WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP — Talk about a surprise.
Morgan Ruffing of the Livonia Red co-op team knew her all-around score, and sat patiently during the awards ceremony at Saturday’s individual gymnastics championship meet at Lakeland High School.
“I was like, ‘They haven’t gotten to my score yet,’” she said. “And then they called the second-place score, and I was like, ‘There’s no way.’”
As it turned out, that was the way. Ruffing had won the Division 1 all-around title.
“I was in disbelief the whole time,” she said of her standing atop the medal stand. “I couldn’t believe this was happening.
Ruffing didn’t win an event, but finished among the top five in each of the four events to total a score of 37.525, a half-point ahead of Grand Ledge’s Alaina Yaney, who was second.
Yaney won the vault but slipped to second with a tie for eighth in the floor exercise.
Lacey Scheid of Rockford, last year’s runner-up, won the floor exercise and the balance beam, but finished well out of the top 10 in the parallel bars, which sent her to third all-around.
It was the beam where Ruffing was able to come back from a disappointing performance in Friday’s team meet when she fell attempting a wolf three-quarter turn.
“The pressure got to her,” Livonia Red coach Mandy Brown said. “It was her last event (Friday) and it came down to her routine. (Saturday), I switched it up and had her starting toward the beginning of the beam lineup so she didn’t feel as much pressure.”
A little intentional amnesia didn’t hurt, either.
“Yeah,” Ruffing said, chuckling at the use of “amnesia.” “I just wanted to focus on one event at a time. If I mess up one event, then just forget about it and go on with my next event.”
Ruffing hit the wolf three-quarter in Saturday’s individual meet. She was fourth in the vault (9.425), fifth on the bars (9.150), fourth on the beam (9.3) and second on the floor (9.65).
Consistency won the day, even if it came as a surprise to the winner.
“My goal, coming in, was top three,” Ruffing said. “I didn’t know (winning) was going to happen. I was totally caught off guard.”
Instead, she moved from third last year to a title that was a most pleasant surprise.
Yaney, who went in expecting to contend for the title, also finished fourth on bars and third on beam on the way to her runner-up all-around score.
“I was hoping for first,” she said. “But second is OK.”
All three top finishers are juniors, which could make the 2023 Finals very interesting, indeed.
Ruffing’s teammate, Avery Boyk, was the other individual event winner, taking first in the parallel bars.
In Division 2, Rockford’s Anna Tracey won the all-around with a 36.325 score while taking first on beam and second on bars.
Lydia Beaton of Grand Ledge (36.150) was second all-around, taking first on vault and floor. Howell’s Maria Petru won the Division 2 bars.
PHOTOS (Top) Livonia Red’s Morgan Ruffing performs here beam routine during Saturday’s Individual Finals at White Lake Lakeland. (Middle) Rockford’s Anna Tracey completes her floor routine. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.