Petoskey Climbs to D2 Championship

By John Vrancic
Special for

February 26, 2013

MARQUETTE — There is plenty of opportunity for high school skiers to sharpen their skills in Emmet County with such facilities as Nub’s Nob and Boyne Mountain nearby.

It appears the Petoskey and Harbor Springs girls are taking advantage as they occupied the top two spots for the third straight year in Monday’s MHSAA Division 2 Final.

Petoskey regained the title with 65 points, followed by defending champion Harbor Springs with 91.5 and Bloomfield Hills Andover with 99.

“We put on great programs in the Emmet County area,” Petoskey coach Travis Hill said. “Harbor has been our competition for years, which keeps us focused. They edged us for the title last year, but today it came out in our favor. This was a great way for us to end the year.”

Petoskey was led by junior Mia Cicorretti, who placed second in slalom in one minute, 25.39 seconds and took sixth in giant slalom (1:04.19) at Marquette Mountain.

“I think being able to take runner-up in slalom is really cool,” Cicorretti said. “Being second out of the gate also helped. I was able to get out on the course before it got chewed up. I think our team did real well. We’ve been skiing with the Harbor Springs girls since we’ve been little. It’s kind of cool to know your competition as well as we do.”

Senior Abigail Hackman paced Harbor Springs by taking second in giant slalom (1:03.67) and third in slalom (1:26.17).

“I’m excited about where I finished,” said Hackman, who plans to attend college in New Hampshire or Vermont where she hopes to ski and play soccer. “I thought my first run in slalom (42.03) was real good. Although I like giant slalom better because of the steeper terrain. We have a lot of hills in our area that are similar to this and real good coaches who take us to harder courses, both of which I think really helped us today.”

Hackman’s career appeared to be in jeopardy a year ago after she suffered a knee injury a week before the Finals.

“I thought it was over at that point,” she said. “I’m just glad to still have a chance to ski. I wish our team would have done a little better, although we still had fun. Just being with this team is fantastic.”

Kingsford junior Mandy Haferkorn became the Upper Peninsula’s lone champion Monday, taking slalom in 1:24.2. In giant slalom, she was 11th (1:04.87).

“I really went for it (in slalom),” said Haferkorn, who won eight races this season. “I told myself this was my last chance (this season) to show I could do it. I didn’t have a good Regional in giant slalom and started further back in the pack. During the first run there were a lot of holes in the snow. Plus, it was real soft snow.

“Race after race, it gets more ruts which makes it kind of hard to adjust. You just have to focus on the race ahead of you. Otherwise, this was a real good year. Winning slalom was a great way to top it off.”

Traverse City St. Francis freshman Carlee McCardel, part of the Elks Rapids/St. Francis co-op team, was crowned giant slalom champion in 1:02.24. She cruised through the first run in 30.33, followed by a 31.91.

“Our coach always tells us to have clean turns,” McCardel said. “You don’t really want to hit the flags. If you do, they can slow you down. Although, they don’t most of the time. The first run gave me a pretty strong lead, but I still had to go for it. Yet, you don’t want to push in to the point where you fall. You have to find a happy medium.”

McCardel says she enjoys the co-op arrangement with Elk Rapids.

“This has been a great season for our team,” she added. “This is also a great co-op. The girls and boys have meshed real well. I’ve had great support from my family and teammates. We also have great coaches who helped me a lot.”

Andover’s leader was Jean Klochko-Bull, who was third in giant slalom (1:03.79) and fifth in slalom (1:27.39).

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PHOTO: The Petoskey girls ski team poses with its MHSAA championship trophy. (Photo courtesy of Petoskey skiing program.

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.)