By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
There are communities all over Michigan known for nurturing their athletes from the youngest levels through high school – football towns, basketball towns, volleyball towns, etc.
Marquette is a skiing town, with a decades-old infrastructure that would seem to guarantee no slowing down for the Marquette High boys team that has won six straight Division 1 championships and the girls team that last month clinched its third consecutive title.
Marquette’s boys and girls ski teams are the MHSAA/Applebee’s Teams of the Month for February after continuing those impressive streaks.
In Marquette, skiers who fill the high school teams came up on the local Marquette Mountain Race Team and Great Lakes Ski Academy. And every once in a while there’s an athlete with especially high aspirations who chooses to continue competing solely outside the high school.
But second-year coach Dan Menze – who has coached in both non-school programs and skied for the Redmen through graduation in 2009 – said over the last two seasons every student who ski races has raced with his high school teams.
“The amount of skiing that’s available to these kids to make them better athletes and come to high school as already accomplished skiers – this wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have the programs that do bring those kids up,” Menze said.
“They teach skiing the right way. When they come to the high school, (athletes) already have a good foundation and good base. It’s just taking them to the next level for me, which I don’t usually have a ton of kids that I have to bring up to that level.”
The boys team won its title Feb. 26 at Boyne Mountain with 56 points, as Traverse City Central came in second for the fifth straight season this time with 80.5. The Redettes scored 48 points to finish ahead of Traverse City West’s 76.
Sophomore Ainsley Kirk and senior Sadah Scheidt took first and second in the girls slalom, and junior teammate Natalie Robinia was sixth. Kirk was then third in the giant slalom, and sophomore Jacey Johnson was seventh.
On the boys side, sophomore Aaron Grzelak, senior Andrew Thomas and freshman Haydn Kauppila took the first three places, respectively, in the slalom. They then finished second, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the giant slalom.
If the feeder programs are the key, Marquette Mountain’s participation is nearly as important. Menze said the hill “bends over backwards” to make it easier for the Redmen and Redettes to get in their training runs – and with the ability to set up courses comparable to any of the terrain the teams might see elsewhere.
Marquette High, the largest school in the Upper Peninsula, dominates in a number of sports throughout the school year. But also making the ski teams’ accomplishments impressive is the competition – skiing and hockey are two sports where Marquette regularly sees and succeeds against teams from both the Upper Peninsula and downstate.
The boys team has won 13 MHSAA Finals titles, dating to its first in 1997. The girls have won 11 going back to 1999.
“There’s not really a lot of other teams at the high school that get to compete with a lot of these teams from downstate,” Menze said. “It is nice to go down there; we’re in our element.
“The last 30 years we’ve been fairly consistent and competitive, and it’s awesome to bring that back to the school.”
Past Teams of the Month, 2017-18
January: Sterling Heights Stevenson competitive cheer - Report
December: Cadillac boys bowling - Report
November: Ottawa Lake Whiteford football - Report
October: Beaverton volleyball - Report
September: Shepherd girls golf - Report
PHOTO: Marquette’s girls and boys ski teams hold up their latest MHSAA championship trophies last month at Boyne Mountain. (Photo by Keith Dunlap.)
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.