Preview: Reigning Champs Highlight Familiar Finals Field Returning to CMU

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

February 29, 2024

As the MHSAA Competitive Cheer Finals returns to Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena for the second-straight season this weekend, and to its past Friday-Saturday schedule, there is a sense of familiarity – and that’s bolstered even more by 24 of last year’s 32 contenders also returning to CMU.

Hudson in Division 4 is seeking a fifth-straight Finals title, while Rochester in Division 1, Gibraltar Carlson in Division 2 and Croswell-Lexington in Division 3 also are pursuing repeat championships.

Meanwhile, we will welcome Hanover-Horton to the Finals for the first time, and Plainwell and North Muskegon for the first time for both in more than two decades.

Division 4 leads off the weekend at 2 p.m. Friday, followed by Division 1 at 6 p.m. Division 3 starts Saturday’s competitions at 11 a.m., with Division 2 finishing the weekend at 4 p.m. The full schedule, plus information on purchasing tickets and how to watch online are all available on the Competitive Cheer page of

Division 1

League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Christina Wilson-Peacock, 12th season
Championship history: Class A runner-up 1999.
Top score: 791.2 at Regional.
Team composition: 25 total (seven seniors, six juniors, nine sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Brighton returned to the Finals last season with a fourth-place finish, and similar to last year have finished second at both its District and Regional over the last two weeks. The Bulldogs have scored at least 783 points in their last five competitions. Senior Autumn Miller made the all-state first team last season, while seniors Estella Marchesotti and Brooke Lampkins made the second and junior Adrianna Pembroke earned honorable mention.

League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Julie Smith-Boyd, 43rd season
Championship history: Six MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), 10 runner-up finishes.
Top score: 789.32 at Regional.
Team composition: 33 total (17 seniors, three juniors, nine sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: After having only two seniors on last year’s team, Grandville has 17 from a class that’s gained plenty of experience with Finals finishes of second, seventh and then fifth last season. The Bulldogs have scored at least 783 points in nine of 12 competitions, beginning with a 786.58 at their second this winter. Seniors Lexsee Pawloski and Brie Vanderplow made the all-state second team last season, and senior Emma Leonard earned honorable mention.

League finish: Second in KLAA
Coach: Candace Fahr, seventh season
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2013.
Top score: 791.96 at Regional.
Team composition: 23 total (eight seniors, eight juniors, six sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: The Eagles finished fourth in 2022 and eighth last season, and they enter this Final as repeat District and Regional champions – and this time having finished ahead of Brighton at both after placing second to the Bulldogs in the league. Hartland has placed first or second at all of its competitions this winter. Senior Molly Woolf made the all-state first team last season, and senior Faith Mikula earned honorable mention.

League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Coach: Lauren Turner, third season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 788.26 at Regional.
Team composition: 22 total (10 seniors, six juniors, five sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: L’Anse Creuse North is returning after finishing sixth last year and repeating as a District champion two weeks ago. The Crusaders’ Regional score was nearly five points higher than their next highest this season and placed them fourth behind the Rochester schools at that competition but only 3.12 points off the lead. Senior Lily Nahas made the all-state first team last season, and sophomore Addison Waters earned honorable mention.

League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Samantha Koehler, second season
Championship history: 15 MHSAA titles (most recent 2023).
Top score: 792.68 at Regional.
Team composition: 26 total (four seniors, 11 juniors, seven sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Rochester returned to the top of Division 1 last season in Koehler’s first leading the program after previously coaching Plymouth, and the Falcons are in position to add to that record championship total. They finished third to the other Rochester schools at the District and Regional, but less than two points off the lead at both. Seniors Madison Carpenter and Lena Cleveland made the all-state first team last season, while senior Sarah Newport and juniors Isabella Gungab and Aubrey Hillard made the second team and senior Kelly Burdick and juniors Morgan Calcagno and Natalia Grabovac earned honorable mentions.

League finish: Third in OAA Red
Coach: Brooke Miller, 10th season
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2022) four runner-up finishes.
Top score: 794.18 at District.
Team composition: 30 total (five seniors, seven juniors, 14 sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Adams finished second last season by nine-tenths of a point, ending a three-year championship streak – but the Highlanders wouldn’t stun anyone by claiming a fourth title over five seasons this weekend. They won their District by 62 hundredths of a point ahead of Stoney Creek, then finished 79 hundredths of a point back in the Regional rematch – and in both cases had the slightly superior Round 3. Senior Lily Hittle earned an all-state honorable mention in 2023.

League finish: Second in OAA Red
Coach: Tricia Williams, 21st season
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2019), Division 1 runner-up 2022.
Top score: 793.56 at District
Team composition: 32 total (11 seniors, five juniors, 14 sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: After finishing second in 2022 and third last season, Stoney Creek could take the final steps again this weekend coming off a Regional championship won ahead of the two other Rochester contenders – posting the top Round 1 and 2 scores at that meet. The Cougars have finished first or second at every competition but the first league jamboree. Seniors Abigail DeGraw and Alison Kalaj made the all-state first team last year, while senior Charlotte Cahill made the second team and senior Ariana Rabaut earned an honorable mention.  

League finish: Third in Lakes Valley Conference
Coach: Julia Tilt, fifth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 784.1.
Team composition: 20 total (five seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: East competed at its first Finals last season, finishing sixth in Division 2, and to return this weekend emerged from a third-place league finish to place third at its District and fourth at its Regional. The Cougars have twice eclipsed their top score from a year ago, including at the District. Senior Natalie Tilt made the Division 2 all-state second team last season, and senior Jacey Czajkowski earned an honorable mention.

Division 2

League finish: Second in Downriver League
Coach: Julie Goodwin, 20th season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2022), five runner-up finishes.
Top score: 793.72
Team composition: 23 total (10 seniors, five juniors, three sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Allen Park missed winning what would have been a fourth-straight Division 2 championship last season by just 68 hundredths of a point as rival Carlson took back the title. After finishing second to Carlson in the Downriver League this season, Allen Park won their Regional last week by 2.14 points to enter this weekend as arguably the team to chase. Seniors Allison Gombos and Gabrielle Simpson made the all-state first team last season, and junior Abigail Obrycki earned an honorable mention.

League finish: Second in Huron League
Coach: Emily Dusik, second season
Championship history: Class B runner-up 2003.
Top score: 781.0 at Regional.
Team composition: 22 total (five seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, nine freshmen).
Outlook: Dusik has Airport moving in the right direction quickly, as the Jets won their league in 2023 and added a District championship two weeks ago – and now their first trip to the Finals since 2006. Airport won that District by 1.7 points ahead of Carlson before finishing third at the Regional to Allen Park and Carlson last weekend, but with a score six points higher than its previous best this winter. Airport competed in Division 3 last season, with seniors Rylie Armstrong and Breanna Mulvin earning all-region recognition.

League finish: Tied for first in O-K Gold
Coach: Katy Hradsky, third season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 781.22.
Team composition: 21 total (five seniors, three juniors, six sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: After a year away, Cedar Springs is returning to the Finals for the fifth time in six seasons and on a five-competition winning streak that’s included earning District and Regional titles. More than half of the team are underclassmen, and the Red Hawks’ returning all-region honoree from a year ago is among them – sophomore Taylor VerDuin.

League finish: First in Catholic High School League Bishop
Co-coaches: Amber Genevich, 16th season; Michelle McClorey, sixth season
Championship history: Four Finals runner-up finishes (most recent 2014).
Top score: 785.88.
Team composition: 22 total (eight seniors, six juniors, five sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Divine Child moved up from fourth in 2022 to third last season, and the Falcons have surpassed 780 points three times over their last five competitions including to finish runner-up at their District to Allen Park. Senior Noemi Villarruel made the all-state first team last season, while senior Amanda Shumaker made the second team and senior Anna Watson and junior Isabelle Fronczak earned honorable mentions.

League finish: First in Downriver League
Coach: Alyssa Tocco, third season
Championship history: 12 MHSAA titles (most recent 2023), seven runner-up finishes.
Top score: 792.34.
Team composition: 22 total (two seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores, eight freshmen).
Outlook: Carlson won its first championship of the Tocco era last season with nine seniors on the team, and she has the Marauders in position to potentially repeat with a team that while younger still has experienced past title winners leading the way. Carlson has scored at least 783 points in all but one competition and broken 791 four times. Juniors Haley Sanchez and Sofia Lanzini made the all-state second team last season.

League finish: Tied for first in O-K Gold
Coach: Madelynn Lula, first season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 759.52 at Regional.
Team composition: 18 total (eight seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: After serving as an assistant for three seasons – and helping MTK return to the Finals last year for the first time since 2015 – Lula took over the program this winter and has the Trojans back after runner-up District and Regional finishes. MTK will look to build on last year’s fifth-place Finals finish after posting two of their three highest overall scores this season in those two meets. Seniors Kenady Smith and Anna Smith made the all-state second team in 2023.

League finish: Second in O-K Green
Coach: Lisabeth Smith, third season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 737.52.
Team composition: 26 total (five seniors, four juniors, nine sophomores, eight freshmen).
Outlook: Reeths-Puffer has added to its third-straight District title under Smith by reaching the Finals for the second time during her tenure and after missing a year ago. The Rockets won their District this time by nearly 14 points. Kendall Eek, Sydney Williams and Macy Fisher are among seniors finishing up standout careers.

League finish: Second in Wolverine Conference
Coach: Kylie Cook, fifth season
Championship history: Class B champion 2000, Class B runner-up 2001.
Top score: 762.9.
Team composition: 19 total (nine seniors, four juniors, six sophomores).
Outlook: Plainwell is returning to the Finals for the first time since 2003, and posted its second-highest score of the season in winning its District two weeks ago. The Trojans have placed third or higher in all of their competitions, and second or first in all but two. Seniors Raya Mergen Henry and Abigale Westerhouse earned all-region recognition last season.

Division 3

League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Coach: Deanna Misiak, eighth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 786.72 at District.
Team composition: 21 total (eight seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Armada will attempt to become the sixth-straight and third different Division 3 champion from the BWAC over the last six seasons after winning a league that included reigning champ Croswell-Lexington and 2019-22 title winner Richmond. The Tigers have scored at least 770 points in their last five competitions and edged Richmond for the final qualifying spot from their Regional, earning their first Finals trip since 2015. Senior Katelyn Carrigan earned all-District recognition in 2023.

League finish: Second in BWAC
Coach: Katie Tomlinson, ninth season
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2023.
Top score: 790.1.
Team composition: 20 total (seven seniors, nine juniors, three sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: The reigning Division 3 champion was edged by Armada in the league race, but came back to win their District by 3.24 points and Regional by nearly a point. Croswell-Lexington opened the season with a 765.5 overall score and has reached 783 points in its last four competitions, paced by the majority of the team’s standouts from a year ago. Seniors Shelby Oliver, Cora Katulski, Makayla Rice and Alexis Bales and junior Kaleigh Kelch all made the all-state first team last season, with senior Grace Hodges and junior Maggie Wallace are back after making the second team.

League finish: First in Huron League
Coach: Angela Raithel, eighth season
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2010), Division 3 runner-up 2009.
Top score: 786.18 in Regional.
Team composition: 21 total (six seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Grosse Ile placed fourth last season in its first Finals trip since 2014, and this winter won all of its competitions before finishing second at the Regional and just 96 hundredths of a point behind Croswell-Lexington. Junior Virginia West made the all-state first team last season, with senior Elizabeth Adamczyk and junior Avelinn Flynn making the second team and juniors Marissa Trombley and Arianna Bianchi earning honorable mentions.

League finish: First in Central State Activities Association
Coach: Jennifer Laskey, 20th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: N/A.
Team composition: 23 total (five seniors, nine juniors, five sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: A large group of upperclassmen are bringing Tri County back to the Finals after the team finished sixth last season. The Vikings placed third at both their District and Regional, topping at least 742 points at both meets. Juniors Tamya Johnson and Cadence Holtzlander and sophomores Briana Cheatham and Violet Bellamy earned all-region honors last season.

League finish: Tied for first in Capital Area Activities Conference White
Coach: Kim Martin, 30th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 771.76.
Team composition: 20 total (nine seniors, five juniors, one sophomore, five freshmen).
Outlook: Lakewood ran its league championship streak to 15 this season and returns to the Finals for the third-straight season, but this time as both a District and Regional champion – the latter for the first time during Martin’s tenure. The Vikings have finished first or second at all of their competitions this winter, and their top score is nearly five points higher than heading into the Finals a year ago. Senior Emily Pilar made the all-state second team last season, and senior Kylie Walkington earned honorable mention.

League finish: First in Wolverine Conference
Coach: Stefanie Miller, 15th season
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2022 and 2021.
Top score: 773.10.
Team composition: 17 total (five seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Paw Paw finished fifth last season but was in the championship mix after Round 2, and the Red Wolves have won all but three of their competitions this season including their District. A strong senior lineup brings plenty of Finals experience, with Molly Goodwin a repeat all-state first-teamer last season, Maya Leonard and Madison Lasinski returning after making the second team, and junior Taya Southworth having earned honorable mention in 2023. Senior Naveh Davenport and junior Ashley Olsen made the all-state second team in 2022.

League finish: Does not compete in a league.
Coach: Jocelyn Welsh, first season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2018), four runner-up finishes.
Top score: 786.86 in District.
Team composition: 23 total (three seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: Welsh previously served as Warren Fitzgerald’s head coach for three seasons and assisted Adams during its championship success, and she took over an NDP program this winter that missed last year’s Division 3 title by seven tenths of a point. The Fighting Irish finished second in their District behind Croswell-Lexington and third at the Regional that also included Grosse Ile and Armada, posting their second-highest score of the season in that competition. Senior Ava Quasarano made the all-state first team last season, while juniors Grace Kinkade and Paige Marlinga made the second team and junior Leila Mains and sophomore Adriana Soave earned honorable mentions.

League finish: Tied for first in CAAC White
Coach: Mindy Blaschka, 11th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 763.14.
Team composition: 21 total (nine seniors, four juniors, five sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: After making the Finals for the first time in 2022, Portland has earned its third-straight trip and will bring substantial experience after those first two. The Raiders have placed first or second in their last eight competitions, including at the District and Regional, as they seek to build on last season’s seventh-place Finals finish. Senior Autumn Schafer made the all-state second team last season, and senior Ava Adcock earned an honorable mention.

Division 4

League finish: Second in Cascades Conference
Coach: Sarah DuBois, third season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 739.86.
Team composition: 15 total (six juniors, four sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Hanover-Horton is headed to the Finals for the first time after finishing second at its District and third at its Regional. Sarah DuBois doesn’t have a senior, so this could be just the start, and she can supply plenty of experience as a competitive cheer coach for 23 seasons total, the first 20 at Vandercook Lake. Juniors Alexyn DuBois and Reyna Collins earned all-District honors last season.

League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Kelly Bailey, 28th season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2023), six runner-up finishes.
Top score: 766.28 at Regional.
Team composition: 20 total (six seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, six freshmen).
Outlook: Hudson is the standard in Division 4, with four straight Finals championships including last year’s won by nearly 26 points. The Tigers have finished first in all but two competitions this season, placing second in those, and their two highest scores have come in claiming District and Regional titles. Seniors Rylie Bloomer and Victoria Hawkins and junior Jayla Bright all made the all-state first team last season, while senior Kayden Rogers made the second team and senior Paige Clark and junior Courtney Rodifer earned honorable mentions.

League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference
Coach: Holly James, 11th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 712.56.
Team composition: 13 total (four seniors, one junior, five sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Lawton has finished seventh, third, and then sixth at the Finals over the last three seasons, and a younger team this time has finished first or second in all but two of its competitions this winter with a District victory among highlights. Senior Naomi Barkalow earned an all-state honorable mention last season, and senior Kiera Banks made the first team in 2022.

League finish: First in Mid-State Activities Conference
Coach: Jena Glazier, fourth season
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2014.
Top score: 756.08 at District.
Team composition: 9 total (five seniors, one junior, one sophomore, two freshmen).
Outlook: Merrill is following a strong senior class back to the Finals, with Veda Gagne and Hope Fiting all-state second-team selections a year ago and Samantha Grubaugh and sophomore Carli Breasbois having earned honorable mention in 2023 as the team finished fifth. The Vandals won their District two weeks ago by 24 points and finished third at a Regional that included Hudson and last season’s Finals runner-up Michigan Center.

League finish: First in Cascades Conference
Co-coaches: Jessica Trefry, 23rd season; Brianna Cash, second season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), two runner-up finishes.
Top score: 745.98 at Regional.
Team composition: 13 total (four seniors, two juniors, five sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: Michigan Center’s runner-up finish last season was its highest at the Finals since 2016, and the Cardinals have finished first or second at all but one competition this season. They finished second to Hudson at their Regional after winning their District the week before, and their four highest scores this season have come in their four most recent meets. Seniors Grayce Sarna and Kate Paterson and junior Emma McIntyre made the all-state first team last season, while junior Gabi Ruhl and sophomore Nora Fleming made the second team.

League finish: Fourth in West Michigan Conference Rivers
Coach: Melody Zziwambazza, second season
Championship history: Class D champion 1997, Class D runner-up 1995 and 1994.
Top score: 697.46 at Regional.
Team composition: 15 total (eight seniors, two juniors, four sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: One of the original powers in MHSAA competitive cheer, North Muskegon will compete in its first Final since 2002. Zziwambazza took over the varsity program in January 2023 and has coached the middle school team as well the last few seasons. The Norsemen improved from 10th in their District a year ago to fourth two weeks ago, and added nearly six points to their season-high score from that meet to finish fourth at their Regional and qualify for this weekend.

League finish: Does not compete in a league.
Coach: Staci Myers, 17th season
Championship history: Nine MHSAA titles (most recent 2019), 12 runner-up finishes.
Top score: 752.72 at District.
Team composition: 15 total (one senior, six juniors, six sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: A team with 10 underclassmen among 13 athletes total finished seventh a year ago, and these more experienced Pirates look like strong candidates to push up the standings after winning both their District and Regional with their two highest overall scores of this season. Senior Sophia Simon made the all-state second team last year, and sophomore Karsyn Simmon earned honorable mention.

League finish: First in Jack Pine Conference
Coach: Val MacKenzie, 34th season
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2018.
Top score: 751.58 at District.
Team composition: 14 total (one senior, six juniors, two sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Meridian is back at the Finals for the first time since 2019 after also finishing first or second at all but one competition this season. The Mustangs were runner-up to P-W at both their District and Regional, after ending their 2023 season with a fifth-place District finish. Those two most recent meets also saw Meridian post its two highest scores of this season, jumping more than 26 points from their previous best this winter. Juniors Lexi Cryderman, Danica Poston and Angela Nichols all earned all-District recognition in 2023.

PHOTO The Plainwell competitive cheer team competes this season; the Trojans are returning to the Finals for the first time since 2003. (Photo courtesy of the Plainwell competitive cheer program.)

Pioneering Competitive Cheer Official Cox to Receive MHSAA Norris Award

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 18, 2024

A registered contest official since the Michigan High School Athletic Association introduced competitive cheer with the 1993-94 school year, Quincy’s Candace Cox has played one of the leading roles in building the sport that’s averaged more than 5,500 participants annually over its 31-year history.

She will be celebrated April 27 as the 2024 Vern L. Norris Leadership in Officiating Award honoree during the MHSAA’s Officials Awards & Alumni Banquet, where she and several of her competitive cheer colleagues who began as registered officials that inaugural season also will be recognized for completing their 30th years of service in 2022-23.

The Norris Award is presented annually to a veteran official who has been active in a local officials association, has mentored other officials, and has been involved in officials’ education. It is named for Vern L. Norris, who served as executive director of the MHSAA from 1978-86 and was well-respected by officials on the state and national levels. He initiated the officials banquet in 1980, and this year’s will be the first in-person celebration since 2019. Cox will be honored along with high school game officials with 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50 years of service.

Competitive cheer is unique to Michigan. While several states have spirit or cheer as a sport, the MHSAA format – which includes teams showcasing a variety of skills over three rounds and encourages full teams to participate by scoring higher when more athletes are on the floor – was created in part to provide more opportunities for cheerleaders to compete. Cox brought her knowledge and experience in sideline cheer into the initial development of the competitive format.

She officiated a Regional competition during that first season of competitive cheer in 1993-94,  and the following season she began in a string of officiating at the last 30 MHSAA Finals, including in Division 1 this past winter. Cox also is in her 11th year as executive director of the Michigan Cheer Judges Association, the statewide leadership and training organization for the sport, and in that role she has trained thousands of officials – the MCJA instructs about 175 annually.

She will be the first competitive cheer official to be recognized with the Norris Award.

“At the very beginning, we didn't know what (competitive cheer) was going to involve, and there was a lot of work put in, a lot of committees, sharing a lot of information from sideline because Michigan is so unique to cheer,” Cox said. “At the very beginning, I never believed we would advance as much as we have. But I really feel we're a leader in the competitive cheer community.

“My favorite thing is helping educate and be involved, and I do it for the kids. I want them to have a positive experience, and I want them to learn, and I also want to educate other officials so they realize what an important sport this is … another sport for girls to compete in.”

Cox cheered while a student at Coldwater High School and became the sideline cheer coach after she returned from college. It was during that time she was approached by Marilyn Bowker, another of the founding trailblazers in the sport, and from then on Cox became a growing presence as competitive cheer continued to develop and thrive.

She has served on the MHSAA’s Competitive Cheer Committee and Judges Selection Committee, and is an MHSAA registered assigner in the sport. Cox was named MCJA Official of the Year in 1999 and Michigan’s top official in cheer by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in 2000.

“She’s been a pioneer since Day 1 in competitive cheer and is considered literally one of the fundamental pillars who have grown and promoted the sport over the years,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. “Candy is a very worthy Norris Award winner.”

Cox is the clinic manager at the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Community Health Agency and provides expertise from her professional field as part of the MHSAA’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee. A 1973 Coldwater High School graduate, she earned an associate’s degree in medical administration from Barton Bryman School in Phoenix in 1979 and is certified as an HIV counselor by the State of Michigan, and BLS (basic life support), CPR/AED and first aid instructor by the American Heart Association.

She has served her community of Girard Township in several roles, including currently as township supervisor after previously holding office as trustee and contributing on multiple boards and commissions. She’s also served as Branch County jury board chairperson and was named Branch County Citizen of the Year in 2011 by the Coldwater Area Chamber of Commerce.

Cox is a member of the Coldwater Early Bird Exchange Club and has served as president of the Bronson Polish Festival. She is active in service projects for St. Charles Borromeo Parish and judged CPR for local, district and regional Future Health Professionals (HOSA) competitions.

Previous recipients of the Norris Award

1992 – Ted Wilson, East Detroit
1993 – Fred Briggs, Burton
1994 – Joe Brodie, Flat Rock
1995 – Jim Massar, Flint
1996 – Jim Lamoreaux, St. Ignace
1997 – Ken Myllyla, Escanaba
1998 – Blake Hagman, Kalamazoo
1999 – Richard Kalahar, Jackson
2000 – Barb Beckett, Traverse City; Karl Newingham, Bay City
2001 – Herb Lipschultz, Kalamazoo
2002 – Robert Scholie, Hancock
2003 – Ron Nagy, Hazel Par
2004 – Carl Van Heck, Grand Rapids 
2005 – Bruce Moss, Alma
2006 – Jeanne Skinner, Grand Rapids
2007 – Terry Wakeley, Grayling
2008 – Will Lynch, Honor
2009 – James Danhoff, Richland
2010 – John Juday Sr., Petoskey
2011 – Robert Williams, Redford
2012 – Lyle Berry, Rockford
2013 – Tom Minter, Okemos
2014 – Hugh R. Jewell, West Bloomfield
2015 – Sam Davis, Lansing 
2016 – Linda Hoover, Marshall
2017 – Michael Gentry, Shelby Township
2018 – Jill Baker-Cooley, Big Rapids
2019 – David Buck, St. Joseph
2020 – Hugh Matson, Saginaw
2021 – Lewis Clingman, Grand Rapids
2022 – Pat Hayes, Birmingham
2023 – Chuck D. Walters, Jackson

High school game officials with 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50 years of service also will be honored at the Officials Awards & Alumni Banquet on April 27. Twenty-four officials with 50 or more years of service will be honored, along with 36 officials with 45 years and 51 officials with 40 years of service. A 30-year award will be presented to 110 officials, and 176 officials with 20 years of experience will be honored.

Tickets for the banquet are available to the public and priced at $25. They will not be sold at the door. Tickets can be ordered by calling the MHSAA office at (517) 332-5046 or by registering online at this link (officials must be logged into the website to register). Deadline to register is April 19.


20, 30, 40, 45 & 50-YEAR OFFICIALS

The officials on this list are receiving their 20, 30, 40, 45 and 50-year service awards.


Allegan - Joseph Munn
Allen Park - James Murdoch
Ann Arbor - Shawna Lorch

Bad Axe - Gary Krause
Bannister - Clyde English
Baraga - Scott Koski
Battle Creek - Lonzo Warren
Bay City - Jason Ruple
Bay City - David Szczypka
Belleville - Michael McCormick
Big Rapids - Marty Shaffer
Blissfield - Steven Babbitt
Bloomfield Twp. - Richard Dylewski Jr.
Bloomfield Village - Maynard Timm
Bridgman - Shane Peters
Brimley - George Jones
Bronson - Brian Case
Bronson - Kevin Gardner
Brownstown Twp. - Charles Monette Jr.

Cadillac - Demetrio Rojas-Cruz
Chassell - Robert Fay
Chassell - Shana Ruotsala
Chesterfield - Paul McBride
Clarkston - Jamie Rykse
Clarksville - Michael Burgess
Clinton Township - Mark Carney
Clinton Township - Brad Thomas
Clinton Township - Keith Justice Sr.
Commerce Township - Robert Foss
Constantine - Jerry Burgess
Cottrellville - Grant Harris

Dearborn Heights - Abasi Sanders
Detroit - Delonda Little
Detroit - Kevin Cleveland
Detroit - Cozette Ealy
Detroit - Cedric Green
Detroit - William Pugh
DeWitt - Mark Kellogg
Dewitt - Adam Miller
Dorr - Dan Heasley

East Lansing - Eric McGaugh
Estero - Michael Jager

Fenton - Paula McAllister
Flint - Rozier Looney
Frankenmuth - Matthew Krause
Freeland - Nick Horn
Fremont - Kevin Holmberg

Gaylord - Michael Switalski
Gobles - Randy Hood
Grand Blanc - Josh Dean
Grand Blanc - Anthony Klinck
Grand Blanc - David Clement
Grand Haven - Chris Romero
Grand Ledge - Brian Gorman
Grand Rapids - Marc Davis
Grand Rapids - Timothy Gildner
Grand Rapids - Lloyd Kilgore Sr.
Grand Rapids - Fritz Owen
Grand Rapids - Debra Rambow
Grand Rapids - James Stokes
Grand Rapids - Michael Underwood
Grand Rapids - Randy Wilson
Grandville - Kelli Polinskey
Grosse Ile - Michael Szczechowski
Grosse Pointe Woods - Douglas Bohannon

Harbor Beach - Jill Fuller
Harrison Township - Kimberly Broski
Haslett - Casey Kern
Haslett - Scott Bradley
Hastings - Fred Koning
Highland - Jason Zimmerman
Holland - Jayson Dibble
Holt - Andrew Hoard
Honor - Matt Olson
Horton - Jerry Waddington
Houghton - Gregg Richards
Howell - Anthony Vella
Howell - Nathan Thompson
Hudsonville - Roberto Ortega-Ramos

Ionia - April Holman
Ironwood - Guy Trier

Jackson - Tracy Boyers
Jackson - Troy Fairbanks
Jackson - Daniel Garrison
Jackson - Jim Miller
Jackson - Bernard Nabozny
Jackson - Douglas Richardson
Jenison - Alfred Kennedy

Kalamazoo - Jill Lansky
Kentwood - Andrew Terrien
Kentwood - Rus Tien
Lansing - Oscar Castaneda
Lansing - Steve Crowley
Lansing - Terry Harris
Lansing - Arthur Lilly
Lansing - Keith Rhodabeck
Lansing - Cameron Rodgers
Lathrup Village - Gerald Jones
Livonia - Scott Racer

Macomb - Terry Prince
Macomb - Don Kalpin
Manistique - Joseph Crowder
Manistique - Howard Parmentier
Marlette - Chris Storm
Marquette - John Schultz
Marshall - James Dyer
Marshall - Eric Earl
Marysville - John Schweihofer
Mason - Ammahad Wnaikau
Memphis - Steven Gray
Merrill - Malena Marr
Michigan City - Larry Jordan III
Middleville - Darrin Oliver
Midland - Thomas Coatoam
Midland - Alan Huntress
Midland - Douglas Jones
Milan - Jill Hargrove
Milan - Michael St. John
Milford - Jeffrey Garvin
Milford - Larry Walters
Mount Pleasant - Jeff Siler
Muskegon - Robert Koekkoek

Niles - Glenn Kimmerly
Niles - Cory Gowen
Northville - Doug Doyle

Ortonville - Laurel Kobe

Perrysburg, Ohio - Gregg Becker
Pickford - Marc Andrzejak
Pontiac - Wanda Clayton
Port Austin - Andrew Preston
Portage - Phillip Baker
Portage - Jeff Kirkman
Portage - Mike Lauraine
Portage - Michael Northuis

Reed City - Aaron Keup
Riverview - Gregory Drewno
Rochester - Avoki Omekanda
Rochester Hills - Michael Timko
Rochester Hills - Terry Zangkas
Royal Oak - Linda Mariani

Saginaw - Richard Moody
Saginaw - Charles Smith
Schoolcraft - Nathan DeMaso
Schoolcraft - Reid Jones
South Haven - Ken Dietz
South Lyon - Elisabeth Tyzo-DePaulis
St. Clair Shores - Chad Kelly
Sterling Heights - Robert Hornik
Sterling Heights - Patrick Radaj
Sterling Heights - Erik Schneider
Sterling Heights - Ernest Sciullo
Sterling Heights - Terry Sheen
Stevensville - Thomas Rivette
Stevensville - Douglas Wegscheid
Swartz Creek - Andrew Palovich

Tecumseh - Eryn Stamper
Temperance - Mike Faunce
Temperance - Larry Nocella Jr.
Traverse City - Jeffrey Brunner
Traverse City - Jason Meriwether
Traverse City - Thomas Spencer
Trenton - Brian Hill
Trenton - Kevin McMillion
Troy - Glenn Craze
Troy - Patrick Grady
Twin Lake - Mike Vanderstelt

Utica - Edward Kotulski

Wallace - Terry Unti
Walled Lake - Terry Prickett
Warren - Arthur Lynn
Wayland - Joseph Kramer
West Bloomfield - Ilya Beltser
West Branch - Howard Hanft
White Lake - Gregory Waun
Williamston - Kelli Hart
Wixom - Cuba Gregory III

30-Year Officials

Allen - Kent Sanborn
Allen Park - Mark Klein
Alpena - Robert Centala Jr.
Alto - Bene Benedict

Bad Axe - Brent Wehner
Baroda - Chris Falak
Battle Creek - John Crumb
Bay City - Stephen Linton
Bay City - Scott Packard
Bay City - Joseph Pietryga
Bessemer - James Trcka
Brooklyn - Gregg Wonderly

Caledonia - Stacy Smith
Center Line - Scott Manteuffel
Charlotte - Val Nelson
Chelsea - Eric VanHevel
Chesterfield - Anthony Mancina
Clinton Township - Barbara Laird
Clinton Township - Scott Walendowski
Comstock Park - Kathy Felty

Davison - James Edgar
Dearborn - Gloria Joseph
Dearborn Heights - Rick Ballnik
Detroit - Joyce Smith
Dowagiac - Scott Stewart

East Lansing - Brent Sorg
Eaton Rapids - Wesley Collins
Essexville - Mark Gentle

Farmington Hills - Robert Dobson Jr.
Fenton - Paul White
Flat Rock - Janis Stahr
Flint - Richard Higgins
Flint - John Yelle
Flushing - Jeffrey Straley
Freeland - Terry Schmidt

Grand Blanc - Thomas Le Blanc
Grand Blanc - Leonard Sparks Sr.
Grand Rapids - Jacquie DeJonge
Grand Rapids - Jeff Green
Greenville - Darcia Kelley
Grosse Pointe - Ryan Murphy
Grosse Pointe Park - George Markley
Grosse Pointe Woods - Renee Dicristofaro

Hazel Park - Benny Holzman
Hickory Corners - Dean Bostwick
Holt - John Massey

Imlay City - John Forti

Jacksonville Beach, Fla. - Bernadette Koenig

Kalamazoo - Julie Jones
Kalamazoo - Mark Kampen
Kingsley - David Lemmien

Lansing - Dee Hammond
Lansing - Robert Mccullem
Livonia - Steve Timm

Manchester - James Connors
Marinette - Neil Motto
Mason - Daniel Carmichael
Mason - Kathy Showers
Mattawan - John Visser
McMillan - Anthony Immel
Midland - Katherine Duso
Monroe - Carolyn Peters
Montague - Stanley Bush
Muskegon - Jacklyn Burr
Muskegon - Chris Calkins
Muskegon - Dennis Danicek
Muskegon - Randall Peters

North Muskegon - Tony Kartes

Ontonagon - Andrew Borseth
Ottawa Lake - Douglas Sanders

Paw Paw - Karla Koviak
Perry - Thomas Montpas
Petoskey - Mark Holland
Pierson - Joseph Williams
Pleasant Lake - Marty Shean
Plymouth - Richard Schmidt
Plymouth - Michael Rossman

Quincy - Candace Cox

Rapid River - Mike Pilon
Rochester - Janette Luttenberger
Rochester Hills - Katherine DiMeglio
Romeo - Mary Milke
Rossford, Ohio - Steven Agler

Saginaw - Thomas Nichols
Saline - Todd Schultz
Shelby - Todd Fox
Shelby Township - Sheila Brownlee
Shelby Township - Kristi Dean
South Lyon - Michael Kiselis
Sparta - Ryan Huber
St. Clair Shores - Gary Kowalewski
St. Joseph - Terry Myers
St. Joseph - Dave Waaso
Standish - Kimberly Belchak
Stanton - Jason Petersen
Sterling Heights - George Braund
Sterling Heights - John Moceri

Traverse City - Allen Hebden

Utica - Sean Barel

Waldron - Michael Granger
Walled Lake - Donald Magee
Warren - Joseph DiBucci
Washington - Gloria Berger
Wayne - Robert Allen II
West Bloomfield - Cynthia Tyzo
Williamston - David Sweeney
Wolverine - David Ashenfelter
Wyandotte - David Shalda
Wyoming - Stephen Hendrickson

Yale - Perry Sutherland

40-Year Officials

Adrian - Doris Goodlock
Allen Park - James Sombati

Battle Creek - Corby O'Leary
Bay City - Tony Biskup
Buchanan - Ronald Bartz

Cedar Springs - Dan Rypma
Charlevoix - Daniel Ulrich
Clark Lake - Ralph Piepkow Jr.
Clinton Township - Patrick Crandall
Crystal Falls - Lyle Smithson Jr.

Detroit - John Leidlein Jr.
Detroit - Richard Shalhoub

Eastpointe - Wayne Rockensuess

Fort Gratiot - Jeff Klausing

Garden City - Eric Hebestreit
Grosse Ile - Steven Vecchioni

Hancock - Brian Rimpela
Holland - Brent Hoitenga
Hudsonville - Gerald Kuiper

Jackson - Thomas Morrissey
Jackson - Joseph Page
Jonesville - Kirk Snyder

Kentwood - William Meade

Lake Orion - James Weidman
Lansing - Daniel Kitchel
Lapeer - Gary Oyster
Lapeer - Scott Strickler

Macomb Township - William Gerbe
Mayville - Gary Libka
Midland - Bradley Crampton

Newaygo - Clinton Abbott

Ray - David Hines
Reed City - David Erler
Republic - Paul Price
Rockford - Carl Knoop
Rogers City - Karl Grambau
Roseville - Mario Soresi

Saginaw - Michael Mayers
Saginaw - Richard Welzein
Saginaw - Dennis Wildey
Sand Creek - Jack Sager
Sault Ste Marie - Dale Cryderman
St. Clair Shores - Gerald Garcia
St. Joseph - Bruce Molineaux
Swartz Creek - James Loria

Temperance - Michael Bitz
Traverse City - Barbara Beckett

Walled Lake - Nicholas Lesnau
Waters - Rick Sehl
Wolverine - Aimee Davis

Ypsilanti - Jerry Kelley

45-Year Officials

Alpena - Scott MacKenzie

Berkley - Charles Tyrrell
Boyne City - Peter Moss
Bronson - Randy Houtz
Brown City - Curt Lowe
Buchanan - Larry Monsma
Burton - Thomas Rau Sr.

Cheboygan - Peter Stempky
Conklin - Gary Meerman

East Lansing - Bruce Heeder

Flint - Joseph Johnson Sr.
Flushing - David Cowden
Fowler - Dean Schrauben
Frankfort - Peter Olson

Grand Rapids - Todd VandenAkker

Haslett - Heidi Doherty
Holland - Craig Kuipers
Houghton - Roy Britz

Iron Mountain - Robert Barkle

Jenison - James Kerbel

Lake Isabella - James Novar
Linden - John Cross

Madison Heights - Joseph Marcinkowski
Muskegon Heights - Johnny Robinson

Oxford - Donald Maskill Jr.

Plymouth - Charles Hempel
Portage - Richard Bird
Portage - Robert Burch
Posen - Donna Couture
Prescott - Charles Wren

Roseville - Robert Iwasko Sr.

Shelby Township - Michael Gentry
South Bend, Ind. - Dale Matteson
South Lyon - Dan Riggs

Taylor - Clayton Conner

Warren - Vern Rottmann

50-Year Officials

Adrian - Gary Laskowsky
Ann Arbor - Michael Parsons

Canton - David Mattingly
Caseville - Daniel Korbutt

DeWitt - Raymond Barnes

Fenton - Hewitt Judson
Fruitport - David Fisher

Kalamazoo - David Turley

Livonia - Steven Boyak
Livonia - John Dunn
Ludington - Roger Chappel

Marlette - Jerry Sauder Sr.
Marquette - Gene Aho

Ontonagon - John Gravier

Palmetto, Fla. - Donald Bourdon

Rodney - Jeffrey Greene
Rogers City - Michael Grulke

Saginaw - Richard Havercroft
South Haven - Robert Linderman
South Lyon - Richard Gibson
Stevensville - Bruce Arter

Traverse City - Tom Post

West Bloomfield - Anthony Magni
Whitehall - Chuck Hulce

PHOTO: Candy Cox prepares to judge during the 2018 MHSAA Competitive Cheer Finals. (Photo courtesy of the Michigan Cheer Judges Association.)