Gladstone Girls Claim first MHSAA Title

February 20, 2016

By Keith Shelton
Special for Second Half

MARQUETTE – In a deficit to begin the day, the Gladstone swimmers had their work cut out for them.

So when it got down to the final three events of the day, and the PA announcer read off the standings, the elation and excitement when Gladstone was called in first place for the first time was genuine – the result of a hard day's work with little room for error. 

By the time the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, it was a victory lap for the Braves, who were crowned Upper Peninsula champions for the first time Saturday at the MHSAA Girls Swimming & Diving Finals at Marquette High School.

Gladstone, which practices at the Northern Lights YMCA of Delta County, does not have a diving team. So the Braves could only watch Friday as their competitors built an advantage. 

"Knowing we don't have diving, and we were going to give up those points, I talked about building depth in the team," said Gladstone head coach Tom Desy. "If we were going to win, we had to be strong in all events, all the way through. The girls dedicated themselves this year to do that. I had a lot of girls step up and swim events that they normally don't like to swim, but they did it for the good of the team."

Gladstone won with 281 points, followed by Houghton with 244 and Marquette with 241. The relatively tight finish was even closer prior to the final events. Before the 17th event, the 200 freestyle relay, Houghton had a slim lead, followed by Marquette and Gladstone. All three teams were within eight points of each other. 

But the Braves' saved their best for last. Their 200 freestyle relay team of Jesse Flath, Sydney Herioux, Kirsten Williams and Lindsey McCann finished first with a time of 1:48.98. Gladstone followed with a victory in the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, and 400 freestyle relay, sweeping the final four events to surge past the competition. 

"Marquette and some of the other teams were strong in the IMs, but I know our team is very strong in the back and the breaststroke," Desy said. "I kind of thought if we could stay close, when the back and the breaststroke came up, we could do well, and we did."

Katie Stephenson had an outstanding day for the Braves. The junior placed first in the 100 backstroke (1:04.15), the 50 freestyle (25.72), anchored the Braves winning 400 freestyle relay and was part of the winning 200 medley relay team, the latter of which had a time of 1:57.63, just four tenths of a second off setting a U.P. Finals record. 

"It was just adrenaline today," said Stephenson. "I got out of the 100 backstroke and I was breathing so hard, I puked. But I hopped back in. I wanted to finish it (400 freestyle relay) for (senior teammate) Jesse (Flath)."

Herioux, a freshman, won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:12.40, three seconds faster than her seed time. Sophomore Claire Tembruell placed second in the 100 butterfly and third in the 100 back, and Flath placed second in both the 200 and 100 freestyles. 

"Everyone tried their hardest today; it was amazing," exclaimed Flath. "It's amazing considering it's only our fourth year as a team."

Houghton held the lead for a good part of the day, but coach Erik Johnson was satisfied with the runner-up finish, saying his team exceeded expectations. 

"If you told me at the end of the meet last year that we were going to finish second, I would have told you, you're out of your mind," he said. "We had a phenomenal meet."

The Houghton girls captured a bevy of second and third-place finishes, with no individual winners, but used their depth and consistency in all events to stay in contention.

"Our girls were undefeated during the season. They knew what they had to do and really stepped up," Johnson said. "Sam Olson was third in the 200 free, and second in the 500, and that helped a ton. It doesn't always come down to winning events. It comes down to those kids that squeeze into sixth place."

The Gladstone swim team, which has a co-op with neighboring Escanaba, was ineligible to compete in the U.P. Finals its first two years, as a club program. But Gladstone’s team became varsity for the 2014-15 season and quickly made a splash with a runner-up finish. 

Desy has been there to see his team grow. Prior to taking the coaching job with the Braves, he ran the feeder program at the YMCA for eight seasons. 

"This is a proud moment," Desy said. "I'm proud for the Escanaba and Gladstone combined schools. I’m proud of the girls that were on this team, some of which may not have continued through the YMCA without a high school program in place. I'm also very proud of the work I did for the Y, because the Y does a great job with the swim program. Normally without a high school team, those kids would go on to other sports. Now they have a focus to keep swimming and trying hard."

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Swimmers launch during a race Saturday at Marquette High School. (Middle) A Gladstone swimmer points to the clock as her team made its first MHSAA championship run. (Click for more from Jarvinen Photography.)

MHSAA Winter Sports Start with Extended Basketball Schedules, New Wrestling Weights

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 13, 2022

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:

Boys Basketball
Districts – March 6, 8, 10
Regionals – March 13, 15
Quarterfinals – March 21
Semifinals – March 23-24
Finals – March 25

Girls Basketball
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

Competitive Cheer
District – Feb. 17-18
Regionals – Feb. 25
Finals – March 2-3

Regionals – March 4
Finals – March 10-11

Ice Hockey
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.