Unexpected Return Propels EGR to 3-Peat

June 7, 2014

By Butch Harmon
Special for Second Half

ROCKFORD – East Grand Rapids senior captain Charlotte Hooker was determined to make it back and play at least one game of her senior lacrosse season. 

Hooker reached that goal and then some as she came back from injury in time to play in both the MHSAA Semifinal and Saturday’s Division 2 lacrosse championship game against Okemos.

Hooker scored goals in both games, including one in the title match to help the Pioneers defeat Okemos 11-7 to win a third consecutive MHSAA championship. 

“This is very special because I’m a senior and a captain, and this was the final game of my high school career,” Hooker said. “A lot of people didn’t think I would make it back, but I was determined.”

Hooker suffered a torn labrum and underwent surgery in February, leading to months of physical therapy. Doctors told her she would not be able to play her senior year. 

“I was not planning on making it back, but physical therapy went so well that I knew I had a chance to make it back in time,” Hooker said. “I really wanted to make it back and play at least one game of my senior season.”

Hooker returned in time to help the Pioneers defeat Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood in the Wednesday Semifinal and then took the field against Okemos in a rematch of last season’s Semifinal and the 2012 Division 2 championship game. 

With the Final tied 6-6 midway through the second half, Hooker scored as part of a four-goal run that gave East Grand Rapids control up 10-6.

While many doubted Hooker’s ability to make it back from injury, many also doubted they would see the Pioneers in the Finals again after graduating 12 starters from last year’s team. 

“This one is very special because no one thought our team was this strong,” Hooker said. “It was real special to prove to everyone that we could do it again.”

Okemos suffered from the injury bug in the opening minutes Saturday. Sophomore standout Kendall Luberto suffered a severe ankle injury and was lost for the game. She entered the game as one of Okemos’ top offensive players with 48 goals and 30 assists this spring. 

“I think our girls played tough,” Okemos coach Donny Luberto said. “One of our starters went down in the first three minutes of the game, and that threw us out a bit. But the girls played tough. I knew they would keep fighting and keep playing tough.”

Okemos battled the entire 50 minutes while attempting to become the first Michigan high school team to defeat East Grand Rapids since 2010. Okemos scored the first two goals before the Pioneers came back to tie the match 2-2. 

Okemos again battled back and went up 4-2 before East Grand Rapids closed out the first half with four consecutive goals to take a 6-4 lead.

“They (Okemos) are a class program,” East Grand Rapids coach Rich Axtell said. “They have won two state titles, and we knew they would be tough." 

Senior Meggan Loyd scored three of East Grand Rapids’ first-half goals and led the Pioneers with four for the game. For Loyd, the title was the fourth MHSAA championship she has won at EGR as she had been on the previous two lacrosse title teams and also won one with the Pioneers volleyball team.

“I think this one means the most,” Loyd said. “Being a senior and people not expecting us to win it this year, it was also the toughest. We had to work harder to get this one. All of our playoff games were close. We beat Caledonia by one goal in the Regional and Cranbrook by two in the Semifinals.” 

Junior Liza Elder came into the game as the offensive leader of the Pioneers with 78 goals and 48 assists. She added three goals and will be one of the leaders next season as the Pioneers look to win a fourth straight championship.

“We had a very young team this year,” Elder said. “We knew we had to work extra hard to make it back. We started working out in the weight room back in September to get ready for this year, and we just kept going. We played some real tough games this year but nobody ever gave up.”

Click for a full box score. 

PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids and Okemos players contend for the ball during the MHSAA Division 2 Final at Rockford. (Middle) The Pioneers' Liza Elder works for position as she awaits a pass Saturday.

Representative Council Approves Limited Regional Seeding in Girls Lacrosse at Fall Meeting

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

December 9, 2022

The addition of limited seeding at the Regional level of the Girls Lacrosse Tournament headlined actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 2 in East Lansing.

Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only three actions, with additional discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter and the Council’s meetings in March and May.

The Council approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee proposal to seed the top two teams in every Regional, and place those top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket beginning with the 2023 season. The two teams to be seeded will be determined by using the MHSAA’s Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) formula, which takes into account success and strength of schedule and is used currently to provide seeding information in boys lacrosse, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys soccer, and ice hockey. Only the top two teams in girls lacrosse will be seeded and separated; the other teams in each Regional will be placed on their brackets by random draw.

The Council also approved a Boys Lacrosse Committee recommendation that will allow athletes to participate in up to five quarters per day between teams at multiple levels – for example, varsity and junior varsity – also beginning with the 2023 season. For boys lacrosse multi-team tournaments, if two school teams (for example, the varsity and junior varsity) are at the same event, athletes may play in no more halves or quarters than what is being played by the school’s highest-level team that day. (Example: if the varsity team is playing three 30-minute half games for a total of six halves, a player playing both varsity and JV on the same day can play in six total halves that day.) The “fifth quarter” rule, by allowing athletes to compete on two levels on the same day, is intended to help programs that are otherwise lacking enough participants to field teams at multiple levels.

Taking into account the wintery weather conditions experienced by athletes during the MHSAA alpine ski season, the Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to adopt the “MHSAA Competition and Practice Guidelines for Cold Weather,” which are specific to alpine skiing. The guidelines include a windchill chart and cold standards for ambient temperature. This proposal also was supported by the Ski Committee and will go into effect for the 2022-23 season.

Remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data including on questions related to the out-of-season travel rule. The Council also discussed results of a fall survey completed by member school athletic directors and head varsity football coaches concerning ongoing conversations about scheduling and playoff format. Following the Football Committee meeting in January 2023, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the MHSAA staff, Representative Council, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will be convened for further discussion on these topics, with their report to be provided to the Council during its March 2023 meeting.

The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy for a first-two-year term to the 19-person Council, and the re-appointment of Bay City Western principal Judy Cox for a second two-year term. Malloy previously was appointed to finish a partial term as one of the two representatives of member junior high/middle schools.

The Council reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson was elected Council vice president.

The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.