keyes
Special for Second Half
BELLAIRE – Regardless of the sport, winning an MHSAA championship is an impressive feat.
But what about winning six titles in a row?
That's the possibility the Petoskey boys ski team faced entering Monday's Division 2 Finals at Schuss Mountain.
With hard work, dedication and a few breaks along the way, Petoskey pulled off the inevitable by winning its sixth straight championship, and third straight under current coach Erik Lundteigen.
Following Petoskey was the Elk Rapids/Traverse City St. Francis cooperative program in second, Cadillac (third), East Grand Rapids (fourth) and Charlevoix (fifth).
"Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought about being a part of six straight championships," Lundteigen said. "To be that good for so long comes with a lot of hard work and definitely a lot of luck along the way. But to take nothing away from our kids, they work so hard every time they hit the slopes. We have a tremendous feeder program, and the kids buy into what we are teaching. It's that dedication that allows us to stay competitive year after year."
Lundteigen tried to downplay the feat of six titles, which is second only to Traverse City’s run of eight consecutive MHSAA championships from 1988-95.
“When you ski well, good things happen," he said. "We had a tremendous season."
The Northmen were led by Garrett Lundteigen and Mitch Makala.
Makala won the giant slalom in 47.24, defeating last year's champion Ben Hicks of Elk Rapids/St. Francis (47.30), and Makala’s teammate Garret Lundteigen was third. (47.43).
In the slalom, it was Garret Lundteigen finishing first in 1:03.01, Makala was second (103.88) and Victor Pierret of Harbor Springs was third (1:05.57).
“We’ve got a great one-two punch with Garret and Mitch,” Erik Lundteigen said. “They go back and forth. They push each other, and I love it.
“It’s like we have a one and a 1-A.”
With the win, Garrett was able replicate the feat of his older brother Gunner, who won both the slalom and giant slalom championships in 2013. But, echoing his father, Garrett also said the titles aren’t what’s at the forefront at the starting line.
“Once you get to the top of the hill, it’s just all about skiing,” Garrett said. “We don’t even think about the record. It’s just thinking about getting to the bottom as fast as you can.”
PHOTO: The Petoskey boys ski team poses with its championship trophy after its sixth straight win in Division 2. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.)