By Andy Sneddon
Special to Second Half
HARBOR SPRINGS – Familiarity breeds contempt.
Rob Rhoades and his Bloomfield Hills Marian ski team made several trips north this season to familiarize themselves with the steep and tricky terrain at Nub’s Nob.
Those journeys paid off, again, on Monday as the Mustangs won the MHSAA Division 2 Girls Skiing Final, edging runner-up Houghton-Hancock, 74-81.
“This year we really committed a lot of extra training on the weekends,” Rhoades said. “We came up here and trained often – hard, long weekends, cold weekends. This was probably the busiest season I’ve had coming Up North.”
It was the third title in five years for Marian, which began its regimen of regular yearly training visits north during the mid 2000s. The Mustangs won their first MHSAA ski title in 2010 and repeated in 2011.
Coincidence? Not at all.
“The extra training and coming up on the weekends, that’s the big thing,” said Rhoades, who completed his 25th year as Marian’s coach. “It makes a big difference. The mechanics of skiing on a hill like this versus downstate at Alpine Valley (near Milford) is totally different. There’s a lot of G forces on the back and a lot more pressure on the ski (at Nub’s). You have to be a stronger skier too."
Petoskey senior Mia Ciccoretti was the individual slalom champion, while sophomore Carlee McCardel of Traverse City St. Francis-Elk Rapids repeated as the giant slalom winner.
Marian was led by Kat Streng and Breann Lunghamer. Streng finished eighth in the GS and 14th in the slalom; Lunghamer was third in slalom, 12th in GS. Teammate Paige Weymouth was 11th in GS.
McCardel edged Mallory Eliopolous of Grand Rapids West Catholic to earn a repeat as the GS champion.
McCardel, a student at St. Francis, said one of the biggest challenges she faced came earlier in the season, when the weight of carrying an MHSAA championship began to mount.
“I (felt the pressure) at the beginning of the season, but then my coach kind of sat me down and was like, ‘You’re not defending a state championship, you’re pursuing another one,’” she said. “It helped me just kinda calm down.”
She also drew on something she picked up from Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio.
“Mark Dantonio (said) pressure is good, stress is not,” she said. “So I had to look at it more as that pressure is good and not get stressed out. I looked at it that way, and it made me work harder.”
Ciccoretti closed a standout career on top after finishing second a year ago to Mandy Haferkorn of Kingsley in the slalom final. Haferkorn placed fourth on Monday.
“I watched video from last year, and I was like, ‘Why did she beat me?’” said Ciccoretti, who finished fourth in the GS on Monday. “I figured out how to go faster, and it worked. I just trained a lot.”
Much of that training came at Nub’s, site of Petoskey practices and most home meets. Still, it’s a hill on which Ciccoretti said she isn’t all that comfortable.
“We do train here every day,” she said. “But I’ve had some bad experiences on this hill. I’ve fallen a couple times. It was good to get back from all of those.
“The key was really to just stay calm, don’t really let the nerves get to me. Just go out there and know my capabilities and just go from there, just have fun with it rather than think about what could go wrong or what could happen. Just do it, like I do every day.”
Sydney Reynolds of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central finished second to Ciccoretti in the slalom.
Eliopolous, Reynolds, Tia Esposito of Harbor Springs and Nora Reed of Spring Lake joined Ciccoretti as double medalists.
PHOTO: Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood's Julia Briggs puts the brakes on one of her runs during Monday's MHSAA Final.
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.