Titans Believe, Achieve Second Straight

March 1, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – Southgate Anderson senior Morgan Farrah knew all along her team was capable of repeating as MHSAA Division 1 competitive cheer champion Friday.

But not until just before Round 3 began at the DeltaPlex – as Anderson’s fans chanted “I believe that we will win” from the stands – did she see in her teammates that they believed as well.

And only after it was announced did the Titans know for sure they had edged a close group of contenders at the top to win their second straight title. 

“We knew that we had a lot to back up to because we were the state champs, and we knew that the judges were expecting a lot from us,” Farrah said. “We had to give them more than what they were expecting.

“I knew that we were just going to go out there and pour our hearts out to those judges.”

The Titans improved from third place after Round 1 to second after 2 before finishing Round 3 with 780.36 points total to edge runner-up Hartland (778.48) by a mere 1.88. Rochester Hills Stoney Creek also was in contention until the end, finishing third with 777.08 points.

A year ago, Anderson celebrated its first MHSAA cheer title. But history moved fast Friday, and by the end of the evening the Titans were celebrating becoming just the third team in Division 1/Class A history to repeat as champion.

Anderson’s scores over their rounds were 232.7, 228.96 and 318.7, respectively. The Round 3 score was a full point ahead of the competition.

The run is even more impressive considering the team graduated nine after last season, many of whom participated in all three rounds. But as Anderson co-coach Colette Norscia put it, “We figured it out, how to get it done.”

“A lot of hard work. We had nine freshmen, so we had a really young team this year,” co-coach Stacey Shaw added. “And it’s all about just adapting to how everyone works.”

“Lots of times, we think more of them than what they think they can do themselves,” Norscia said. “We just gotta tell them we can. Every single day. … Even today.”

The Titans – champions of the Downriver League, which sent four teams to the Finals this weekend – came into the postseason ranked No. 3 in Division 1. But they also came to Grand Rapids off their lowest finish of the winter – third at the Regional.

Top-ranked Hartland, meanwhile, hoped to follow up Anderson’s 2012 achievement with its own first championship.

By placing second, the Eagles did post their best finish ever. But despite a notably difficult Round 3 that earned the second-best score, and the top-scoring Round 2, Hartland couldn't make up enough ground this time.

However, only three of the team’s 22 athletes graduate this spring.

“We’ve worked really hard, day after day. It’s a dream come true. I couldn’t ask for better,” Hartland coach Amanda Adkins said. “(Winning the title) is always a motivator. These girls are great at pushing themselves, and they always like to set their sights high.”

But Anderson could stand in the way again in 2014. The Titans too have only three seniors.

And the 22 athletes who could return next winter shouldn’t need convincing that they can extend the championship streak to three.

“It’s so much more exciting (this year) because we have worked so hard from day one, because we knew we’d have a young team,” Farrah said.

“I think we had to convince (our younger teammates) a little bit at first. But then we got to them, and they knew they were going to do it, too.”

Click for full results.  

PHOTOS: (Top) Southgate Anderson competes during Friday's Division 1 championship meet. (Middle) The Titans pose on the DeltaPlex floor with their newest trophy. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Team of the Month: Croswell-Lexington Competitive Cheer

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 14, 2023

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
Taylor Trillium Academy girls bowling - Report
Byron Center hockey - Report
Martin football - Report
Gladwin volleyball - Report
Negaunee girls tennis - Report