By Chris Dobrowolski
Special for Second Half
BELLAIRE — Marquette and Traverse City Central’s girls ski teams have stood toe to toe in the biggest meets of the season.
Central may have edged Marquette by just three points in the Regional two weeks ago, but Marquette got payback at Monday’s MHSAA Division 1 Finals at Schuss Mountain, slipping past the Trojans 51-55 to win their fourth straight championship.
“Honestly, it came down to that very last run,” said Marquette girls ski coach Dan Menze. “I told the girls that they had to lay it all out. There was nothing else to do than go for it and they did, and they ended up moving up from where they were after the first run of GS and were able to squeak by. So it was awesome.”
Three of Marquette’s four counters improved their standing in the second run of the giant slalom, including Jacey Johnson, who had the fastest time in the second run to jump from sixth to second with a 49.49. The Redettes ended up with 27 points to Traverse City Central’s 29 in the giant slalom.
“We were kind of down in the dumps on our first run on GS,” said Johnson, who was also second in the slalom (1:03.94). “We were thinking maybe TC Central would take it, but then we really turned it on in the second run. I’m really happy we got to take it.”
Marquette held a 24-26 lead over the Trojans after the slalom, helped by the top two finishers in Ainsley Kirk and Johnson, both juniors. Kirk repeated as the girls slalom champion, finishing in 1:03.69.
“It was really an honor,” said Kirk, who added a fourth-place finish in giant slalom (49.82). “There’s so many great people out here. I’m thankful for Dan for coaching us all this year. It was a great time. I thought we did pretty well. We had some scares in there after the first GS run. We definitely picked it up for the second run.”
Natalie Robinia, the only senior among the four counters for Marquette, placed ninth in the slalom (1:07.89) and was 11th in the giant slalom (51.74). Ava Bernard chipped in with a 16th-place finish in the slalom (1:09.33) and an 18th in the giant slalom (53.44).
“We knew it was going to be really close,” said Menze. “I don’t know if I thought it was going to be as close as it was, but they skied phenomenal. (Traverse City Central) stacked pretty much all six of their skiers in the top 10 or 15 skiers. That’s incredible. We were lucky to come away with the victory today. I won’t lie. I think we skied really well. The girls did what they needed to do. Definitely some nerves early in the day, but I think that they skied well enough. Lot of hard work this year. It’s been a tough season this year with the weather. A lot of cancellations. They put in the time. They deserve it.”
Traverse City West’s Hannah Schramski finished as the giant slalom champion with a time of 49.27. Schramski, who was also fifth in the slalom (1:07.43), led West’s third-place finish overall with 87 points.
Traverse City Central had brilliant performances in both disciplines to put itself in position to steal the team championship from the Redettes. Emma Dutmers led four Trojans finishers in the top 11 of the slalom with a fourth-place time of 1:06.91. Sarah Beattie was sixth (1:07.61), Elle Craven took eighth (1:07.88) and Maddy Craven finished 11th (1:08.52).
Brynn Rowell had the best giant slalom finish for the Trojans, coming in sixth in 50.73. Maddy Cox added a seventh (50.92), Elle Craven was ninth (51.41) and Dutmers was 13th (51.92), but it just wasn’t enough to hold off the two-time reigning Division 1 champions, who had an inkling they would be holding the first-place trophy again after their strong finish to the second half of the day.
“I won the second run for GS and I was like, ‘OK, I think we’re OK now,’” said Johnson. “We’re really happy we won.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette junior Ainsley Kirk races to the title in the slalom during the Division 1 Finals at Schuss Mountain. (Middle) Traverse City Central's Sarah Beattie races the slalom. (Photos by Jake Atnip. For more from Monday's Finals, see Sports in Motion.)
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.