D3 Preview: Powers Converge Again

March 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Three teams that have combined to win the last four Division 3 competitive cheer championships again will contend at Saturday’s MHSAA Final.

Pontiac Notre Dame, Richmond and Comstock Park annually help finish the weekend’s final session, starting at 6 p.m. But five others are seeking their first MHSAA cheer titles – including two that have posted scores among the top four in the division this winter.  

Following are glances at all eight Division 3 teams competing at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex. All four Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a subscription basis.

Rank: No. 5
League finish: Second in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Tammi St. Onge, fourth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 771.12 at the Regional.
Team composition: 26 total (two seniors, nine juniors, three sophomores, 12 freshmen).
Outlook: Armada will return to the Finals for the second straight season after finishing fifth in 2014 and emerging from a District and Regional over the last two weeks that both featured the top two-ranked teams in the division. The Tigers have posted their top two scores of the season the last two weeks and own the top Round 3 score (320.8) in Division 3 this winter – that score also ranks third for all divisions combined. Junior Natalie Groen and sophomore Aja Bagley made the all-region second team last season.

Rank: No. 3.
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue.
Coach: Kathy Felty, 25th season.
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2011 and 2009, three runner-up finishes.
Top score: 769.48 at the Regional.
Team composition: 21 overall (11 seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: After a fourth place in 2013, Comstock Park moved back up to second at last season’s Final for its sixth top-two finish in seven seasons. The Panthers won all but four of their competitions this season, finishing second the other times, and have scored 763 points three of their last four events including wins at the District and Regional. A number of veterans will lead the title surge this weekend; seniors Sabrina Arnone and Brianna Pincombe made the all-state first team last season, while senior Hayley Robinson and sophomore Alyssa Geraghty made the second and senior Alexis Donley earned an honorable mention.  

Rank: Unranked.
League finish: Second in Lakes 8 Conference.
Coach: Jennifer Laskey, ninth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 732.72 at the Regional.
Team composition: 19 total (four seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Tri-County will make a second straight trip to the Finals after placing eighth last season. The Vikings also made their fifth straight Regional this winter and posted their top two scores the last two weekends. Senior Emily Rienks and junior Taylor Stressman earned all-region honorable mentions last season.

Rank: No. 4.
League finish: First in Greater Lansing Activities Conference.
Coach: Kim Martin, 21st season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 767.46.
Team composition: 21 total (10 seniors, six juniors, five sophomores).
Outlook: The Vikings are back in the Finals after missing last season and finishing eighth in 2013, and they’ve taken first or second in all of their events this season. Lakewood especially shines in Round 1, where its best score of 235.7 is the best in Division 3. The Vikings finished second in the Regional and earned a District title. Junior Samantha Morrison made the all-region second team in 2014.

Rank: No. 9.
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association.
Coach: Sarah Spears, second season.
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1994.
Top score: 770.66 at the Regional.
Team composition: 22 total (seven seniors, two juniors, six sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: Onsted opened this season with nine first places in its first 10 events and have returned to the MHSAA Finals for the first time since 2007, when Spears was a junior. She’s also led the Wildcats to league titles in both of her seasons and some impressive scores this winter – the top overall score is fourth-highest in Division 3, and their best Round 3 of 317.1 ranks second. Senior Lauren Richardson made the all-region second team last season.

Rank: No. 10.
League finish: First in Wolverine Conference.
Coach: Stefanie Miller, sixth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 746.68 at the District.
Team composition: 16 total (six seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores).
Outlook: Paw Paw has posted top-seven Finals finishes each of the last three seasons and will enter Saturday having posted two of its top three scores over the last two weekends. The Redskins opened this season by winning eight straight events and have broken 735 points three of the last four. Senior Chloe Bogema made the all-state first team last season, while senior Rylee Cunningham made the second and senior Maya Bishop earned an honorable mention.

Rank: No. 1.
League finish: Second in the Detroit Catholic League.
Coach: Beth Campbell, third season.
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2014, runner-up 2013.
Top score: 781.08 at the Regional.
Team composition: 29 total (seven seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores, nine freshmen).
Outlook: The reigning Division 3 champion has arguably been even better in 2014-15 with a top score entering the weekend 17 points higher than a year ago. Notre Dame Prep has the top Round 2 (231.18) and overall scores in Division 3 this winter and its average score (763.524) is nearly 12 points higher than the field. The Fighting Irish have broken 760 points in nine of 11 events. Seniors Alysa Gonzalez and Emily Schiavi made the all-state first team last season, while seniors Olivia Riley and Morgan Gales made the second team and juniors Paige Lombardo and Hannah Brzustewicz earned honorable mentions.

Rank: No. 2.
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Kelli Matthes, seventh season.
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2013 and 2012, runner-up 2011.
Top score: 772.4 at the Regional.
Team composition: 24 total (three seniors, two juniors, 12 sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: The Blue Devils finished fourth last season but have posted the second-highest overall score in Division 3 and have the second-highest average score (751.875) despite a team mostly made up of underclassmen. Seniors Sarahanne Marshall and Angel Deal made the all-state second team last season, and junior Emily Fitzsimons and sophomore Kaleigh Taylor earned honorable mentions. 

PHOTO: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep claimed its first MHSAA title last season after finishing Division 3 runner-up in 2012-13. 

Title IX at 50: Paige Miller's Story

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

August 16, 2022

The Paw Paw competitive cheer team has emerged as one of the state’s powerhouses especially over the last four years – and few people have had a better seat for the program’s rise than Paige Miller. The recently-graduated senior is the daughter of 13-year coach Stefanie Miller, and Paige made the Division 3 all-state first team this past winter for the third time while playing a significant role in the team posting its best Finals finishes in program history for the second-straight season.

Paw Paw finished second at the Division 3 Final in March for the second season in a row, this time just a point behind champion Richmond after coming within nine-tenths of a point of catching the Blue Devils in 2021. Miller will continue to cheer at Trine University, where she will study psychology and also compete in track & field after running on her team’s 400 and 800 relays and high jumping this past spring.

What the opportunity to compete as a female athlete means to Paige Miller

"I think it's provided me with a lot of essential skills that extend beyond the aspect of sports. It's provided me with the ability to talk and interact with others in a productive way. It allows me to push myself and others into a positive direction and also to know how to work as a team and collaborate effectively. Without sports, I don't know if I would've learned those lessons as deeply as I have.

“I’ve had some experiences, with my cheer teams, we've done tumble clinics or clinics to build up the younger program. And I'll be out at like the grocery store, and one of the little girls from the tumble clinic with come up and (say), ‘You're a Paw Paw cheerleader. I love everything you guys do. You're so cool. I want to be you guys when I grow up.’ And it's an amazing feeling to be someone that somebody looks up to.”

Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.

Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights

Aug. 9: Gracie Olsen's Story - Read
Aug. 2:
Maddy Stern's Story - Read
July 26:
Reese Miller's Story - Read
July 19:
Macy Irelan's Story - Read
July 12:
Bridget Boczar's Story - Read
July 5:
Ella Boose's Story - Read
June 28:
Kaila Jackson's Story - Read
June 23: 
We Celebrate Our Past, We Look Forward to Our Future - Read
June 21: Assistant Directors Have Been Difference Makers - Read
June 14: 
Girls Lacrosse Finals Officials Set Empowering Example - Read
June 7: 
From Gymnastics to Wrestling, Girls Opportunities Continue to Grow - Read
May 31: 
Mumford Sprinter's Magnificent 2006 Final Remains Unmatched - Read

May 24: Scane, Whiteside Alone on 400-Goal, 500-Point Girls Lacrosse Lists - Read
May 17: Over 8 Days in 1988, Pair of Champs Set No. 1 Singles Standard - Read
May 10: 
Portage Central's Tarpley Scores as State's Superstar, U.S. Soccer Hero - Read
May 3: 
Prychitko 'Legend In Her Own Time,' Legend for All Time - Read
April 26: 
Braddock vs. Verdun Still Striding Among All-Time Sprint Matchups - Read
April 19: 
Holmes' Strikeout Record Rarely Approached, May Be Unbreakable - Read
April 12: 
Anticipation High as 45,000 Girls Return to Spring Sports - Read
April 5: 
Regina's Laffey Retiring as Definition of Legendary - Read
March 29: 
Edison's Whitehorn named 2022 Miss Basketball - Read
March 22: 
Carney-Nadeau Sets Girls Hoops Standard with 78-Win Streak - Read
March 15: 
Binder Among Voices Telling Our Story on MHSAA Network - Read
March 8: 
29 Years, Thousands of Cheers - Read
March 1: 
Kearsley Rolls On Among Girls Bowling's Early Successes - Read
Feb. 22: Marquette Ties Record for Swim & Dive Finals Success - Read
Feb. 15: Jaeger's 2004 Winter Run Created Lasting Connection - Read
Feb. 8: Marian's Cicerone to Finish Among All-Time Elite - Read
Feb. 1: WISL Award Honors Builders of State's Girls Sports Tradition - Read
Jan. 25: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow - Read
Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: 
Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: 
Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: 
Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: 
Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: 
Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: 
Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: 
Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: 
Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: 
Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read