Adams All Business In Division 1 Title Repeat

By Tom Kendra
Special for

March 26, 2021

EAST LANSING – Rochester Adams eked out its first Finals championship last year, but this time the Highlanders gave their nerves a little bit of a rest.

Adams posted the best score in all three rounds in Friday’s Division 1 championship competition at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center for a 790.52 total, nearly eight full points better than unexpected runner-up Grandville (782.60).

“We expected to win this year – that was our mindset,” said Claire Crutchfield, one of seven seniors on the Highlanders’ roster.

“Maybe we didn’t think we’d win by that much, but we have been working non-stop since state last year and all of that hard work has paid off.”

Plymouth (782.36) placed third after last year’s runner-up finish, and Grand Blanc (780.30) took fourth.

Adams now has finished either first or second in Division 1 four years in a row, with runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019.

Grandville competitive cheerThe Highlanders lost only four seniors off last year’s team and had a strong group of senior leaders this winter. Crutchfield and Olivia Ris are both returning first-team all-staters, Ava Bondra was second team in 2020, Melina Catenucci and Carly Schultz were honorable mention and the other seniors are Maya Dalal and Kennedy Lloyd.

Brooke Miller, who is in her seventh year as Adams coach, said her team’s business-like approach was critical Friday and throughout the season, as it won all but one competition all year.

“We do a lot of visualization and practice keeping our nerves in check,” explained Miller, who is assisted by Jocelyn Welsh, Quin Gonzalez and Alison Keaser. “Then when we get in a pressure situation, it’s kind of business-like. It’s just doing what we do.”

The win also solidified Rochester as the epicenter of Division 1 cheer in Michigan. The city in northern Oakland County has produced five of the past six D1 champions – with Rochester winning in 2016 and 2017 and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek in 2019.

The hardest part of the day for the Highlanders’ seniors was when it ended.

“I’ve never been on a team with a bond like this, so yeah, it was very bittersweet running off that mat for the last time,” said Schultz.

The biggest surprise of the day was Grandville, which didn’t even make the Finals last year and got off to slow start Friday, sitting in sixth place after the first round.

But the Bulldogs kept fighting and moved up to fourth after a solid second round. Then they nailed their third round to vault all the way to second when the final results were announced.

“What a Round 3; we really hit it,” said Grandville coach Julie Smith-Boyd, who is the dean of state cheer coaches in her 40th year. “We didn’t make it to state last year and we have a very young team, so just getting here was a big accomplishment – taking second is fantastic.”

Smith-Boyd has led Grandville to six Finals titles, the most recent in 2015, and now has 10 runner-up finishes.

This season’s may have been the most unanticipated of any of those top finishes, as the Bulldogs had just three seniors, who were also the team’s captains – Chloe Beatty, Ellie Irwin and Charli Sanchez.

Click for full team standings.

PHOTOS: (Top) Rochester Adams celebrates its repeat championship in Division 1 on Friday. (Middle) Grandville rose from sixth after Round 1 to finish runner-up. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Team of the Month: Croswell-Lexington Competitive Cheer

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 14, 2023

The Croswell-Lexington competitive cheer team had finished fourth, fifth and fourth, respectively over the last three Division 3 Finals as this season began in November with more high expectations – but also the annual challenge of believing those could be attained.

Competing in the same Blue Water Area Conference as Richmond, the Pioneers are more familiar than most with the program that entered the season coming off a fourth-straight Division 3 title. And as a regular at Finals weekend, Cros-Lex also is plenty aware of the power of Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, the only other team besides Richmond to win a Division 3 championship between 2012-22.

But during the Pioneers’ first competition this winter, coach Katie Tomlinson knew this could be the team to rise above that history and make some of its own.

Cros-Lex finished fifth of 18 at the Jan. 6 Richmond Invitational, but second in Division 3 to only the host Blue Devils, and with scores including a D3-best 309.30 in Round 3.

“For our first competition, (we had) some of our best scores we’ve ever received – and typically our first competition is really tough for us. So that was kind of a turning point,” Tomlinson said. “Just the confidence they had that first night, competing for the first time, it was just a shift.”

That shift provided early momentum as Cros-Lex made one of the most impressive championship moves in any winter sport this season.

The Pioneers are the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for March after finishing their season as MHSAA Finals champions in the sport for the first time, overcoming a 1.24-point deficit to Richmond after Round 2 to win the Division 3 title at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena.

Croswell-Lexington finished with three-round score of 776.72, seven-tenths of a point better than runner-up Notre Dame Prep and with nearly two points more than the Blue Devils. The Pioneers launched into the lead with a 314.50 in Round 3, the second-best score for that round in the competition.

“I think that it was such a shock for them in the moment and so exciting and rewarding,” Tomlinson recalled this week, “but it definitely was the work put in, just like every other team, and believing in themselves and just going out there and doing what we always do and what we’d worked hard for and what we’d put in that time and effort for – and just watching it pay off. It was kind of a mix of just really believing in ourselves – it’s been a challenge for a few years now building up that confidence to know that they are a team that’s worthy of a state championship and then proving that. They earned it.”

And it was truly a team effort. Cros-Lex had 28 athletes, and only one of the other 31 teams across four divisions at the Finals – Division 1 Grandville with 30 – had more on the roster. Of those 28, 22 competed in at least one round at CMU. Juniors Alexis Bales, Cora Katulski, Shelby Oliver and Makayla Rice and sophomore Carly Old competed in all three rounds, while seniors Noelle Golda, Santanna Horning and Emma Six and sophomores Larkin Krohn, Niah Krohn, Kaleigh Kelch and Addyson Sharpe competed in two rounds. Seniors Cassidy Seaman, Deborahann White, Maria Tabernero and Alleyna Martinez; junior Grace Hodges, sophomores Emma Yearkey, Madison Greenaway, Maggie Wallace and Addison Gardner; and freshman Chelsea Miller also took the mat.

Oliver, Katulski, Rice, Bales, Old and Kelch made the all-state first team. Wallace, Hodges and Sharpe made the second team, and Six, Horning and Golda earned honorable mentions.

Cros-Lex had finished second to Richmond in the BWAC and second to Notre Dame Prep at their District before finishing third to both at the Regional. The Pioneers had never finished higher than fourth at a Final.

“We are up against (Richmond) quite a bit and I’m super close with Kelli (Blue Devils coach Kelli Matthes) … and honestly, we enjoy going to the competitions that have those teams that have won on that stage,” said Tomlinson, who has been part of the Pioneers cheer program since seventh grade beginning as an athlete and including the last eight seasons as head coach. “It sure pushes us further to be better and keep improving instead of staying satisfactory.

“It does make it hard when you’re up against such powers for years where they take it every single year. It makes the girls second-guess themselves and their capabilities, so that was a big thing that we started back in June for sideline and tried since to implement every day – the confidence and the belief in ourselves that even though they’re great, we are too.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2022-23

February: Hart girls & boys basketball - Report
Taylor Trillium Academy girls bowling - Report
Byron Center hockey - Report
Martin football - Report
Gladwin volleyball - Report
Negaunee girls tennis - Report