HARBOR SPRINGS — Sarah Beattie's senior sendoff had style.
The only senior on Traverse City Central’s girls skiing roster helped the Trojans claim their first Division 1 championship in eight years Monday.
"We will miss her a lot," said junior Elle Craven, who earned all-state in both slalom and giant slalom, much like Beattie. "She's a lot of fun to be around, and she's a good skier."
Beattie placed fifth in each discipline, while Craven took runner-up honors in slalom and third in GS to help guide the Trojans to the girls program's 12th MHSAA Finals title, and fifth since Central and West split in 1997.
The title also brought things full circle for Trojans head coach Amy Kudary, who now has state crowns as both a skier and coach. Kudary won a Finals title as an athlete at Traverse City Central in 1989 under coaches Donald Dunsmore and Jerry Stanek.
"This is fan-tas-tic," Kudary said, drawing the word out as long as possible. "I have to say I think it's even more exciting winning as a coach than as an athlete, being able to share it with all these girls."
Central edged Marquette by four points, 56 to 60. Clarkston (117) took third, with Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern/Eastern fourth (151).
Marquette certainly didn't make matters easy. The Trojans and Redettes were tied after the morning slalom. With Craven (second), Beattie (fifth) and Maddy Cox (11th) in the top dozen, Marquette countered with Anna Grzelak (third), Ada Bernard (sixth) and Ella Jones (10th).
"After the first round (of) the GS, we had a good feeling," Beattie said. "That was super cool, because we were ahead at that point, but we still had one more and all of our times were so close on the first run that the second one really did matter a lot, so that was super cool that we pulled it off."
TC Central hadn't won a Finals title since 2013, edging out Walled Lake Central that year. Marquette's girls had claimed the last five crowns and 13 since 1992.
The Finals featured many differences from previous years to combat spreading COVID-19, with team tents set up far away from the finish lines, teams not allowed to go into the lodge for more than using the restroom and ordering food from the cafeteria. No leader boards, which typically gather large crowds in close proximity, were present. The award ceremonies were held outside.
"It felt weird all day, didn't feel like states, but it was a fun day," Beattie said. "The weather was good, so that always makes it better. We knew that we were capable of it, so I'm glad to see it finally paid off. I think just the fact of not being able to be together as a team like the night before – that’s always super fun because we go to dinner and do a bunch of fun stuff. We didn't get to do that this year."
Lily Kuberski was Central's fourth skier in both events, taking 17th in slalom and 20th in GS.
"I knew that we were a strong team (in) GS and I knew that if anything, we'd be able to make up points there," Beattie said. "So, I think I mean, I just thought of it as good competition, honestly. And it pushed me harder for sure."
Sarra Guggemos of Okemos won the girls slalom by 19 hundredths of a second over Craven, whose second run was 0.20 faster.
"It's been such an achievement," Craven said. "We've been working forward for this for so long, it's been such a great time getting to achieve it with everyone. We knew we were capable of it. It's just a matter of executing it and Marquette's a great team, so we knew it was going to be tough. We just wanted to go out and show how we knew we can ski and support everyone."
Holly Grzelak of Forest Hills Northern/Eastern won the GS title by almost two seconds over Rochester Adams' Katie Fodale, with Craven third, followed by Birmingham United's Marie Morris, Beattie, TC West's Lila Warren, Cox, Guggemos and the Marquette pair of Anna Grzelak and Ella Jones to round out the top 10. Lexi Hammerstrom and Maddy Stern added 11th- and 12th-place finishes for the Redettes.
Anna Grzelak took third in slalom behind Guggemos and Craven, with Warren fourth, Beattie fifth and Bernard, Forest Hills' Jayce O'Neill, Milford's Maddie Melody, Clarkston's Courtney Bailey and Jones rounding out the top 10.
"These girls skied fantastic today," Kudary said of her team. "They deserve this, for sure. … Not to take anything away from Marquette. They put up a great fight and made us really work hard until the very end. It really made all six girls really count today.
"This year these girls really have worked hard as a team. They've cheered for each other as a team, they've trained as a team, they've competed as a team. In a sport where you perform individually, they really delivered as a team today. And that's why we're holding the trophy. That makes me so proud."
PHOTOS: (Top) Traverse City Central celebrates its first Finals championship since 2013 on Monday at Nub’s Nob. (Middle) Forest Hills Northern/Eastern’s Holly Grzelak won the giant slalom at the Division 1 Finals. (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.