ROCKFORD – The Rockford gymnastics team has put together quite the resume in the last seven years.
The Rams are hoping to add to their impressive list of past accomplishments in a couple of weeks.
Rockford, which won three straight MHSAA Finals from 2015-17 and placed runner-up in 2019 and last year, is preparing to make another charge after winning Wednesday night’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Rainbow championship meet.
“We’ve had a good season so far,” Rams coach Michelle Ankney said. “We’ve been solid, we’re consistent and we’re hanging in there with some of the other top teams in the state. We’re just hoping that we have enough to put in a good round at state this year.”
This year’s Finals are scheduled for March 11-12 at White Lake Lakeland High School.
Rockford is hoping to gain redemption after a near-miss last season. The Rams finished less than a point behind Finals champion Jackson Area.
“They definitely came in motivated this year, and they know what it’s like to be there,” Ankney said. “They know what it’s like to just miss out, and they want to win if they can. They are definitely working for it by trying to get new skills and get our consistency up so we’re ready for state in a few weeks.”
The Rams graduated only two gymnasts from a year ago, leaving the squad with plenty of returning experience and talent.
They went unbeaten through the conference dual season, and earlier this month proved their mettle state-wide with a victory at the prestigious Canton Invitational.
“We are setting some high expectations for ourselves, but we just need to go out and do our best and not focus on anyone else,” said junior Lacey Scheid, who placed runner-up in the Division 1 all-around last year to Grand Ledge’s Lizzie Maurer.
“We are all there for each other, and we help each other with everything. We are open with each other, and we push each other so much. We motivate each other, and we just work well together.”
Scheid and senior Anna Tracey combine to produce a formidable one-two punch for the Rams.
Tracey placed runner-up in the Division 2 all-around at last year’s Finals and also won an individual title on the beam.
“Both of those girls are going for it this year,” Ankney said. “Anna’s consistency has been there, and she is a rock. She is solid, and she just added two new skills that will definitely boost her skills a bit and just might be enough.”
Scheid and Tracey competed together in club gymnastics.
“I love Anna, and she motivates me so much,” Scheid said. “We are neck and neck with everything we do, and it’s been that way since club. She’s been doing amazing this year and has so many new skills. Her new skills and me recovering from surgery is motivating me to pick up the pace and step up my game.”
Scheid, who won bars at last year’s Finals, has persevered through injuries in both legs.
She was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels.
Scheid had surgery on her right leg last summer and is expected to have surgery again this summer after experiencing similar symptoms this season in her left leg.
“She is coming back from an injury, but working hard,” Ankney said. “She is doing her best to get some new skills, and she definitely wants to make a run at the title this year.”
Scheid said the injury has hindered her ability to execute certain skills.
“There is discomfort, and I’ve had to limit practice time and do treatments,” she said. “This season has been hard on me physically and mentally, but hopefully after surgery this summer I will be able to go into my senior year pain-free.”
Scheid’s performance last year surprised even herself. It was her first year competing at the high school gymnastics championship meet due to the pandemic canceling the 2020 Finals.
“I didn’t have high expectations at all last year, so my goal was just to have fun, do my best and focus on myself,” Scheid said. “I was very shocked.”
Other top performers for the Rams include senior captains Joey Gair, who competes in the all-around, and Olivia Schubert (vault).
Among underclassmen, sophomores Hailey Hill (beam/floor) and Kayley Burke (floor) and freshmen Katie Tracey (beam/bars) and Avery Renberg (floor) also provide a boost.
Beam has become Rockford’s staple event this season with several gymnasts improving their scores.
“Most people hate going to beam, but we kind of celebrate it,” Ankney said. “We’ve just put up some good numbers and hopefully we’re consistent and among the top in the state in beam.”
Said Scheid: “Coach makes sure we hit every routine, and we are not allowed to leave until we have stuck at least three routines in a row. We have learned more about ourselves and have really grown as far as being calm and confident in that event.”
Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for four years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Rockford’s Anna Tracey prepares to begin her floor exercise during last season’s Team Finals at Rockford. (Middle) The Rams’ Lacey Scheid performs her routine in helping their team to an overall runner-up finish. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
We take a look at all of the action from the 2023 MHSAA Gymnastics State Finals.
Congratulations to Rockford on winning the Team Gymnastics State Title