Performance: Sault Ste Marie's Aliah Robertson

February 23, 2018

Aliah Robertson
Sault Ste. Marie freshman – Swimming

At her first Upper Peninsula Finals on Saturday, Robertson didn’t just break two records – she “obliterated” them, quoting Sault Ste. Marie coach Steve Habusta’s description of the performance. Robertson swam the 100-yard butterfly in 59.27 seconds and the 100 breaststroke in 1:06.31, knocking more than two seconds off both previous meet records to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

The breaststroke record Robertson broke had stood since 1994, while the previous best in butterfly was posted in 2006. Robertson also contributed to her team’s 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays, with her 50 to start the latter faster than the championship time in that sprint earlier in the meet. Both of her individual event times were Sault Ste. Marie program records as well, and Robertson also has the school’s fastest 200 individual medley in 2:16.28 – which, if swam Saturday, would have won another U.P. Finals title. She also has broken pool records all over the Upper Peninsula during her first high school season.

Robertson plays volleyball during the fall and this spring will join the track & field team and compete in pole vault. She also carries a 4.0 grade-point average. She said she enjoys a good challenge – and should be fun to follow the next three seasons as her times continue to pace the Upper Peninsula and approach the fastest in the Lower Peninsula as well.

Coach Steve Habusta said: “What makes Ali so special as a swimmer isn't her accomplishments. What makes her special is her drive and her character. Ali works as hard as any swimmer I have ever coached. She never complains, misses a set or even an interval. She works through pain, disappointment and fatigue and presses on to accomplish her goals. Her character is second to none; she always has a smile on her face, supports and leads her teammates and is a wonderful all-around kid. What Ali accomplished in the water this year is absolutely remarkable, but pales in comparison to who she is outside of the pool. … Ali's performance at U.P. Finals may be the best individual swimming performance in the history of the U.P., cementing her place as not just one of the best swimmers in the U.P. but one of the best female high school swimmers in all of Michigan.”

Performance Point: “I was pretty confident in what I could do, but I wasn't expecting to do as well as I did,” Robertson said. “I knew I was seeded first in everything, but I wasn't expecting to get the times that I did. I was really shocked. I've never swam that fast.”

Reaching expectations … and then some: “I was kinda just expecting to come in and swim, and next year or the years after that do a little bit better. … It just feels good to be the first one to do something like (breaking those records) in a long time. I'm really excited for the next couple years because there are a lot more freshmen coming up, so I think our relays are going to be pretty good.”

Thank you seniors: “The seniors on our team, they're really fun to be around. They’re really encouraging, so they're my role models on the team.”

Bright future: “Most of the time, the people from downstate are faster than the U.P., so it's good to be that close to the other times. My 100 breast, I really want to improve on that one. I'll probably stay with those two (events), but I want to try to do the 500 free. (My first 500 try) was an interesting race. I'm not really a distance swimmer. I'd like to try it again and see how much better I can do with it.”

Fearless in the pool or pole vault pit: “It's nice to be able to think that you can do things that not many other people can do. It just gives you a rush when you can complete something like that.”

- 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:
February 16: Austin O'Hearon, Eaton Rapids wrestling - Read
February 9: Sophia Wiard, Muskegon Oakridge basketball - Read
February 2: Brenden Tulpa, Hartland hockey - Read
January 25: Brandon Whitman, Dundee wrestling - Read
January 18: Derek Maas, Holland West Ottawa swimming - Read
January 11: Lexi Niepoth, Bellaire basketball - Read
November 30: La'Darius Jefferson, Muskegon football - Read
November 23: Ashley Turak, Farmington Hills Harrison swimming - Read
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) Sault Ste. Marie’s Aliah Robertson swims a record-setting butterfly during Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Finals. (Middle) Robertson also set a meet record in the breaststroke. (Photos by Shari Robertson.)

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.