MARQUETTE — Many of the Houghton High School girls may be too young to remember when the Gremlins had last earned an Upper Peninsula swimming title.
The Gremlins, however, created their own memories on Saturday as they gained their first title in 12 years with 339 points. They were followed by 11-time defending champion Marquette 319 and Sault Ste. Marie 155.
“In all the recent history, not only did we have the depth,” Houghton coach Roger Woods said shortly after diving in the pool with his team moments after receiving the championship trophy. “We also had the top end talent. We just couldn’t win the relays. Last year, we got swept in the relays. This year, we won only one. But we were close in the others.”
Houghton senior Rebecca Jaczczak retained her 50-yard freestyle title in 25.62 seconds and copped her first 100 backstroke crown (1:07.14) at the Marquette High School pool.
“I’m real happy with that,” said Jaczczak, who hopes to major in exercise science, but is undecided on which college she wants to attend. “Coming in here as a defending champion in 50 freestyle was a great motivator. All the hard work and focus this season paid off. Also, our coach is phenomenal. He has a passion for everything we do. HIs positive thinking rubs off an all of us.”
Jaczazak also helped the Gremlins open with a victory in the 200 medley relay and place second in the 400 freestyle relay.
Sophomore Hannah Gundlach, also a part of the Gremlins’ 400 relay, added a first in 500 freestyle (5:40.21) and second in 200 freestyle (2:08.79).
“Hannah knows how to swim in a big meet,” said Woods. “It was the same thing in the 200. When I saw her take off out of the gates, I knew she was going to have a good day.”
Adding an individual first for Houghton was sophomore Sophie Witting in 100 butterfly (1:09.32), who also helped the winning 200 medley relay and second-place 200 freestyle unit.
Marquette’s leader was senior Katy Beckstrom, who won 100 breaststroke (1:12.37) and helped the winning 400 freestyle relay and runner-up 200 medley relay.
“Our senior girls had an amazing end to their season,” said Marquette coach Nate McFarren. “All of them had personal bests. Personally, I wanted everything for all our kids. I’m very proud of them, their parents, our assistant coaches, helpers and community.”
Marquette’s underclassmen showed plenty of promise in this meet. A prime example was the 500 freestyle where the Redettes took three of the top five places.
For example, sophomore Janelle Carroll was runner-up in the 500 freestyle (5:50.14) and helped the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Classmate Logan Vear also helped the two shorter relays and placed second in 200 individual medley (2:30.55) and third in 100 butterfly (1:11.11).
“We’re excited about the girls we have coming back,” said McFarren. “I think we have the potential to field a very strong team next year.”
Next year’s U.P. FInals will be held at Houghton.
“We’re looking forward to that,” said Hancock-Jeffers coach Joanne Rouleau. “That will be a nice, short trip. All we’ll have to do is go across the (Portage Canal lift) bridge.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Swimmers leap at the start of a race during Saturday's Finals at Marquette High School. (Middle) Champion Houghton poses on the trophy stand after clinching this season's title. (Photos courtesy of Keith Freeman of Freeman's Photography.)
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.