By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half
BOYNE FALLS – The Marquette girls ski team looks as if it is about to produce another dynasty like it did during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Marquette won six MHSAA Finals titles from 1999-2004, and it is halfway to matching that total after winning its third straight Division 1 championship Monday at Boyne Mountain.
The Redettes finished first with 48 points, ahead of the 76 produced by second-place Traverse City West. Traverse City Central was third at 109, Milford fourth at 160 and Clarkston finished fifth with a final total of 172.
Leading the way for Marquette was sophomore Ainsley Kirk, who didn’t arrive at Boyne Mountain until Sunday night because she was home attempting to qualify for a USSA meet next weekend in Colorado, which she did successfully.
Kirk won the slalom with a time of 1:07.81 and took third in the giant slalom with a time of 1:09.53.
The fact that Kirk was able to finish was an accomplishment, given numerous top skiers fell on the first run of the slalom due to the slushy conditions on what was an unusually sunny and mild day for a Finals event, with temperatures in the low to mid 40s for most of the meet.
“It’s not my favorite,” Kirk said of the soft conditions. “The first run was still actually pretty firm because it was in the shade. In my second run, I had to make some line adjustments because of how soft it was.”
Kirk’s teammate Sadah Scheidt was second in slalom with a time of 1:09.25, Emma Dutmers of Traverse City Central was third at 1:10.30, Hannah Schramski of Traverse City West finished fourth at 1:11.10 and Elle Warren of Traverse City West was fifth with a time of 1:12.84.
“The girls got second at Regionals, and the girls had a rough day in the (giant slalom),” Marquette coach Dan Menze said. “We came into the GS and we skied much better and towards where we thought we should ski. We knew coming into the slalom that we were lucky to have talented skiers in that event.”
Skiers from lower Michigan dominated the top eight in the giant slalom, with six hailing from Oakland County.
Olivia Weymouth of Bloomfield Hills Marian highlighted that group, winning the individual title with a time of 1:08.11.
“With GS, I find it more fun I guess,” said Weymouth, who also skis the slalom but didn’t finish her first race in that event. “I put in a lot of work and dedication, and it was cool to see it show through with the GS title.”
Kate Bridges of Birmingham United was second at 1:08.40, Kaylee Richardson of Rochester Adams was fourth at 1:09.45, Grace Stetsko was fifth with a time of 1:09.53, Morgan Watts of Milford was sixth at 1:09.67 and Grace Dillon of Bloomfield Hills was eighth with a time of 1:10.45.
PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette's Ainsley Kirk races on her way to a first-place finish in the slalom. (Middle) Marian's Olivia Weymouth clears a gate during her a giant slalom run. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
HARBOR SPRINGS — The Cadillac girls ski team knew it couldn’t sneak up on anyone at Monday’s Division 2 Final, and rose to the challenge.
Cadillac walked away from Nub's Nob Ski Area and Resort in Harbor Springs with its second championship in three years and fourth-straight top-three finish. The Vikings finished with a combined team score of 72. Harbor Springs finished runner-up with a combined team score of 91.
Mattawan and Paw Paw placed third (107), Bloomfield Hills Marian finished fourth (168) and Norway finished fifth (171).
"A couple of years ago, we snuck up and got a ski title, but this year, we had more of a target on our backs knowing we had a pretty good team to do something special," Cadillac head coach James Netzley said. "It was a little nervous feeling today because of the start."
Netzley said his skiers made it a goal to repeat what they did in 2022 after finishing third last year.
"We said last night that it was going to take a complete team effort if we wanted to do something special today," Netzley said. "That came true, and we relied on every kid on the team."
The Vikings started shaky at the slalom with a couple of falls, but in the end, several skiers pulled through. Senior Onalee Wallis led the Vikings with second-place finishes in the slalom and giant slalom. Wallis finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:12.63 and the giant slalom with a combined time of 51.67.
Wallis's teammate, senior Avery Meyer, finished third in the slalom with a combined time of 1:16.76. Great North Alpine's Grace Rowe finished fourth with a combined time of 1:17.46.
Rochester Adams' Katie Fodale finished third in the giant slalom (52.43), Meyer placed fourth (53.39), and Emma Borgula placed fifth in the giant slalom with a combined time of 53.97.
"They are pretty special kids," Netzley said about Meyer and Wallis. "Both have been first-team all-state for four years in a row, and gotten a top-10 finish since their freshmen year. Not many kids can do that by the time they come in as freshmen and cap off their senior year with outstanding performances."
Petoskey didn't have the outing it had hoped for, but senior Marley Spence stamped herself as one of the best high school athletes in the state after walking away with her fifth-straight D2 individual Finals medal after placing first in both the slalom and giant slalom. Spence finished the slalom with a combined time of 1:12.19 and giant slalom with a combined time of 51.17.
Northmen boys coach Ben Crockett, who leads the program alongside his sister and girls coach Jennifer Crockett, found no disagreement in naming Spence as one of the best individual athletes to come out of Petoskey, let alone the state.
"We've been trying to dig into the history books in Michigan, and she is definitely at the top of her group historically of anybody who has competed in a sport," Ben Crockett said. "She is the best in Michigan, and there is no question about it."
PHOTOS (Top) Petoskey’s Marley Spence races past a gate during the Division 2 giant slalom Monday. (Middle) Cadillac celebrates its second Finals team championship over the last three seasons. (Photos by Sarah Shepherd. Click for all photos; more will be added throughout this week.)