Rochester Adams has risen above the rest of Division 1 to win the last two Finals championships, and few would argue with the Highlanders as at least one of the favorites heading into Friday’s season-ending competition.
But the Grand Rapids Delta Plex also will welcome back the two most successful championship winners in Division 1/Class A history, plus four more teams that have finished first or second at this event over the last decade and an eighth team that came in third only two seasons ago.
Division 1 competition begins at 6 p.m. Friday. Tickets cost $10 and may be bought at the Delta Plex, and all four Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable with a subscription. More information, including the spectator seating chart, is posted at MHSAA.com.
Below is a look at all eight finalists:
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League.
Coach: Christina Swansey, 11th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 790.92.
Team composition: 24 total (six seniors, eight juniors, six sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: The Bobcats finished fourth last season, their fourth straight finish among the top five in Division 1, and they could make another run this weekend at a first top-two finish after coming in third in 2020. They won their District and Regional the last two weeks going over 786 points at both. Seniors Adrianna Fuller and Isabella Haber are returning all-state first teamers, senior Jackie Kloph made the second team last season and junior Nevaeh Keller earned honorable mention.
League finish: Third in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Julie Smith-Boyd, 41st season
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), 10 runner-up finishes.
Top score: 785.6.
Team composition: 25 total (eight seniors, two juniors, 14 sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Grandville returned to the Finals after a season away in 2021 and claimed its 16th top-two finish, placing second – its highest since 2016. This season’s team has posted its top two scores over its last two competitions, winning its District and finishing third at its Regional. Senior Elyse Friberg made the all-state first team last season, seniors Cece Duffy, Santana Duffy and Ashley Lam made the second, and senior Alexis Parker and sophomore Lexsee Pawloski earned honorable mentions.
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association Gold
Coach: Candace Fahr, fifth season
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2013.
Top score: 787.16 at Regional
Team composition: 26 total (one senior, nine juniors, 12 sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Hartland missed the Finals last season but is back for the third time in four years – contending this time but also likely building for the next few with large junior and sophomore classes anchoring the roster. The Eagles have scored 782 or higher four of their last five competitions. Junior Lily Pies earned an all-District honorable mention in 2021.
League finish: Second in O-K Red
Coach: Andrea Crowley, fifth season
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2012.
Top score: N/A but did score 783.94 at Regional
Team composition: 29 total (12 seniors, 13 sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Hudsonville is back at the Finals for the first time since 2017, following a sizable senior class after just missing with a fifth-place Regional finish last season. The Eagles finished only 38 hundredths of a point off the lead at their District two weeks ago, also scoring better than 780 points at that meet. Seniors Jadyn Jarosch, Ava Ham and Amanda White all earned all-Regional recognition in 2021.
League finish: Third in KLAA Gold.
Coach: Samantha Koehler, seventh season
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2020.
Top score: 787.98 at District.
Team composition: 31 total (11 seniors, eight juniors, eight sophomores, four freshmen)
Outlook: Plymouth has been in the championship mix the last two seasons finishing third last year and second in 2020. The Wildcats won their District two weeks ago by nearly eight points, and their 787.16 at the Regional was their second-highest score this winter. Senior Allison Cassar is a returning two-time all-state first teamer, while Avery Maruszewski and Natalia Muzquiz Inda made the second team in 2021 and senior Hailey Tocco and junior Lexi Macyda earned honorable mentions.
League finish: Third in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Susan Wood, 41st season
Championship history: 14 MHSAA titles (most recent 2017), four runner-up finishes.
Top score: 789.9 at District
Team composition: 25 total (nine seniors, nine juniors, four sophomores, three freshmen)
Outlook: The MHSAA record holder for most Finals championships in this sport is back after a 2021 season derailed by COVID-19, and with plenty of power having nearly reached 790 points at both the District and Regional. The Falcons are made up mostly of upperclassmen and do have Finals experience on which to draw, with senior Holly McDonald an all-state second teamer and senior Isabella Olivares earning honorable mention when the team finished fifth in 2020.
League finish: First in OAA Red.
Coach: Brooke Miller, eighth season
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2021 and 2020, three runner-up finishes.
Top score: 792.16 at District.
Team composition: 25 total (nine seniors, 10 juniors, six sophomores).
Outlook: Adams has moved from a back-to-back runner-up in 2018 and 2019 to a back-to-back champion the last two seasons, clearing the field last winter by nearly eight points. And that said, they have two scores this season higher than their highest heading into Finals weekend a year ago, posting them to win District and Regional titles. Senior Gigi Schultz made the all-state first team last season, while seniors Christina Truszkowski, Sabrina Lee and Destini Dorkins made the second team and junior Emma Maynard earned an honorable mention.
ROCHESTER HILLS STONEY CREEK
League finish: Second in OAA Red.
Coach: Tricia Williams, 19th season
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2019 and 2010.
Top score: 790.30 at District.
Team composition: 21 total (nine seniors, three juniors, eight sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Stoney Creek returned to the Finals last season and finished eighth, and its best score this season is nearly two points better than this time a year ago. The Cougars have scored 781 or better at eight competitions and 787 or higher three of their last four. Seniors Ella DeGraw, Rachael Kim and Jenna Lanfear earned all-Regional recognition last season.
PHOTO Rochester Adams competes during Round 2 of last season’s Division 1 Finals at Breslin Center. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)
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
January: Taylor Trillium Academy girls bowling - Report
December: Byron Center hockey - Report
November: Martin football - Report
October: Gladwin volleyball - Report
September: Negaunee girls tennis - Report