GRAND RAPIDS – As freshmen, Hudson’s Maize Sholl and Logan Parks felt the heartbreak and disappointment of missing out on a competitive cheer state championship by the slimmest of margins.
It was a feeling the pair would never have to experience again.
Hudson delivered a dominating performance Friday to win the Division 4 Final at the Delta Plex.
It was the Tigers’ third consecutive Finals title and fourth in the last five years.
Hudson finished with a three-round total of 759.80 and set a new Finals record for widest margin of victory.
Adrian Madison placed runner-up at 709.12. It was the Trojans’ first top-two finish.
“It’s just unbelievable to me and it’s like a dream come true,” Parks said. “I think freshman year when we lost by .36 (points), it just brought a fire to us and we just kept pushing. Everyone on this team has such a passion for cheer.”
Hudson finished runner-up to Pewamo-Westphalia in 2019, but hasn’t been defeated at the Finals since.
“Obviously we had a lot of doubts our freshmen year, and it really motivated us,” Sholl said. “It put a fire on our rear end. Coming out and winning all three rounds and breaking the record for most points won by was incredible.”
The Tigers were heavy favorites entering the day and proved quickly that they weren’t going to relinquish that role.
Hudson recorded a high score of 227.90 in Round 1 to grab a commanding lead. The advantage ballooned to more than 30 following an impressive Round 2.
“They were on fire all day,” Tigers coach Kelly Bailey said. “I still can’t ever get rid of their nerves, but I’m so proud of them.
“We talk a lot about preparing ourselves for this moment, and this feels absolutely amazing. We’ve won them all for these kinds of kids.”
Hudson’s roster included only three seniors, and several underclassmen who shined in all three rounds.
“We had a lot of kids who stepped up this year, and they really brought the fire and made us better,” Sholl said. “We put in a lot of hard work, and everyone was dedicated.”
Despite the large lead entering Round 3, the Tigers capped the day with another high score, 311.
“After we were told that we were up by a lot, it was just about going out there and having fun because it was our last time on the mat,” Sholl said. “This is the best thing ever, and there’s nothing better than ending your high school career with a three-peat.”
Madison’s previous best finish at the Finals was fourth the past two years, but the Trojans held off third-place Lawton with the second-highest score in Round 3.
“Coming into today, my biggest expectation was for them to peak and to do their best of the season,” Madison coach Sarah Kope said. “They did that, and they were phenomenal. The past two seasons have been crazy with quarantines constantly and having girls in and out, and they’ve just been extremely resilient. I’m very proud of them.”
PHOTOS Hudson (top) and Adrian Madison (middle) compete during Friday’s Division 4 Final at Grand Rapids’ Delta Plex. (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