By Chris Dobrowolski
Special for Second Half
HARBOR SPRINGS — For the past three years, Harbor Springs has been trying to get back to the top of the mountain.
On Monday, the Rams reached the pinnacle.
Harbor Springs captured its first girls MHSAA skiing title since 2012, edging Petoskey by just 3.5 points (81.5-85) in a dramatic battle for the Division 2 crown at Nub's Nob. Elk Rapids/Traverse City St. Francis was third with 94 points.
The Rams outscored Petoskey by 14 points in the slalom and used that to carry them to the win, even after they finished third overall in the giant slalom to the Northmen and Elk Rapids/Traverse City St. Francis.
"I'm really excited for the girls," said Harbor Springs coach Jane Ramer. "They've worked so hard all season. We have a lot of seniors, and they needed to get a state championship. They fell short the last few years, so it's a real positive thing."
Harbor fell short of repeating in 2013 as Petoskey took top honors, then watched as Bloomfield Hills Marian won the championship last year and Houghton/Hancock took second.
This year was the Rams' shot at redemption.
"Yes, (it was redemption) because we're meeting the teams we have in the past that we've lost to," said Harbor Springs senior Tia Esposito. "Our team really came together.
"We won it freshman year, and to come back and have this experience again is really incredible. I think we all walked out here feeling good about the day because of how we've been training on these hills for four years."
Maddy Fuhrman led the Rams with a pair of 10th-place finishes. She had a time of 56.7 in giant slalom and 1:08.72 in slalom. Esposito took 13th in GS (56.85) and 12th in slalom (1:09.27). Marin Hoffman (17th, 56.7) and Sadie Cwikiel (19th, 57.81) rounded out Harbor Spring's GS counters, while Demi Trabucchi (13th, 1:09.37) and Alexa Wespiser (14th, 1:09.78) were third and fourth in slalom.
Ramer felt her team had a chance to capture the title, but she wasn't going into the day overconfident.
"It's ski racing so you never know what's going to happen," she said. "We knew we wanted to come in and get ahead in the slalom, so when we went into the afternoon we had a little comfort zone. That's what happened. As you can see, Petoskey beat us in the GS, but we beat them in the slalom. It was a good formula and it worked."
Houghton's Jenna Stein was the individual winner of the giant slalom, recording a time of 53.04. She edged Carlee McCardel of Elk Rapids/St. Francis, the two-time reigning champion in the event, who skied a time of 53.31. McCardel had the top time after the first run of GS, but Stein overtook her in the second run and ended up with the title.
In the girls slalom, Sydney Reynolds of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central was the champion in a time of 1:05.52.
PHOTOS: (Top) Members of Harbor Springs' girls ski team hold up their championship trophy Monday. (Middle) Houghton's Jenna Stein was the individual champion in the giant slalom. (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.)