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.)
BOYNE FALLS — Pontiac Notre Dame Prep’s girl ski team has dominated the slopes since 2016 and continued the trend Monday at Boyne Mountain.
The Irish placed first at the Division 2 Finals with a team combined score of 61. Petoskey finished runner-up with just four skiers to collect a team score of 87, and Great North Alpine finished third.
Senior Syndey Schulte was Notre Dame Prep’s top placer, finishing runner-up in slalom (1:09.19), and she was followed in that event by senior Peyton Schindler in fourth and senior Claire Kirchner in seventh. Kirchner was fourth in the giant slalom, and Schulte was seventh as the Irish placed four among the top 13.
“We had a great bunch of girls that skied well,” Norte Dame coach Craig McLeod said. “These girls show up to training every day and pay attention to what we’ve asked them, and they do it.”
Schindler has racked up tons of medals during her time at NDP, having helped the Irish win Division 2 championships during her freshmen and sophomore years before they finished sixth a year ago.
“It’s nice to have new faces, and it’s cool to see all of our hard work come into culmination of this,” Schindler said.
McLeod couldn’t be more pleased with the way his team performed at its Regional and the Finals. As he talked about his team, he was emotional knowing what this win meant to the Irish.
“The girls have won everything they touched,” McLeod said. “I have an amazing group of senior girls, and I’m proud of all the things they have done.”
Petoskey senior Marley Spence swept the giant slalom (1:14.91) and slalom (1:06.78). Spence also won giant slalom and was second in slalom as a junior, and she became the 12th skier in Finals history to win girls giant slalom at least twice.
"I cried," Spence said when she found out she won. "I ran to my parents and shed a lot of tears.
"All the emotions come in here, and it's been building out for weeks, so I'm shocked but happy," she added.
Spence was one of the four skiers who helped her team to a podium finish. Before they found out they were runners-up, Spence didn't think they'd get a team win with just four skiers – but Petoskey defeated the odds.
Cadillac senior Georgette Sake finished seconds behind Spence in the giant slalom with a combined time of 1:15.65. Cadillac as a team finished third with multiple top-10 placers in giant slalom.
"I enjoyed my four years at Cadillac," Sake said. "I don't think of skiing as a sport. I think of it as a family. The ski community is so great and cool."
PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Marley Spence speeds through one of her runs on the way to winning both individual championships Monday. (Middle) Notre Dame Prep’s Sydney Schulte caps her career with two more top-10 Finals finishes. (Click for more later this week from Sports in Motion – Division 2.)