Petoskey Overtakes Rival to Repeat as D2 Champ

February 22, 2021

By Andrew Rosenthal
Special for Second Half

HARBOR SPRINGS — The streak has started again.

Petoskey beat out Great North Alpine for the Division 2 skiing title at Boyne Highlands Resort on Monday after missing out on the Regional title to GNA last week.

The Northmen went back-to-back to make it 10 championships out of the last 11 years. The only team to win a Division 2 title during that run was Great North Alpine in 2019, the co-op program combining athletes from Elk Rapids, Traverse City St. Francis and Grand Traverse Academy.

Monday’s win also made the Northmen the third team in the Big North Conference to take home a Finals championship trophy this winter. Traverse City West’s boys and Traverse City Central’s girls won titles just across the street at Nubs Nob in the Division 1 Finals.

Ben Crockett, who coaches the Petoskey boys, wasn't really surprised at that given the reputation of BNC schools producing quality skiers.

"We're getting a lot more challenges from schools in the Grand Rapids and Detroit areas," Crockett said. "To stay on top, we're going to have to keep working hard to be able to stay in the position that we're in, but we're feeling pretty good that we've got such good strength locally here."

Both Petoskey and GNA had a bevy of all-state finishers Monday.

For Petoskey in the giant slalom, Anders McCarthy was the leader taking third (1:02.13), Wyatt Mattson took fifth (1:02.86), and William Goelz placed 12th for second-team all-state (1:04.02). McCarthy (fifth) and Goelz (10th) finished with all-state honors in the slalom, Nolan Walkerdine (11th) and Mattson (13th) earning second-team all-state. Michael Iverson finished 21st in slalom to narrowly miss making the second team.

Sully Husband was the only Great North Alpine skier to medal in the morning session, taking fourth in the GS with a time of 1:02.41. Ayden Ferris (13th), Shane Pilate (15th) and Corbin Murphy (19th) each earned second-team all-state nods. Husband doubled up in the afternoon, finishing sixth in slalom, and Ferris joined him at the podium in seventh.

Husband attributed the team's success to getting four solid runs in. He said that's also what led to GNA's Regional title win over Petoskey.  

"I'm kind of happy that we got a nice finish," Husband said. "We got second place; kind of stinks that we didn't get first place. But you know, I'm happy that we made it down in one piece because that's really the challenge at the end of the day."

Ben Ferris, who coaches GNA, said it's always nice to bring hardware back. When a co-op school wins a Finals trophy, a duplicate trophy goes to each school that is a part of the co-op.  

"It's really about who skis the cleanest all day long and brings things together," Ferris said. "D2 has a really strong skier population anyways, so anytime you get somewhere up and you can make (it) in that top three it's a pretty successful season."

Division 2 Boys Skiing Finals 2Crockett said 10 titles in 11 years doesn't take away from the years the Northmen won eight straight. If anything, he said it's a good thing to have several teams knocking on the door.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (72 points) finished just behind Great North Alpine (71 points), narrowly missing a first top-two Finals finish in program history.

"We want a sport where we have competitive teams and where we're all pushing each other to be better athletes and better competitors," Crockett said. "I think the more competition that we have, and the closer it is, the more the win means."

Jack Lintol led the Fighting Irish in their third-place finish, taking home a title from the morning giant slalom session with a time of 1:01.35. Reed Heathman, who competed individually from Houghton, took second in that same event.

But then Heathman, a junior, came back and beat out Lintol in the slalom for the other individual title of the day. He had the fastest time on his first run with a 39.17 and built on that time with the fastest on the second run as well, a 41.95 to win with 1:21.12.

Heathman took third in GS last year — and said his goal going into last offseason was to improve on that.

“I’m glad to see that was accomplished. I’m happy,” Heathman said. “I didn’t know that I was going to win, but that was the ultimate goal. I knew that competition was going be tough, so I had my work cut out for me.

“I felt in control the whole time. I stayed forward, I stayed ahead of it, it felt good.”

Outside of Petoskey or Great North Alpine, the only other skiers to medal in both GS and slalom were Harbor Springs' Conner Truman and Quincy Thayer, a Frankfort student who competes for Benzie Central. Thayer took seventh in GS with a time of 1:03.31 and eighth in slalom at 1:26.06, while Truman was fourth in slalom at 1:23.40 and ninth in GS with a 1:03.80.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Petoskey celebrates its 10th Division 2 championship in 11 seasons Monday. (Middle) Houghton’s Reed Heathman races toward his championship in the slalom. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)

Petoskey Adds 2023 Team, Individual Championships to Finals Dominance

By Jordan Puente
Special for

February 28, 2023

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.

Houghton’s Eli Heathman eyes the path ahead during one of his races. "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.

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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.)