By Scott Keyes
Special for Second Half
BELLAIRE – The Elk Rapids/Traverse City St. Francis girls ski team didn’t exactly anticipate winning the MHSAA Division 2 championship Monday at Schuss Mountain.
Maybe that’s an understatement.
"It was a complete shock," said Carlee McCardel, who helped the ER/SF team to victory. "(We had) no idea. My brother and a few of the siblings were (doing the math), but I said, 'Don't tell me, I want to be surprised.' With skiing you never know what could happen. The calculations can mess up. I wanted to wait until now. It makes it better."
The cooperative team also includes athletes from Central Lake and Grand Traverse Academy and scored 78 points to edge runner-up Houghton/Hancock (80), with Harbor Springs (88), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (181) and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central (187) rounding out the top five.
The Elk Rapids/St. Francis boys finished second only to six-time reigning champion Petoskey in their meet, making for a special day all around for the program.
"Seeing the girls win a title so close to home is definitely a great way to end the season," said ER/SF coach Ben Ferrism, who co-coaches the team with Doug White. "But to see the boys team finish second and the girls win a title is extremely gratifying. What a great way to end the season. This is a pretty special day for both squads.
"I think I might have slept two hours last night, because I didn't know what direction the weather was heading," Ferrism added. "Lucky for us, it got colder and our athletes adapted to the conditions."
Houghton/Hancock did sweep the individual championships. Jenna Stine won the slalom in 1:02.94, followed by teammate Allyson Fenton (1:04.61) and McCardel in third (1:05.01).
In the giant slalom, Fenton won in 53.10 seconds, followed by McCardel (53.54) and Forest Hills Central's Sydney Reynolds (54.67).
"To have our team finish second while winning the slalom and giant slalom is pretty impressive," Stein said. "I couldn't be happier for my team."
PHOTOS: (Top) The Elk Rapids/Traverse City St. Francis girls ski team celebrates the Division 2 championship Monday. (Middle) A competitor races downhill at Schuss Mountain. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
HARBOR SPRINGS — The Cadillac girls ski team knew it couldn’t sneak up on anyone at Monday’s Division 2 Final, and rose to the challenge.
Cadillac walked away from Nub's Nob Ski Area and Resort in Harbor Springs with its second championship in three years and fourth-straight top-three finish. The Vikings finished with a combined team score of 72. Harbor Springs finished runner-up with a combined team score of 91.
Mattawan and Paw Paw placed third (107), Bloomfield Hills Marian finished fourth (168) and Norway finished fifth (171).
"A couple of years ago, we snuck up and got a ski title, but this year, we had more of a target on our backs knowing we had a pretty good team to do something special," Cadillac head coach James Netzley said. "It was a little nervous feeling today because of the start."
Netzley said his skiers made it a goal to repeat what they did in 2022 after finishing third last year.
"We said last night that it was going to take a complete team effort if we wanted to do something special today," Netzley said. "That came true, and we relied on every kid on the team."
The Vikings started shaky at the slalom with a couple of falls, but in the end, several skiers pulled through. Senior Onalee Wallis led the Vikings with second-place finishes in the slalom and giant slalom. Wallis finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:12.63 and the giant slalom with a combined time of 51.67.
Wallis's teammate, senior Avery Meyer, finished third in the slalom with a combined time of 1:16.76. Great North Alpine's Grace Rowe finished fourth with a combined time of 1:17.46.
Rochester Adams' Katie Fodale finished third in the giant slalom (52.43), Meyer placed fourth (53.39), and Emma Borgula placed fifth in the giant slalom with a combined time of 53.97.
"They are pretty special kids," Netzley said about Meyer and Wallis. "Both have been first-team all-state for four years in a row, and gotten a top-10 finish since their freshmen year. Not many kids can do that by the time they come in as freshmen and cap off their senior year with outstanding performances."
Petoskey didn't have the outing it had hoped for, but senior Marley Spence stamped herself as one of the best high school athletes in the state after walking away with her fifth-straight D2 individual Finals medal after placing first in both the slalom and giant slalom. Spence finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:12.19 and giant slalom with a combined time of 51.17.
Northmen boys coach Ben Crockett, who leads the program alongside his sister and girls coach Jennifer Crockett, found no disagreement in naming Spence as one of the best individual athletes to come out of Petoskey, let alone the state.
"We've been trying to dig into the history books in Michigan, and she is definitely at the top of her group historically of anybody who has competed in a sport," Ben Crockett said. "She is the best in Michigan, and there is no question about it."
PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Marley Spence races past a gate during the Division 2 giant slalom Monday. (Middle) Cadillac celebrates its second Finals team championship over the last three seasons. (Photos by Sarah Shepherd. Click for all photos; more will be added throughout this week.)