TC Central Repeats in D1, While Adams & Marquette Celebrate Winners

By Andrew Rosenthal
Special for Second Half

February 28, 2022

BOYNE FALLS — If Rochester Adams sophomore Katie Fodale was going to win a Division 1 Finals title this year, she didn’t think it would be in slalom.

Last year’s giant slalom runner-up showed off on the other side of the mountain Monday. Fodale won slalom with the only sub 31-second run of the day at Boyne Mountain for her first Finals championship of her early ski career.

“I probably skied like the best slalom of my life today,” Fodale said. “I think I was super aggressive. I was trying to go as fast as I could. I wasn’t worried about falling. I think that’s like a big thing because if you’re going to ski cautiously then it’s just not going to be your fastest. I didn't; I just went as fast as I could.”

Fodale managed to top last year’s slalom runner-up, Traverse City Central senior Elle Craven, after Craven hiked on her first run, but the one damper on the day didn’t seem to hurt the perennial state-contending Trojans much.

Craven medaled in GS with a team-leading fourth-place run, and Central clinched back-to-back team titles after last year’s group won its first since 2013. It was the Trojans’ 13th Finals championship in girls skiing.

“Each one is just as special as the other, for sure,” Central coach Amy Kudary said. “This one is so special to me because we both came into the program at the same time. I started four years ago when this group was freshmen. We’ve all grown together over the last four years. We’ve all changed, grown and gotten better at everything we do.”

Kudary took over for longtime — and successful — Central ski coach Jerry Stanek in 2018-19, and he’s been an assistant with the program since. She also skied for him when the Trojans won the Open Class Finals championship in 1989.

“For him to be back coaching with me now and winning with him is one of the most special things in my mind,” she said.

For the Trojans, senior Maddy Cox went home with twin all-state honors, finishing fifth in GS and sixth in slalom. Avery Sill finished eighth in GS, and Pearl Hale, Sill and Lilly Kuberski all took top-15 spots in slalom.

“It’s bittersweet because it’s coming to an end, but I’m so happy with how I was able to race today and how I was able to help the team,” said Cox, who was all-state in GS as a junior.

Marquette skiingCox joined Charlie Schulz from Traverse City West (10th in slalom, sixth in GS) with two medals. Lila Warren (10th in GS) and Olivia Bageris (seventh in slalom) had all-state finishes for the Titans. Dillyn Mohr and Ellie Gruber were top-15 in slalom. Gruber was 18th in GS. 

The Titans, who ended the day runners-up, went into the lunch break with a team lead and landed four in the top 15 for the girls slalom. West has won three Finals championships and now two runner-up trophies.

“For the girls, this is incredibly exciting because they weren't even at this meet last year,” West coach Ed Johnson said. “We just saw at the beginning of the year that there was that much potential with the girls and how they were skiing together and their consistency. We just knew if we could keep building on that throughout the season they could probably get to this point.”

Marquette didn’t make an appearance as a team, but that didn’t stop the lone Upper Peninsula school in Division 1 from bringing a championship back over the Mackinac Bridge.

Senior Maddy Stern landed on the podium twice, winning the GS title and earning all-state in slalom finishing eighth.

“I just was able to stick to it and carve all my turns well,” Stern said. “I could just carry my speed from the steeps to the flats pretty good.”

She and Anna Grezlak represented Marquette at the Girls Finals. Like the two Traverse City schools, Marquette is a rightful ski dynasty of its own, having won five of the last seven Division 1 championships.

“I really wish my team was here to support and so I can support them, but I really am having a great time just showing what Marquette can do,” Stern said. “We did have a tough season this year, but it was a great way to go out.” 

She’s off to represent the U.P. some more. In four days, Stern travels to Attitash, New Hampshire to race with USSA Team Michigan.

“I did a lot of training this year just preparing for this day,” Stern said.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Rochester Adams’ Katie Fodale cuts past a gate during a slalom run Monday at Boyne Mountain. (Middle) Marquette’s Maddy Stern speeds toward the finish of the giant slalom. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)

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.)