Rangers Bring Rare Ski Title Downstate
March 13, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Since 1975, three schools south of “up north” had combined for five MHSAA girls skiing titles – and this was not the season for a fourth school to join that group.
Warm weather limited Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central – the fifth-place finisher in Division 2 in 2016 – to only half of its normal slate of practices this winter, and the Rangers didn’t race as a varsity team until the end of January.
But a month later, they stood together at Boyne Highlands with their first MHSAA Finals championship trophy, capping an undefeated season that had also included the program’s first Regional title two weeks before.
In what actually turned into a battle between downstate teams, Forest Hills Central – the Applebee’s Team of the Month for February – edged Pontiac Notre Dame Prep by 3.5 points in the Final.
“We had the team last year, but injuries took us out of it,” said longtime Rangers coach Alan Moore, who finished up his 26th season. “We had basically the same team as last year, a lot of firepower. We knew we had strong skiers, but ski racing is such a fickle sport because a whole bunch of things have to line up for (success) to happen.”
As Moore noted, a popular mantra for teams south of the traditional ski belt is that just making the MHSAA Finals signifies a successful season.
And that’s certainly true. In addition to this season and last, during this decade Forest Hills Central also made the Finals in 2014.
But there were expectations for more this winter. Senior Sydney Reynolds was back after winning the individual MHSAA slalom championship in 2015. She won the giant slalom at this year’s Finals and finished second in slalom. Her sophomore sister Kayley Reynolds returned to competition after tearing a knee ligament and missing all but the first few meets of 2015-16; she took fourth in the slalom and 10th in the giant slalom at these Finals. Senior Courtney McAlindon was third in the giant slalom to also play a major part in the final score.
While the Rangers’ time together during the week was limited by conditions they couldn’t control, those three skiers filled their weekends with up north racing as part of MHSAA-sanctioned Central United States Ski Association events, and teammate Katie Knister also traveled to the snow to put in extra training and stay sharp.
Forest Hills Central was in third place after the two slalom runs at Boyne Highlands. The Rangers didn’t finish first in the giant slalom, but their second place in those runs was enough to push the team into first in the final overall standings.
In addition to the Reynolds sisters, McAlindon and Knister, junior Anna Tomsheck and sophomore Grace Kline also skied the slalom and Tomsheck and sophomore Myah Leavenworth skied the giant slalom.
“Courtney’s first run in slalom was 30 points and her second run was top 10; after the first run we were in fifth place, down 25 points, but after the second run we were up to third place,” Moore said. “We went in at halftime down 20 points, and that was doable.
“We won by three points. We’re talking inches after eight runs of skiers, to win by (a combined) half a second.”
PHOTO: Forest Hills Central’s Katie Knister cuts past a gate during the Division 2 Finals at Boyne Highlands. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Past Teams of the Month, 2016-17
January: Powers North Central boys basketbal - Report
December: Dundee boys basketball - Report
November: Rockford girls swimming & diving - Report
October: Rochester girls golf - Report
September: Breckenridge football - Report
Notre Dame Prep Takes Back Team Title, Petoskey's Spence Sweeps Race Wins
By Jordan Puente
Special for MHSAA.com
February 28, 2023
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.)