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.
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 HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
The addition of two games to basketball regular-season schedules and a new series of wrestling weight classes are likely the most noticeable Winter 2022-23 changes as an estimated 65,000 athletes statewide take part in 13 sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments.
Girls gymnastics and boys ice hockey teams were able to begin practice Oct. 31, with the rest of those sports beginning in November – including also girls and boys basketball, girls and boys bowling, girls competitive cheer, girls and boys skiing, Upper Peninsula girls and boys and Lower Peninsula boys swimming & diving, and girls and boys wrestling.
A variety of changes are in effect for winter sports this season, including a several that will be noteworthy and noticeable to teams and spectators alike.
Basketball remains the most-participated winter sport for MHSAA member schools with 33,000 athletes taking part last season, and for the first time, basketball teams may play up to 22 regular-season games. This increase from the previous 20-game schedule allows more games for teams at every high school level – varsity, junior varsity and freshman.
Another significant change has been made in wrestling, as the majority of boys wrestling weight classes have been adjusted for this season in anticipation of a national change coming in 2023-24. The updated boys weight classes are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215 and 285 pounds. Only 215 and 285 remain from the previous lineup. There is also one change to girls weight classes, with the 255 class replaced by 235 to also align with national high school standards.
A series of notable changes will affect how competition takes place at the MHSAA Tournament levels. In hockey, in addition to a new classification process that spread cooperative and single-school programs evenly throughout the three playoff divisions, the MHSAA Tournament will employ two changes. The Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) will be used to seed the entire Regional round, not just the top two teams, and prior to the start of Semifinals, a seeding committee will reseed the remaining four teams in each division with the top seed in each then facing the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed facing No. 3.
Bowling also will see an MHSAA Tournament change, as the Team Regional format will mirror the long-standing Team Final with teams playing eight Baker games and two regular games at both levels. And as also applied during the fall girls season, there is a new qualification process for divers seeking to advance to Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals. In each of the three divisions, each Regional will be guaranteed 10 qualifiers for the Finals, with six more “floating” qualifier entries to be distributed to the Regionals that have one of the previous year’s top six returning Finals divers in their fields. If a team changes division from the previous season, any floating top-six spots are added to the six already allowed in the school’s new division.
A gymnastics rules change provides an opportunity for additional scoring during the floor exercise. A dance passage requirement was added in place of the former dance series requirement to encourage creativity and a more artistic use of dance. The dance passage requires gymnasts to include two Group 1 elements – one a leap with legs in cross or side split position, the other a superior element.
In competitive cheer, the penalty for going over the time limit in each round was adjusted to one penalty point for every second over the time limit, not to exceed 15 points. The new time limit rule is more lenient than the past penalty, which subtracted points based on ranges of time over the limit.
The 2022-23 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 18 and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 25. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:
Districts – March 6, 8, 10
Regionals – March 13, 15
Quarterfinals – March 21
Semifinals – March 23-24
Finals – March 25
Districts – Feb. 27, March 1, 3
Regionals – March 7, 9
Quarterfinals – March 14
Semifinals – March 16-17
Finals – March 18
Regionals – Feb. 24-25
Finals – March 3-4
District – Feb. 17-18
Regionals – Feb. 25
Finals – March 2-3
Regionals – March 4
Finals – March 10-11
Regionals – Feb. 20-March 1
Quarterfinals – March 4
Semifinals – March 9-10
Finals – March 11
Regionals – Feb. 13-17
Finals – Feb. 27
Swimming & Diving
Upper Peninsula Girls/Boys Finals – Feb. 18
Lower Peninsula Boys Diving Regionals – March 2
Lower Peninsula Boys Finals – March 10-11
Wrestling – Team
Districts – Feb. 8-9
Regionals – Feb. 15
Finals – Feb. 24-25
Wrestling – Individual
Districts – Feb. 11
Regionals – Feb. 18
Finals – March 3-4
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.