Performance: DeWitt's Jordyn Shipps

September 13, 2019

Jordyn Shipps
DeWitt junior – Swimming

The Panthers’ standout won the 200-yard freestyle (1:56.91) and 100 butterfly (58.77) at her team’s DeWitt Invitational on Saturday against a field that included ranked teams Chelsea and Grand Rapids Northview. Although the season is only a few weeks old, both times would’ve placed at last year’s Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals and she finished ahead of 2018 Finals placers or qualifiers in both races – earning Shipps the first MHSAA “Performance of the Week” of the 2019-20 school year.

Shipps finished fifth in the butterfly and sixth in the 200 individual medley at last year’s LPD2 Finals, swimming also on the seventh-place 200 medley and 13th-place 200 freestyle relays. She was sixth in the butterfly and fourth in the IM in LPD3 as a freshman in 2017, also swimming on two placing relays along with her oldest sister Sydney. Jordyn is the third daughter and youngest sibling from this generation of one of the best-known swim families in the Lansing area; Sydney was a six-time Finals individual placer over her last three seasons of high school and competes now at Saginaw Valley State University, and their father Steve Shipps was a five-time LP Class B Finals champion from 1986-88 who went on to earn All-America honors at Michigan State University. Middle sister Ashley was a standout distance runner, graduating from DeWitt this spring, and is a freshman competing at Western Michigan University.

Jordyn changed up her swim training this summer from sprint-based to more middle distance to “branch out a bit,” she said, and the 200 free is among races she’s also considering swimming at this season’s Finals in November. She’ll no doubt have an opportunity in two years to follow her sisters and compete at the college level in addition to shining academically – Jordyn carries a 4.0 GPA and ranks among the top 10 percent of her graduating class academically. She’s considering engineering and pre-medical studies as possible options when that time comes – she enjoys the math and process of engineering, and the opportunity to impact people’s lives in medicine. For now, she’s making another giant impact on a DeWitt swimming & diving team that finished fourth Saturday coming off a 12th-place LPD2 Finals finish a year ago – and doesn’t have a senior this fall.

Coach Gregg Brace said: “Jordyn sets high standards for herself. She is frequently the first person in the water at practice. She works hard all the time and doesn’t back off when practice gets hard. She expects to be challenged in practice, and if she feels she isn’t getting challenged she will let me know. … Having a student like Jordyn on the team helps to build our positive team culture. Win or lose she always reaches out to her opponents to congratulate them after every race. She encourages her teammates and leads by example. She is the first to start on setup and cleanup before and after meets. Her attitude really helps build our team-first focus.”

Performance Point: “Early this season we started to create a very positive and fun environment within our team, so that’s helped me swim faster – it’s easy to swim faster when you’re having fun,” Shipps said. “So now that we’ve created that positive and fun environment, I feel more motivated to go fast and wanting to go fast because I have the most supportive team ever. And the other thing that helps with the invitational and going fast was Coach Brace – we’ve been doing some different training this year, just those tough sets that he always gives us to challenge us have really been helpful. … I really wasn’t expecting to swim that fast last weekend. We had great competition there – we never get to see Northview or Chelsea or places like that, so it was just nice to have competition like that. To have those people to race against I think really helped me to pace off of them and try to go fast.”

On a mission: “This year we have a pretty young team. We’re not graduating any seniors, so everyone on the team will be coming back next year. I think (Coach Brace) sees a lot of potential with us. We have some freshmen with a lot of potential (and) they have a background in club swimming. I think he’s trying to make a base for us, so we can continue it throughout the year and continue to do good this year and next year.”

No seniors, but many leaders: “Our junior class has seven or eight kids in it, so all seven or eight are stepping up to leadership roles. We all play a part in how we lead the team and in showing the underclassmen what to do in certain situations. It’s been nice to not only have captains step up but have everyone in the junior class help the underclassmen to get into a routine with training and school. The balance is always hard between school and swimming, and our junior class is very helpful with helping other people, which is good.”

Shipps sail together: “I really wasn’t going to join swimming until my older sisters did – they kinda pushed me to join the sport. I saw them at practice and meets and said I was like, ‘Wow, I want to do that. That’s looks fun.’ (My dad) was the head of our club, so he guided me into program, but it was really my older sisters that made me want to do the sport. … It’s super fun and supportive. As a family we always have that competitive edge. So it helps to have people guide me through different situations, and it’s just nice to have people there for me who know what it’s like to be in that stressful situation and that stressful race and what to do. They’ve been super helpful and supportive toward me. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”

Ready to race: “I’m super confident about where I’m at right now this year, especially with the way Coach Brace has been training us. I’m very confident leading up to the state finals. I have different goals this year: I’m trying to be at the top of the state of course; first place or second place is where I’m aiming now, (and I have) a lot of best times I’m hoping for. I think this might be the year where I have those breakthrough swims.”

– Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

PHOTOS: (Top) DeWitt's Jordyn Shipps races in the 100 freestyle during a dual last season against St. Johns. (Middle) Shipps swims the backstroke; she won both events at that meet. (Photos by TCP 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.