Slalom Strong Redettes Extend Title Run

February 26, 2018

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.

Click for full results.

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

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.)