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."
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.)
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.