By Ryan Stieg
Special for Second Half
MARQUETTE – It takes a team effort to win an Upper Peninsula swimming & diving title, and that was definitely true for the Gladstone girls team Saturday.
The Braves were facing some stiff competition from Marquette and reigning champion Houghton. But Gladstone got a record-breaking time from its 200-yard medley relay and a win in the 200 freestyle relay to push it over the top.
The Braves finished with 303 points, well ahead of the Redettes (273) and Gremlins (237).
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Gladstone coach Tom Desy said. “The girls swam very well today. The 200 medley relay set a U.P. (Finals) record by over two seconds, so that was a great start for us. That was pretty awesome, then the 200 free relay, we missed (a U.P. Finals record) by a tenth of a second. So it was just a great day.”
Desy also led the Braves to a championship in 2016, but said this one meant more because he didn’t anticipate it happening.
“This one is better because this one was kind of unexpected,” he said. “They swam great, so this was a good surprise.”
The Redettes did everything they could to win. Marquette took first in six of the 12 events including the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“I think they did amazing,” Marquette coach Nathan McFarren said. “It was heartbreaking to have one of our top swimmers out with the flu. We can’t be upset with it either because wherever I needed them, they performed.
“They also had a great taper and some amazing swims. Gladstone is a powerhouse this year, and Tom did a great job with that crew. Their first relay breaking the record was incredible. I’m proud of U.P. swimming in that sense because without that competition, without those things happening, my swimmers don’t get better either.”
Mollie Kilpela won both the 50 and 100 freestyles for Marquette, while Erin Vanderschaaf took home titles in the 500 free and 200 individual medley. Lexi LaCombe was the last Redettes champion, as she finished first in the 100 backstroke.
Houghton won only one event with Samantha Olson finishing first in the 200 free, but Gremlins coach Erik Johnson liked what he saw from his team.
“I thought the girls did really well,” he said. “They had a lot of great swims and everybody, for the most part, dropped their times. That’s all you can really ask for. Gladstone was loaded this year, and Tom does a great job with his team. Marquette also had a good team. I’m really happy that they were able to finish third this year.”
Kingsford finished fourth overall with 121 points, and Sault Ste. Marie took fifth at 100. The Blue Devils’ Aliah Robertson won the 100 butterfly (59.27) and 100 breaststroke (1:06.31) and set U.P. Finals records in both events.
“Our freshman, Ali, really stepped up today with two U.P. records,” Sault Ste. Marie coach Steve Habusta said. “That doesn’t happen often. For her to beat two of the oldest records on the board by almost two seconds is just unheard of.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette and Gladstone swimmers launch during a race at Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Finals. (Middle) Sault Ste. Marie’s Aliah Robertson completes her record swim in the 100 breaststroke. (Photos by Daryl Jarvinen/Jarvinen Photos.)
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.