Stars Lead Redettes to 5th-Straight Finals Win

February 25, 2020

By James Cook
Special for Second Half

HARBOR SPRINGS — Marquette is chasing itself.

The Redettes' girls skiing team won its fifth straight Division 1 championship Monday at Boyne Highlands.

That leaves only one team ahead of the current Marquette squad — the 1999-2004 Redettes.

"I know a lot of teams don't really want us to win every year, and they don't like that we always take it," Marquette senior Jacey Johnson said, "but I'm just so happy that we are so good, and it's just really nice to see because we all work so hard."

Johnson claimed the slalom by over a second, finishing off a high school career that included earning all-state honors eight times.

Johnson finished in Michigan's top 10 in seven of eight Ski Finals races she's competed in. The eighth, which included a hike, still resulted in a 20th-place finish and second-team all-state honors two years ago.

Marquette's Ainsley Kirk extended her streak of winning an individual Finals title to three years, taking her first giant slalom championship after being crowned slalom champ the previous two seasons.

Kirk's first run was the best girls GS time of the day at 30:53. Forest Hills Northern-Eastern's Holly Grzelak, a cousin of Kirk's teammates Aaron and Anna Grzelak, finished second by 16 hundredths of a second, tied with Rochester Adams' Kaylee Richardson.

Marquette, which lost in its Regional to Traverse City Central, topped the Trojans this time around.

"It just shows how great Marquette is," said TC Central senior Elizabeth Saunders, who finished second behind Johnson in the slalom. "They're strong and deep, like we are, and next year they have to come out even harder. I won't be around next year, but those girls are going to be in good hands."

Central also topped Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern-Eastern in that Regional, but the Forest Hills squad also snuck ahead of the Trojans this time.

Marquette won with 67 points, 10 ahead of Forest Hills. TC Central was another five back, with Clarkston fourth at 114.

Marquette has lost to Central in Regionals each of the last two years, then came back to win the Finals championships.

"That seems to be the way the last few years," said TC Central sophomore Elle Craven, who placed seventh in slalom and sixth in giant slalom. "We want to break that pattern, though."

The rest of the slalom top 10 consisted of Forest Hills Northern-Eastern's Jenna Grzelak, Clarkston's Courtney Bayley, Northern-Eastern's Jaycee O'Neill, Anna Grzelak of Marquette, Craven, South Lyon's Kelsie O'Connor, Rochester Adams' Richardson and Milford's Maddie Melody.

In giant slalom, Jenna Grzelak took fourth, Johnson fifth, Craven sixth, Brighton's Maddie Carrico seventh, Traverse City West's Ava Warren eighth, O'Connor ninth and Anna Grzelak 10th.

"I'm just excited that the kids showed some grit today and stuck with it, because it wasn't an easy day," Marquette assistant coach Keenan Cooper said. "Look how long it was. It was hot out for skiing, which can take a lot out of you because that sun's beating down on you."

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PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette’s Jacey Johnson skis to Monday’s slalom title. (Middle) The Redettes celebrate their fifth-straight Finals championship. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)

Cadillac Girls Take Back Title, Petoskey's Spence Completes Legendary Career

By Jordan Puente
Special for MHSAA.com

February 27, 2024

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."

Cadillac celebrates its second Finals team championship over the last three seasons. 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."

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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.)