Champs Prevail in Dominating Fashion

March 11, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

CANTON – Brighton senior Courtney Casper packed an eventful final month into her only season of high school gymnastics.

An accomplished club competitor, Casper joined the Bulldogs’ team this winter – and Saturday at Plymouth High School added an MHSAA Division 1 title to league and Regional championships she’d won over the last few weeks.

Casper scored an all-around 37.975 to edge Rockford senior Nicole Coughlin by 75 hundredths of a point in the most dominant Division 1 Finals performance since Grand Ledge’s Meghan McWhorter also won all-around and three individual apparatuses in 2008.

Casper tied senior teammate Hannah Bracken to win vault (9.700), and also took first on uneven parallel bars (9.650) and floor exercise (9.775).

“It’s really exciting because it was my first year on high school, and I couldn’t have finished any better than I did,” Casper said. “It was a lot less pressure for me (than club), so it was kinda just more for fun.”

Casper tied for second, with Coughlin, at the prestigious Canton Invitational at the start of February. That meet frequently is an indicator of which gymnasts will contend for MHSAA titles a month later, and Casper managed her high standing despite falling twice that day.

She said she was most proud of her floor routine Saturday, and for good reason – her score tied for third-highest in Division 1 Finals history. Her vault score tied for 15th highest on the MHSAA Finals record book list for that event.

Coughlin, who finished fifth and third, respectively, over the previous two seasons, won balance beam with a 9.500. A day after leading Rockford to its third straight team championship, Coughlin capped her high school career with a personal-best all-around score of 37.900. The beam championship also was her second straight on that apparatus.

She and Casper finished seven tenths of a point better than the rest of the field.

“I was just really proud of our team still from (Friday), so we just tried to carry that same energy into today,” Coughlin said. “I just wanted to come in and hit all four routines, and I did, so I’m super proud of that.”

Port Huron sophomore Brianne Smith placed third, up from 12th her first season, and Grand Rapids Forest Hills United senior Christine Byam was fourth in Division 1 after taking sixth a year ago. Nicole’s twin Carly Coughlin finished fifth, and Grosse Pointe United senior Isabelle Nguyen came in sixth to go with her previous Division 1 finishes of fifth, second and second during her first three seasons of high school.

In Division 2, Farmington United junior Elisa Bills took the next step after missing out on the 2016 championship by only three tenths of a point.

Competing in part against a Farmington lineup filled with strong Division 2 teammates, Bills hadn’t finished first in an all-around competition this winter. But she got her first place when it counted most, scoring a 37.550, which tied for fifth-highest in Division 2 Finals history.

She won vault (9.575), beam (9.400) and floor (9.525). Her bars score tied for sixth and her floor score tied for 12th in Division 2 Finals history. She was the first Division 2 gymnast to win all-around and three apparatuses since Troy Athens’ Brooke Madzia in 2009.

“All the hard work paid off, throughout the whole year, just going hard and staying in the game throughout the whole day,” Bills said. “Even if there was one fall, or one bobble, you just had to keep positive throughout the whole day and go hard and give it your all.”

Bills’ all-around score would’ve placed third in Division 1 and cleared the field by 0.825 points. Howell senior Alyssa Walker (36.725) and Livonia Blue senior Jessica Weak (36.675) finished second and third all-around, respectively. Both of their scores were high enough to also make the MHSAA Finals record book for Division 2. Weak also repeated as bars champion with a score of 9.325, three tenths of a point higher than her winning score in 2016.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Brighton’s Courtney Casper performs her floor routine during Saturday’s Finals at Plymouth High School. (Middle) Rockford’s Nicole Coughlin, on beam Saturday, finished second in Division 1. (Below) Farmington’s Elisa Bills also performs on floor on the way to winning the Division 2 title. (Click to see more at

Performance of the Week: Grand Ledge's Alaina Yaney

March 17, 2023

Alaina YaneyAlaina Yaney ♦ Grand Ledge
Senior ♦ Gymnastics

After finishing runner-up by just half a point as a junior, Yaney closed her high school gymnastics career Saturday with the Division 1 all-around championship, posting an all-around score of 38.075 and with first places on balance beam (9.475) and vault (9.700). She also tied for second on floor exercise (9.575) and finished third on uneven parallel bars (9.325). Her vault score tied for 16th-highest in Division 1 Finals competition all-time. 

Not surprisingly, Yaney also was her Regional's all-around champion (37.550). She also helped Grand Ledge finish eighth in Friday's Team Final competition, with her 37.475 the highest all-around score that day, before the next afternoon becoming the eighth Comets gymnast to win the Finals' Division 1 individual championship. A gymnast since age 3, Yaney will continue academically at Central Michigan Univerrsity and is considering attempting to walk-on the gymnastics team. 

@mhsaasports 🤸‍♀️POW: Alaina Yaney #performanceoftheweek #gymnast #allaround #beam #vault #firstplace #gymnastics #statechamp #champion #individual #record #grandledge #comets #congrats #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok#mistudentaid #fyp @alaina_yaney ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.

MI Student Aid's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

2022-23 Honorees

March 9: Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2:
Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

PHOTO Grand Ledge's Alaina Yaney competes during Friday's Team Final at White Lake Lakeland. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)