Forest Hills Central Girls Win 1st Ski Title

February 27, 2017

By Brett A. Sommers
Special for Second Half

HARBOR SPRINGS — Just two weeks ago, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central’s girls won their first Regional skiing championship in school history. 

Now they have an MHSAA Finals championship trophy to place along side it, continuing a string of firsts.

The Rangers placed three skiers in the top 10 of the giant slalom and two in the slalom to edge Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 105-108.5 at Boyne Highlands Resort on Monday. 

Sydney Reynolds added some personal hardware as well by winning the giant slalom — two years after winning a slalom title — with a time of 1:00.73.

“We won Regionals, and that is the first time it’s happened in the history of FHC,” Reynolds said. “Coming in we knew we had a good shot, so we just tried to finish. We came out on top, and it was amazing.” 

Reynolds said taking the team trophy on the podium from head coach Alan Moore was unlike anything the senior had ever experienced.

“Being a senior, knowing we went off on that is amazing,” she said. “Hopefully they are able to do it again next year. They have a good chance, and knowing they can do it will make it even better.” 

Moore has been coaching the Rangers for 26 years and said his athletes have kept him going for so long. Now he’ll have a championship to defend, too.

Forest Hills Central sat third after the morning’s slalom runs, trailing Notre Dame Prep and Houghton. 

“We were still in the hunt. One skier fell and cost a few points,” Moore said. “We were (third) place, but not too far out of it. It was a pretty tight race, and we have pretty strong GS skiers. We held on for dear life, and it worked out.”

Rangers teammates Courtney McAlindon (1:01.51) finished third and Kayley Reynolds (1:02.86) 10th in the GS to help lead the comeback. 

Sandwiched between the top two Forest Hills Central skiers was Houghton’s Jill Stein, who won the individual slalom championship, eclipsing long-time friend Reynolds by fewer than four-tenths of a second.

“I was super surprised,” Stein said. “Usually she’d be first in slalom and I’d be first in GS. Today I guess it flip-flopped.”

Monday marked the fourth season Stein has competed at the MHSAA Finals, but it was the first time she has completed all four runs without a fall. 

Harbor Springs’ Maddy Fuhrman (1:01.54) was fourth in the GS, Notre Dame Prep’s Sydney Lintol fifth (1:01.79) and Gaylord’s Reagan Olli (1:01.80) sixth. Harbor Springs’ France Kelbel (1:02.55) was seventh, Cranbrook Kingswood’s Grace Krsul (1:02.70) eighth and Cadillac’s Emma Lloyd (1:02.80) ninth.

Notre Dame Prep hadn’t scored more than 17 points all season and won every meet leading into Monday. 

“Really proud. Really proud,” Notre Dame Prep coach John Deibel said of his team. “They earned the right to be here. We were a pretty good team.”

Deibel had one of his top skiers post a DNF in each discipline, but the team was able to pull together for a runner-up finish anyway. 

“It’s amazing. We’re such a close-knit team,” Deibel said. “Our girls come together. Our girls hug each, maybe they cry a little bit and get over (a fall) really quick.

“We expect to lose a skier. That’s the way we play our game.” 

Lintol was Notre Dame Prep’s top finisher on the day, but Deibel said the Fighting Irish have a number of leaders, including some who will return next season looking to keep the program among Michigan’s best.

“I have four or five other kids on the team that are absolutely as good as Lintol is, and I fully expect they all will be competing next year for these same trophies.” 

“We feel blessed to come here and work hard,” Lintol said. “We put all these hours in and all the seasons we’ve had as a group. We’ve grown up together. To see everybody improve and get to this point, and see not only team growth but self growth, is really exciting.”

Harbor Springs (120) finished third, Houghton fourth (147) and Great North Alpine fifth (153). Cranbrook Kingswood (167.5) was sixth, Spring Lake (186) seventh, Cadillac (207) eighth and Mount Pleasant (230) ninth. 

Stein won the slalom in 1:03.19, and Reynolds was second in 1:03.26. Harbor Springs’ Furhman (1:03.98) was third in the slalom, Kayley Reynolds (1:04.16) fourth, Houghton’s Ally Fenton (1:04.44) fifth and Olli sixth (1:05.42). Milford’s Morgan Watts (1:06.35) was seventh, Lintol (1:06.58) eighth, Spring Lake’s Hannah Klein (1:07.35) ninth and Houghton’s Katherine Jarvis (1:07.36) 10th.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Forest Hills Central’s Courtney McAlindon races Monday in helping her school to its first MHSAA team title. (Middle) A competitor at Boyne Highlands speeds past a gate. (Click for more from

Petoskey's Spence Caps Ski Career Among State's All-Time Racing Greats

By Tom Spencer
Special for

March 6, 2024

Let’s be clear. Marley Spence is the most decorated racer in Petoskey High School girls skiing history.

Northern Lower PeninsulaBut her favorite memory from the sport is not winning one of her five MHSAA Finals individual championships.

It is helping the Northmen earn Division 2 runners-up honor her junior year when Petoskey had just the minimum – four skiers — in the competition won by Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

Spence has to admit the odds were stacked against the Northman that day on Boyne Mountain And to top it off, it is a memory that is connected to her middle school days with senior classmate and all-stater Sydney Hoffman.

“It was me and Sydney and two other seniors, and that was our entire team,” Spence recalled this week. “We had to do everything right to place second, and we did that that day and we were super thrilled. That was the highlight of my career.”

Quite a statement for the perennial Big North, Regional and Finals champion in the slalom and giant slalom. She has been a top-10 finisher at the Finals going back to her freshman year.  

“Marley has sort of come along in an era when we have not had as many female athletes in the program,” said Ben Crockett, who with sister Jennifer Crockett coaches the Petoskey ski teams. “She should be proud of the fact that a pretty small team was able to have collective success at the state meet.”

All of the time spent on those powdery white hills since the age of 2 has certainly paid off.

She was the runner-up in slalom and 10th in giant slalom as a freshman. As a sophomore, her accomplishments ranged from Big North Conference and Regional titles in both the slalom and giant slalom to a Finals championship in the GS. She also captured runner-up in the slalom race to finish that winter.

As a junior, she won both the giant slalom and slalom at the Finals while leading Petoskey to the second-place team finish.

And this year, she did it again. Petoskey did not qualify as a team, but she and Hoffman did. Spence and Hoffman have been teammates since middle school, and they both picked up all-state honors this year. Hoffman placed in the top 10 of both the slalom and giant slalom Feb. 26 at Nub’s Nob.

“It helps to train with my teammate because we’re all on one team and we compete against each other and (are) pushing each other,” Spence said. “We watch each other and can all learn from our mistakes and watch we do well.”

This year, Spence put together a time of 51.17 in the giant slalom, then 1:12.19 in the slalom, holding off some tough competition from Cadillac's Onalee Wallace in both races. 

Spence’s performance at Nub’s Nob allowed her to tie Eric Behan for the most titles by a Petoskey skier and set the girls record at the school. Behan collected his fifth in 2005.

Spencer stands atop the medal stand after sweeping the slalom and giant slalom this season.Spence also tied the MHSAA record for career Finals titles in Division 2, Class B or the previous open class, matching the mark of Christy Salonen of West Iron County from 1993-96. 

"From her freshman year on the team, Marley has been serious and committed to high school competition. At times, she has dominated high school racing, yet she is always respectful of her competitors. I’m very proud of her for exhibiting that character trait," said Jennifer Crockett, who similarly graduated from Petoskey in 1995 as one of the program's most accomplished skiers. "This season she had teammates who were not as experienced as Marley, and she really stepped up and took on a leadership role, helping them with course inspections and race day timeline management."

Spence had the luxury, and challenge, throughout her career of skiing against what many would consider the toughest high school competition in Michigan with Petoskey part of the BNC.

This year, Traverse City West’s girls repeated as Division 1 champions. Cadillac won the Division 2 girls team title for the second time in three seasons.

Spence intends to compete this spring in sprints for the Petoskey track team. She is thinking of attending Montana State University next fall and ski for the Bobcats. 

Recently labeled one of the best places for college skiers by POWDER magazine, MSU is recognized nationally and internationally for its snow science research.

“I might be going out to Montana State, and if I do then I’ll definitely ski,” she said. “It is very hard to ski in college – more than any other sport – because they bring in all the Europeans and they take the spots, but I am going to strive for that.”

As she wraps up her high school career, Spence reflected on the challenges of being a high school skier and noted slalom is her favorite race.

“I would say slalom because it is high tempo, and you have to think more about it,” she said. “It is more strategic.

“Sometimes it is hard to stay focused when you have so much going on with friends and other things like parents there, coaches there,” she continued. “Trying to keep a routine every race is what has helped me succeed.”

Part of that routine, as Jennifer Crockett noted, is inspecting the course as a team – something Spence will miss as it allowed her to mentor her younger teammates. But her impact on Petoskey's program, and high school skiing statewide, will not be forgotten.

“Marley has five individual state championships and there are only two other individuals in the history of skiing in Michigan to make that accomplishment,” Ben Crockett said. “Any review of the history would have to include her as one of the best to ever ski at the high school level.”

Tom SpencerTom 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 (Top) Petoskey's Marley Spence skis a slalom run during the Feb. 26 Division 2 Finals at Nub's Nob. (Middle) Spence stands atop the medal stand after sweeping the slalom and giant slalom this season. (Photo by Sarah Shepherd.)