One of the most successful swimmers in Upper Peninsula high school history will have the opportunity Saturday to lead her team to a historic finish as well.
Sault Ste. Marie senior Aliah Robertson will bring five individual and two relay championships into this weekend’s MHSAA Finals at Marquette High School with the Blue Devils strong contenders to claim their first team title.
Here’s a glance at team and individual favorites:
Reigning champion: Marquette
Reigning runner-up: Sault Ste. Marie
Marquette has won the last two championships after finishing runner-up in 2017 and 2018, and the Redettes claimed last year’s title by 77 points. Sault Ste. Marie’s second place in 2020 was its highest finish since 2005. The Blue Devils enter with the top seeds in all three relays and five individual races, plus the reigning champion diver.
Joanne Arbic, Sault Ste. Marie junior – The two-time reigning champion in both the 50 and 100-yard freestyles is seeded first in both (25.87 and 57.16, respectively). She also was part of two relay champs in 2020.
Anna Hildebrand, Sault Ste. Marie junior – She also was on those two relay champions with Arbic and was second in the 200 free and third in the 500 last season. She’s the top seed in the 200 by more than three seconds with a 2:09.50 and the second seed to Arbic in the 100 (57.60). She set the meet record in the 50 last season.
Delaney Marchiol, Marquette junior – The reigning 500 champion also has been part of relay winners each of the last two seasons. She is seeded second in the butterfly (1:06.74) and third in the breaststroke (1:17.62) this weekend.
Adelaide McRoberts, Kingsford freshman – She enters her first Finals with the top seeds in the butterfly (1:00.06) and backstroke (1:00.96).
Aliah Robertson, Sault Ste. Marie senior – She is seeded first in the breaststroke (1:07.39) by 10 seconds and the individual medley (2:12.88) by nearly 14. She holds in the meet records in both of those events and the breaststroke.
Grace Sobczak, Marquette freshman – She also enters her first Finals with a chance to make a quick impact, seeded second in the IM (2:26.56) and first in the 500 (5:38.80).
Sault Ste. Marie 200 medley relay – Robertson, Arbic, Hildebrand and sophomore Julie Innerebner have a seed time five seconds faster than the field at 1:56.24 after the same group won in a U.P. Finals-record 1:54.26 last season.
Sault Ste. Marie 200 freestyle relay – Robinson, Arbic, Hildebrand and Innerebner also are the reigning champs in this relay, hoping to cut last season’s meet-record time of 1:42 and entering this weekend with a seed time of 1:45.26.
Brianna Jones, Sault Ste. Marie sophomore – The reigning diving champion won last season with a 174.95.
Avery Mariuzza, Ishepming Westwood senior – She finished second to Jones last season scoring a 173.80, and also fourth as a sophomore and third as a freshman.
PHOTO: Sault Ste. Marie’s Aliah Robertson swims the winning 100-yard butterfly during the 2019 Upper Peninsula Finals. (Click for more from 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.