D4 Preview: Defending a Dynasty

March 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Michigan Center has built a Division 4 dynasty with its five MHSAA competitive cheer titles over the last six seasons.

But the Cardinals will have to fend another former dynasty this weekend if they are to extend that impressive streak.

Seven-time champ Breckenridge arguably is the favorite entering Saturday’s meet, which begins at 2 p.m., and eight-time champ Pewamo-Westphalia is in the mix again as well. 

Following are glances at all eight Division 4 teams competing at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex. All four Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a subscription basis.

BRECKENRIDGE
Rank: No. 1.
League finish: Second in Tri-Valley Conference West.
Co-coaches: Deb Gaines, 29th season; Jenna Graham, seventh season.
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2007), one runner-up finish.
Top score: 768.46.
Team composition: 16 total (seven juniors, five sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: In its second season back as a program, Breckenridge ascended to the top rank heading into the postseason and won its District and Regional the last two weekends. Total, the Huskies have won 10 events and own the highest scores per round and overall in Division 4. They finished fifth in Division 4 in 2014 after six seasons without a program, but this time return all-state first-team sophomore Alexandria Gillis, second-team junior Lindsey Reichard and sophomore Madison Smith and honorable mention junior Alicia Gutierrez and sophomore Harley Conklin.

HART
Rank: No. 7.
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference.
Coach: Jennifer Hlady, eighth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 705.72.
Team composition: 13 total (three seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Hlady started the Hart competitive program in 2007-08 and has led the team to five straight league titles and back to the Finals after it missed last season. The Pirates have finished third or better in all of their events this winter and won their District for the second time in three years. Sophomore Erika Wadel made the all-region second team last season.

HOUGHTON LAKE
Rank: No. 2.
League finish: First in Jack Pine Conference.
Coach: Celeste Kubiak, ninth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 754.1.
Team composition: 11 total (six seniors, four juniors, one freshman).
Outlook: Houghton Lake finished sixth at last season’s Final but should be in contention Saturday after posting the second-highest Round 1 (234.1), Round 2 (222.2) and overall scores in Division 4 this season. The Bobcats won 12 of their first 13 events this winter, finishing second only at the early-season Merrill Invitational. Senior Lauren Hooper made the all-state first team in 2014, while senior Vanessa Wallace made the second and senior Brooklyn Cryderman earned an honorable mention.

HUDSON
Rank: No. 4.
League finish: Second in Lenawee County Athletic Association.
Coach: Kelly Bailey, 18th season.
Championship history: Four runner-up finishes (most recent 2010).
Top score: 742.12 at the Regional.
Team composition: 18 total (three seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Hudson has finished third in Division 4 the last three seasons and enters with the fifth-best scores in all three rounds and overall this winter. The Tigers have scored 727 or better four times including in their last three events. Junior Takota Voelzke made the all-state first team last season, while seniors Rianna Middleton and Cassee Milligan made the second and senior Shian Beekel earned honorable mention.

MANISTIQUE
Rank: No. 8.
League finish: Does not participate in a league.
Coach: Lisa Selling, first season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 694.86.
Team composition: 10 total (five seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: The Emeralds are returning to the Finals for the sixth time in seven seasons after improving one spot to seventh last winter. Manistique also came downstate earlier this season and took fourth among a strong field at the Merrill Invitational. Senior Becca Bowers made the all-state first team in 2014, and senior Katie Davis made the second team.

MICHIGAN CENTER
Rank: No. 3.
League finish: First in Cascades Conference.
Coach: Jessica Trefry, 14th season.
Championship history: Five Division 4 titles (most recent 2014).
Top score: 750.78.
Team composition: 16 total (seven seniors, six juniors, three sophomores).
Outlook: The Cardinals are second only to Breckenridge in average overall score this year and have posted three of their top five scores over the last four events. A number of last season’s standouts will lead again Saturday; senior Michele Martin and junior Victoria Corwin are returning all-state first-teamers, while seniors Emily Kellogg and Ashley Sierminski and junior Olivia Manke made the second team and senior Vivian Horsch and junior Kali Stiles earned honorable mentions.

PEWAMO-WESTPHALIA
Rank: No. 6
League finish: Does not participate in a league.
Coach: Staci Myers, eighth season.
Championship history: Eight MHSAA titles (most recent 2010), nine runner-up finishes.
Top score: 746.08 at the Regional.
Team composition: 13 total (six seniors, four sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Pewamo-Westphalia missed last season’s Finals by one spot at Regionals but are back this weekend looking to build on three straight Finals runner-up finishes from 2011-13. The Pirates have pushed their scores upward throughout the season and rank among the top four in the division for high scores in each round and overall. Senior Jilian Jegla made the all-region first team last season.

SHELBY
Rank: Unranked.
League finish: Second in West Michigan Conference.
Coach: Penny Grinage-Guy, 17th season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 690.8.
Team composition: 16 total (two seniors, nine juniors, four sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Shelby is headed back to the Finals for the first time since 2012. The team has only two seniors but a veteran coach in Grinage-Guy, who formerly coached at Otsego and Zion-Benton Township in Illinois during the 1980s and 90s and also at Western Michigan University. The Tigers have finished among the top three in their last six events, finishing second to Hart in both the league and District. Juniors Rebecca Kukla and Brittany Shellhouse made the all-district first team last season.

PHOTO: Breckenridge finished fifth in Division 4 last season with a roster of all underclassmen, but is the likely favorite Saturday. 

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: 
28 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