Talented Multiples Multiplying Success at Elk Rapids, Petoskey

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

March 4, 2022

Big North and Lake Michigan Conference girls basketball players have been suffering from double and triple vision the last couple of years.

It’s not a medical condition. There’s no need to see a doctor for treatment. Players, coaches, referees and announcers just need to focus on the numbers.

No more double vision is anticipated in the Lake Michigan Conference when Elk Rapids steps on the court next winter a third-straight league championship. But there will be triple vision in the Big North Conference though as Petoskey seeks a second-straight title. And, the double and triple vision may continue this spring on the soccer pitch.

The double vision caused by the Elks stems from numbers 4 and 5. The triple vision some suffer further north is the results of numbers 11, 20 and 23.

Twin seniors Monika and Mary Gregorski wore the 4 and 5, respectively, as Elk Rapids picked up its second-straight LMC championship this winter. The Big North champion, Petoskey, had junior triplets Grayson, Eva and Caroline sporting the 11, 20 and 23, respectively.

The soccer rosters this spring may make opponents believe they have vision problems.  The twins and the triplets helped their squads make strong showings in the league and postseason last spring.

At one point this basketball season the Gregorskis and the Guys were playing together on the same court as the Elks slipped past the Northmen 41-39 at home.

“It was kind of cool that when Mary and I were on the court at the same time and they (Caroline, Eva and Grayson) were all on the court at the same time, half of the players on the court were twins or triplets,” said Monika Gregorski, who was the Elks’ 3-point specialist. “It was two different families but it made up half of the teams.”

Elk Rapids basketballFans and opponents looking closely at the Elks on the court may be able to differentiate between the twins by their playing. Monika buried 24 3-point shots during the regular season. Mary is the defensive stalwart, earnings an all-conference honor last year with her tenacity.

“They are different players on the floor and different off the floor,” said Elks coach Mike Brown, who had the twins all four years on the varsity. “But they have their togetherness. 

“Every shooting drill they’re attached at the hip,” he continued. “They’re both such good two-way players, and they do everything whether it’s rebounding or steals.”

Elk Rapids’ season ended Wednesday night with a loss to Traverse City St. Francis in a Division 3 District Semifinal. The Elks finished 18-3. They were 16-2 last year, falling to powerhouse Glen Lake in the District Final.

Petoskey saw its championship season end Monday night with a loss to league rival Traverse City West. The Guy triplets, who moved from Ohio to Petoskey at the start of the 2020-21 school year, played a huge role in the Northmen’s 14-7 season.

Petoskey coach Bryan Shaw benefitted from the triplets’ move north last season, along with then-senior sister Gabriella.

“It is something to have a transfer or two, but four is a whole different story,” the seventh-year coach said. “Coaching the triplets has been fun.

“As close as they are, they are all their own individual,” he continued. “They have fit right in with teammates, and while coaching we don't really see them as triplets but try to maximize the skill each brings to the game.”

Caroline contributed eight points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks per game this season. Grayson added 5.5 points and four rebounds, while Eva averaged nearly three points and more than two rebounds per game.

Elk Rapids basketball“All of them are competitive and work hard,” Shaw said of the Guy triplets. “Carol is more of a perimeter player, handles the ball well and shoots it well.

“Grayson is more of the swing-type player from the baseline or wing, but can also post up,” he continued. “Eva is steady. … She handles it when we need her to, defends well and hits open shots.”

Eva is turning her attention to soccer as she prepares for another season as a midfielder for the Northmen. Caroline and Grayson may not play soccer, perhaps choosing to focus on offseason basketball opportunities and conditioning.

The triplets don’t play a high school fall sport, and all list basketball as their favorite.  

“It’s a lot of fun because we have that bond and connection,” said Eva. “We have been playing together literally since birth. Like right when we picked up a basketball, we all wanted to play and pursue our dreams together.”

With the Guy triplets on the soccer pitch a year ago, the Northmen dropped a tough decision to TC West in their final regular-season game. A win would have given Petoskey the league title. The score was 0-0 at halftime.

“I have been fortunate to not only have had the opportunity to work with all the girls on the soccer field, but also in my economics courses,” said Zach Jonker, veteran Petoskey boys and girls soccer coach and teacher. “The leadership qualities they have developed in their athletic endeavors are also on display in the classroom.

“They each epitomize what it means to be a student-athlete,” Jonker continued. “Each of the sisters has a distinct positive personality, and collectively they have elevated both the culture of our program and the school climate.”

Petoskey basketballElk Rapids girls soccer and boys tennis coach Andrea Krakow, like Brown, also had the pleasure of coaching the twins’ older sisters, Megan and Molly. Megan is the current JV girls basketball coach.

Krakow said she takes the same approach with the twins as she does with any soccer player.

“As far as coaching twins, I have coached them as I would any other players — as individuals,” she said. “Soccer and doubles tennis are both team sports, so all players need to work together.”

“They each have their own personality and are different in several ways, thus I treated them and coached them as individuals.”

Regardless of sport, the twins and triplets believe having siblings on the team is an advantage as they know their teammates’ games inside and out. They all indicate a special joy from playing with their sisters.

“It is really fun playing with her (Monica) because we have, I want to say, is twin telepathy,” Mary Gregorski said. “We always know where each other are on the court.”

Grayson Guy believes it boosts team chemistry.

“I feel like a lot of troubles on teams is chemistry,” she said. “With the three of us going in, we automatically have so much chemistry. 

“We saw each other grow as players and as people,” she continued. “It is super nice to get on the court and see a familiar face.”

Caroline Guy points to personal and team growth over the past seasons coming from having triplets on the team.

“It definitely made us connect a lot more over the years – especially this last year,” she said. “Our connection together — and everyone around us on our team — has definitely grown. 

“Getting that closer relationship really helps us both inside and outside the sport.”

Elk Rapids and Petoskey are slated to meet on the Northmen’s soccer field April 7. The Elks won 2-0 at home last spring.

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (1) From left, Grayson, Eva and Caroline Guy with Petoskey girls basketball coach Bryan Shaw. (2) From left, Monika Gregorski, Elks soccer and tennis coach Andrea Krakow, Megan and Mary Gregorski. (3) Monika and Mary chat with Elk Rapids basketball coach Mike Brown. (4) From left, Caroline, Eva and Grayson Guy exit the bus for a basketball game at Traverse City West. (Photos by Tom Spencer.)

Williams Returns as Hudsonville Seeks Next Step in Pursuit of 1st Finals Title

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

April 19, 2024

HUDSONVILLE – It was a long eight months for Hudsonville’s Cadence Williams.

West MichiganThe junior standout tore the ACL in her right knee in October 2022 and was forced to miss last season, including the Eagles’ tournament run that saw them finish Division 1 runners-up.

“Last year was probably one of the hardest things I've been through,” Williams said. “It's hard to see the field through a different perspective and just looking at the different things that go on in your life personally.

“I don’t think I would’ve wanted anyone else by my side during that time as far as my teammates and coaches. I could not have done it without their support.”

Williams was playing in a club game with the Michigan Rangers when the injury occurred. She knew the severity immediately. 

“I was running and I changed direction, and right away I figured I knew what it was because I was the fifth person on my club team to do it,” Williams said. “I knew it was going to be a long road from there, but I could only think of the glass half-full and do what I could to get back.”

Hudsonville coach Holly VanNoord felt badly for Williams, especially after she had an immediate impact on the team as a freshman.

“It was super tough because we had so much momentum going because she had a great freshman year,” VanNoord said. “It's hard to impact the varsity level being a freshman, and I thought the way she started from the way she finished … it was just a compliment to the work she put in. We were excited going into sophomore year, so it was that much harder to hear the news when she tore her ACL.”

As difficult as it was for Williams to watch her teammates achieve success without her being able to contribute, VanNoord said Williams remained positive and continued to support them.

Kendall Aikens (15) maintains possession during last season’s Division 1 Final.“It shows a lot about her character because she constantly put the team in front of her personal emotions amongst her injury and never let it affect the team,” she said. “She continued to pour into others despite what she was going through, and that is what I’m proud of her most.”

The injury took its toll, but Williams took it in stride.

“It was physically demanding, but it was also challenging mentally,” she said. “But when I look back, I wouldn't change a single thing that I did to end up where I am today.”

Williams returned to the field late last summer, rejoining her club team. She’s thrilled to be back playing the game she loves and eager to help this year’s Hudsonville team duplicate last year’s success.

The Eagles advanced to their first Division 1 Final before suffering a disappointing 2-1 loss to Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.

“It feels wonderful (to be back playing),” Williams said. “I’m lucky that I have an opportunity to be on a team like this, and I couldn't wait for this season and to see how far we can go.

“I think we are very motivated, and we’re always looking for things to do to get better. I feel like every game we step on the field we just want to win.” 

It turned out to be a triumphant return for Williams in her first game this high school season. She scored two goals in a win over Plainwell.

“She had a great start, and she’s creating opportunities for us,” VanNoord said. “It’s been a great comeback season for her so far, and she is just a powerhouse. She works super hard, and it’s fun for me to see that her motivation is higher than ever.

“I think having that year off and being on the sidelines was super tough, but I think there are a lot of areas of growth and even just gratefulness. She can appreciate the game so much more, and it's probably easier for her to work hard just because she's motivated and fueled up more than ever.”

Williams is an important piece on a talented Hudsonville team currently ranked No. 1 in the state after a 5-0-1 start.

Other key returnees include seniors Kendall Aikens and Adelyn Raad, both four-year varsity players, senior keeper Reid DeGoede and sophomore Lauren Moylan.

Lauren Moylan steps into a kick last season. The Eagles, who graduated six seniors last spring, tied Forest Hills Central and opened Ottawa-Kent Conference Red play this week with a 4-0 win over Grand Haven.

“We had a tough start to our schedule, and we did that on purpose because we wanted a challenge,” VanNoord said. “We want to be one of the best teams in the state, so we have to compete against the best teams in the state. We’re happy with our wins, and even tying FHC made us a better team.”

Hudsonville finished 19-3-2 a year ago and is using the Finals loss as motivation.

“I think now that we got to the state Finals, the girls know what it takes,” VanNoord said. “I think last year they were excited to just get to the Finals, and I think losing put a bitterness in their mouth. They are more motivated than ever to get there, and they know they are going to have to work twice as hard because the Division 1 level is a constant battle.”

This year’s team is loaded with talent from top to bottom. The Eagles lean on a stout defense while possessing an array of playmakers.

“That’s what is so fun; they are very versatile,” VanNoord said. “From the backline of the goalkeeping all the way to the forwards. We just have so much talent and athleticism, and the girls are so willing to be coached and put their heads down and work.

“They are great kids, on and off the field, and culture is a big thing for us. Their buy-in has played a huge factor in our overall success.”

Williams believes this year’s team has the ability to make another extended postseason run.

“I think we have a lot of potential, and we’re still getting used to things and getting used to everyone on the team,” she said. “We play really well together, and hopefully we can make it just as far and hopefully pull out a win for a championship.”

Dean HolzwarthDean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Hudsonville’s Cadence Williams (21) works to get a foot on the ball during a 2022 game against Byron Center. (Middle) Kendall Aikens (15) maintains possession during last season’s Division 1 Final. (Below) Lauren Moylan steps into a kick last season. (Top photo courtesy of the Hudsonville girls soccer program; middle photo by Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)