Performance: Harrison's Ashley Turak

November 23, 2017

Ashley Turak
Farmington Hills Harrison junior – Swimming

Turak led the Farmington/Harrison co-op swimming & diving team to a third-place finish at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals, winning two individual events and helping two championship relays to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.” Her 50-yard freestyle time of 22.38 seconds set a meet record, and both of her individual event times qualified for All-America honors from the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association.

A top-four finisher in both the 50 and 100 freestyles as a sophomore, Turak entered Friday’s prelims seeded second in both races. Her winning 50 time was 77 hundredths of a second faster than her lowest entering the weekend – an almost unheard of drop in time for the shortest race – and she cut an also-impressive 73 hundredths of a second off her top 100 time entering the meet by winning that title in 49.79. Both finishes broke her previous school records in those events. She also swam the first leg on the 200 freestyle relay that won in 1:34.67, and the anchor on the 400 freestyle relay that won in 3:26.35. Both relays also qualified for All-America status, and both entered the Finals seeded third.

Turak will be part of the final senior class at Harrison, which is set to close at the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year. It’s becoming a bittersweet good-bye – she’s excited to be able to honor the school as one of its final graduates, but of course sad to see it close. She will continue to represent though as she goes on to college swimming – she’s sifting through options with more sure to come – and she’s considering studying something in the biology or medical fields. Turak carries a 3.7 grade-point average as part of Harrison’s rigorous International Baccalaureate program.

Coach Kyle Kinyon said:Her coaches and teammates are so proud of her for achieving a goal she set out to accomplish at the beginning of this season. She obviously is talented, but her success is rooted in her preparation in practice. Ashley is constantly looking for feedback about her technique and training. She routinely pushes herself to be better, as well as encouraging her teammates to do the same. Turak leads the team by her example in and out of the pool. She does the little things right, including proper nutrition and dry land training in addition to her sprint training. It is for this reason she was named a captain of the team as a junior this year.” 

Performance Point: “I think the hard work really paid off, because for the whole season my coach kept telling me the end goal is the state meet,” Turak said. “Going into the state meet, I definitely wanted to make a statement, work with my team to get us as high of a placement as we could. I guess my biggest takeaway is you’re going to keep getting better. But with that, you’ve got to keep working hard to get there. … The first day I wouldn’t call it the best day, but I still (cut) time which was good. I guess the second day I was just really fired up going in. I didn’t feel as nervous for the meet and I just wanted to do what I could for my team, because being seeded first (after prelims) in two of my events going in, it was just really pumping me up.”

Making her move: “A year ago, I didn’t even think I would be in this position. I was racing (Brighton) senior Taylor Seaman, and I looked up to her and saw her as a role model. I never would’ve expected to come near her times and even break her state record in the 50 free.”

Farmington pride: “Farmington’s swim program has always been something that has been growing and developing, and we’re getting more and more great swimmers every year. And all of the swimmers are growing individually and as a team. So it’s obviously great to see (this year’s LPD1 champion) Mercy achieve all these things, because they’re the best swim school in the state for girls. When the (Mercy) girls were actually on the podium for first place, my team was chanting “representing Farmington swim program.” It’s pretty cool to come from the same place and have two top teams finishing there. And it’s great for my team because we’re newly developed – we’ve only been a team for two years. So going from last year placing 13th to third place, that was really awesome.”

Last of the Hawks: “It’s obviously really sad because we’re seeing the student body (enrollment) is dropping. But it’s really cool to be able to represent Harrison in its final years and be in the last graduating class. My friends and I were actually at a Harrison football game a few weeks ago, and it’s really cool talking to the alumni. They were sharing their experiences about how they went here in the ‘80s and how we’re going to be the last class to represent, and that resemblance of pride in the school. It’s really sad that I’m not going to be able to go to games in the future as an alumni, but I like being able to be the class that represents the closing of it.”

Serving notice: “Swim has always been very underappreciated here, especially the girls team because our boys … have been winning a lot of league titles, which is really cool to watch and awesome to see them do that. The girls kinda being underdogs this year, and coming in winning second in the county of Oakland and third in the state of Michigan for D1, I think it’s cool that we’re making a statement now. I think people are starting to notice, because on Monday swim actually made the announcements before football, which never happens. And I’ve been getting a lot of congratulations in the hallway, and I’ve been noticed by my principal, so it’s really cool that our swim team is actually being noticed.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2017-18 honorees:
November 16: Bryce Veasley, West Bloomfield football - Read 
November 9: Jose Penaloza, Holland soccer - Read
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City Central golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Farmington/Harrison's Ashley Turak receives her championship medal for winning the 50 freestyle at Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Turak, third from bottom, prepares to launch for the start of the 200 freestyle relay. (Click for more from

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.