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.)
BELLAIRE – Katie Fodale aims for three next year. Anna Grzelak got her first in her last chance.
Fodale, the Rochester Adams junior star, won the Division 1 girls slalom championship for the second-straight season Monday at Schuss Mountain in Bellaire.
Grzelak capped off her standout Marquette career with her first Finals championship after multiple all-state performances.
“I'd say it was pretty different last year,” Fodale said. “It was kind of unexpected and I was super happy to win, obviously, but I didn't know that I could do it. This year coming back, I knew I had done it last year. I felt the pressure from myself to try and win again. I knew I could do it, but I also knew that there was a lot of other girls that could beat me, too.”
She led by 12 hundredths of a second after the first run, but extended that to 0.89 following the second, posting the best time with each.
“When I was skiing it, I could feel I was getting a lot of speed and doing really well,” said Fodale, who also took fifth in giant slalom. “I was just full speed ahead. Then once I was on the last three gates, I was like, 'OK, I think I got it.' And then I finished through and I was like, 'Yeah, that was a great run.'”
Fodale said she was happy with the team's fifth-place finish, especially since the Schuss Mountain slopes are far bigger than their home hill. Adams arrived early and trained for three days on the Kingdom Come and Goosebumps courses they'd compete on Monday.
“It was really good because a lot of our team was intimidated coming up here,” she said. “Our hill is very flat, and obviously this hill is super steep. But we came up to the challenge, and I think we did a great job.”
Marquette won the team title Grzelak's freshman year. Ever since, a Traverse City team has won the overall crown.
“It took a lot of training, and a lot of people helped me out and support me,” Grzelak said. “I think that was really nice.”
Traverse City West emerged from a tiebreaker with the girls title, as both West and TC Central ended with 69.5 points. The Titans won the tiebreaker with 30 points to 38 for Central, counting the fifth skier in both disciplines (Dillyn Mohr and Avery Plummer for West).
"Our team goes really deep, all the way to six," West coach Ed Johnson said. "So many teams fall off after three or four."
Johnson said it's the first time he saw the tiebreaker system used to decide the Finals champion.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, which won the Regional over both West and Central, finished third with 100 points, 30.5 back. The rest of the top nine were Clarkston (109), Rochester Adams (201), Bloomfield Hills (212), Brighton (242), Milford (246.5) and Farmington Hills Mercy (298).
West’s boys also won, completing a Finals sweep for the school.
"It's so cool," West junior Charlie Schulz said of winning both team titles. "It's never happened in our school history. It's so cool. I'm super proud of our team, and we've been working hard for it. I was pretty confident in us, but there's definitely some good competition here today."
Schulz said this year's outcome makes next year's goal obvious.
"I'm hoping to do it again," Schulz said. "We aren't losing anybody, at least for the girls side. So I'm hoping we can even be even better next year."
Grzelak, with two cousins also competing in the Division 1 Finals for Forest Hills Northern/Eastern, took third in slalom to earn dual first-team all-state honors.
“We got that family competition going on every time, so I think it's fun,” Grzelak said of her cousins. Katie Grzelak took third in slalom and Holly Grzelak fourth. Holly took third in GS.
“I'm glad I was able to get it in my last try,” Anna Grzelak said. “It's a good way to end off my high school career.”
Anna Grzelak tied Traverse City Central freshman Quinn Gerber for the GS championship, with both posting a combined time of 53.39 seconds.
"I did not expect it at all," Gerber said. "I was hoping to top-10 in both. My GS has been stronger this year, so I was hoping to do even better in that. I was hoping for top five in GS, so I was not really expecting this."
Gerber's first run was the fastest. Grzelak posted the best second run to put the two in a tie for combined time. They were both named GS champions.
“I was going all or falls on that one,” Grzelak said. “So I think I just had enough in me, and I was able to push through. I saw Quinn at the bottom, and we were celebrating.”
Gerber came out of the second flight to share the GS title.
"I was so happy to see Quinn ski so well today," TC Central head coach Amy Kudary said. "A state championship as a freshman is a pretty big deal. We are very young on both teams, so now I’m more excited than ever to see what we can do in the next couple of years."
Gerber said winning a championship as a freshman lifts her expectations for the future.
"I would hope for the same thing in the future, but the competition is so hard," Gerber said. "Especially tying like that. Any day, people ski differently."
The top 10 in giant slalom – who all earn first-team all-state honors – were Gerber, Anna Grzelak, Holly Grzelak, TC Central's Kellan Kudary, Fodale, FHNE's Jaycee O'Neill, TC West's Lila Warren, TC Central's Erinn Hale, Schulz and TC Central's Pearl Hale.
The top 10 in GS were Fodale, Katie Grzelak, Anna Grzelak, Holly Grzelak, TC West's Avery Plummer and Olivia Bageris, Gerber, Clarkston's Sydney Thomas, O'Neill and TC West's Ellie Gruber.
PHOTOS (Top) Rochester Adams' Katie Fodale speeds through a run Monday at Schuss Mountain. (Middle) Traverse City West's Quinn Gerber races amid some flurries. (Click for more from Sports in Motion - Division 1.)