Traverse City West Follows Another Lewandowski to 2nd-Straight Title

By Andrew Rosenthal
Special for Second Half

February 28, 2022

BOYNE FALLS — Traverse City West’s two-year ski dynasty is bookended by two Lewandowski brothers. 

Sophomore Caleb Lewandowski won the slalom championship Monday at the Division 1 Finals at Boyne Mountain to lead the Titans to the second of their first back-to-back ski team titles since the school opened in 1997. His older brother Aiden had led West's 2021 championship run with a giant slalom win. 

Aiden also had won the respect of Rochester Adams senior Nathan Dehart, Monday’s GS winner. The two schools are separated by nearly a four-hour drive and 227 miles, but Dehart knew the Lewandkowski brothers well. He competed with Aiden in USSA Team Michigan events across the country. 

“I’ve raced against (Aiden) for a long time,” Dehart said after he gave Caleb a celebratory carry at the finish line.

“I trained really hard to get into this situation, and I try to win every week. It feels good to finally win one my senior year.”

The two first-time Finals champions were runners-up in each-others disciplines, with Dehart edging Lewandowski in GS and Lewandowski racing past Dehart in slalom. They congratulated each other, they celebrated with each other on the podium, and Dehart even spent most of the awards ceremony hanging out with the Titans' boys team. 

“I was trying to make it down, but also get a fast time. The team was doing really well, so I had to finish for them too,” Lewandowski. “I still have two more years to try and win some more.” 

Traverse City West claimed the title over Traverse City Central by 36.5 points. The Titans should next season return several from a sophomore-heavy group, including Lewandowski. 

Rochester Adams skiingA few seniors graduate — including all-state slalom finisher and captain Andy Hill — but West also returns several fast underclassmen. For example: TC West’s all-state sophomore Charlie Licht (3rd) wasn’t even on the Finals title roster last year. Juniors Luke Wiersma (fifth in GS, eighth in slalom) and Ben Schramski (seventh in GS, fifth in slalom) both had two all-state finishes. 

“Any one of those top 4-5 boys could have won today,” TC West coach Ed Johnson said. “All of them skied where they needed to within their abilities. It was exciting to see Caleb win and then be able to have his teammates kind of stack up right behind him.” 

Crosstown foe Traverse City Central finished runner-up to the Titans with a trio of all-state finishers. Asher Paul (eighth in GS, fifth in slalom) came home with two medals. Jace Rowell took third in GS, and Michael Booher claimed eighth in slalom.

The Trojans have now hit the 30 mark in boys skiing trophies, capturing their program’s 11th runner-up nod with 19 Finals championships. They finished fourth last year and have been runners-up in five of the past eight seasons. 

It wouldn’t be fair to call the two schools rivals — well, at least for skiing. The two schools celebrated with each other for nearly a half hour. 

Central coach Amy Kudary said the Trojans have been solid all year long and a runner-up nod to West is still a great accomplishment. The Trojans defeated the Titans at the Peppi Town Slalom meet earlier in the year — the biggest ski meet within the city limits of Traverse City. 

“We knew that was a possibility, but still a lot of stars had to align to make it happen,” Kudary said. 

Adams took third with a score of 90, led by Dehart’s all-state finishes. The Highlanders had a good showing in slalom, with Brayden Tapert (eighth) and Bryce Tapert (seventh) both landing in the top 10.

Individual all-state medalists not from the top-three finishing teams were Marquette’s Sam Dehlin (fourth in GS, fifth in slalom), Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern-Eastern’s JD Amann (sixth in GS), Hart’s Bryce Natter (ninth in GS, 10th in slalom), Clarkston’s Luke Farella (10th in GS) and Okemos’ Michael Benevegna (seventh in slalom).

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PHOTO (Top) Traverse City West’s Caleb Lewandowski leans into a turn during a slalom run Monday at Boyne Mountain. (Middle) Rochester Adams’ Nathan Dehart pulls into the finish of a giant slalom run. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)

Galbraith Sets Pace as Petoskey Continues Magnificent Finals Run

By Jordan Puente
Special for

February 27, 2024

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.”

Houghton’s Eli Heathman speeds down the hill on the way to winning the giant slalom.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.

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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. Click for all photos.)