The most hopeful of MHSAA gymnastics teams have been forced to chase Grand Ledge for more than five seasons.
But of any Finals weekend during the Comets' half-decade run of perfection, this could be the one other teams make their strongest push to catch up.
Grand Ledge has won five straight team titles, six straight Division 1 and two straight Division 2 individual championships. But at least one of those streaks looks possible to end this weekend at Plymouth High School.
Team Finals are Friday beginning at 2 p.m., with Individual Finals at noon Saturday – with both divisions running concurrently this year instead of at separate times as in years past.
Click for a complete list of qualifiers, Regional results and this weekend’s rotation schedules, and see below for teams and individuals who should make a run at the top.
Canton: The Chiefs definitely made Grand Ledge a little nervous last season on the way to finishing runner-up for the second straight, this time with a score of 148.575. And they no doubt are still on the Comets’ minds after nearly ending Grand Ledge’s five-year event winning streak by leading their Canton Invitational with one round left Feb. 2 – before the Comets moved ahead at the end. The Chiefs won their Regional with a score of 145.95, more than five points better than the field, and placed the top four Division 1 individual finishers at that event. Jocelyn Moraw, Maddie Toal, Melissa Green and Nicole Lasecki all posted scores of at least 35.650, and Erica Lucas was second in Division 2 with a score of 35.875.
Farmington: The Falcons similarly dominated their Regional, winning by nearly four points with a score of 142.95, and should climb after taking fifth at last season’s MHSAA Final. Farmington also posted an impressive home invitational win on Jan. 19, edging Canton by nine tenths of a point for that title. Farmington has one Division 1 all-around qualifier this weekend, freshman Carina Wright, plus placed four of the top five in Division 2 at that Regional.
Grand Ledge: The dynasty continues to rise. The Comets haven’t lost or finished second at an event since coming in as runner-up at the 2007 MHSAA Final – a stretch including five title wins and nearly 100 events total over the last five seasons. Grand Ledge won the Rockford Regional with a score of 149.325, 5.8 points more than the field and tops of all Regionals this season. Senior Sara Peltier and freshman Rachel Hogan both made the Division 1 individual all-around Saturday, while senior Lauren Clark and junior Presley Allison took the top two spots in Division 2 at the Regional.
Kylie Dudek, Coldwater senior: After finishing fifth in Division 1 last season with a score of 37.550, Dudek should push for the top three after coming in third at Rockford with a score of 37.350. She won vault at the Regional with a score of 9.8.
Ashley Hextall, Pinckney senior: Hextall won the Mason Regional all-around with a score of 36.950 that included wins on bars (9.125) and floor (9.575). She finished sixth at the Division 2 Final last season with a score of 36.425.
Jocelyn Moraw, Canton sophomore: One of a strong group of Chiefs, Moraw won her Regional with a score of 37.150 that included a win on bars (9.2). She placed eighth in Division 1 last season with a score of 36.900 after finishing among the top nine on three apparatuses and the top 14 on all four.
Madi Myers, Rockford/Sparta freshman: She took last week’s Regionals by storm, beating the Grand Ledge contenders with a score of 38.925 – the best in any Regional this season. She finished first on beam (9.775), bars (9.85) and floor (9.7) and might be the gymnast to beat Saturday.
Sara Peltier, Grand Ledge senior: The Comets annually find a new standout to top the lineup, and Peltier took over this season for graduated Division 1 champ Christine Wilson. Peltier won the Division 2 championship last season with a score of 37.275, and finished second to Myers at the Rockford Regional with a score of 37.575 despite only an 8.8 on beam.
Abbey Robb, Birmingham senior: She could push into the mix after finishing second at the Troy Athens Regional with an all-around score of 37.15. She won vault that day with a 9.5.
Christina Shabet, Troy junior: She also is a favorite this season after finishing seventh in 2012 with a score of 36.975. Shabet won her Regional with a 38.375, 1.2 better than the rest of the competition, and with first places on beam (9.5), floor (9.825) and bars (9.7).
Emma Abessinio, Grosse Pointe United senior: She competed in the Division 2 Final in two events last season, but should push for a strong all-around finish this weekend. She won her Regional with a score of 36.625, which included wins on floor (9.55), beam (9.275) and bars (8.9).
Presley Allison, Grand Ledge junior: She’s due to finish first soon after placing third both of her first two high school seasons. She was second to teammate Lauren Clark at the Rockford Regional with a score of 37.575 and won bars (9.45) and beam (9.675).
Lauren Clark, Grand Ledge senior: She should be the Division 2 individual favorite after finishing runner-up by five hundredths of a point last season with a score of 37.225. She won her Regional last week with a score of 37.800 and with first places on vault (9.6) and floor (9.5).
Marie Clark, Troy Athens/Auburn Hills Avondale sophomore: Top-five finishes in three events led to a Regional championship last weekend. Clark scored 35.500 in the win.
Erica Lucas, Canton junior: Last season’s Division 2 MHSAA vault champion won that event again at last week’s Regional with a score of 9.35. But she also finished second all-around at the Regional with a score of 35.875, and should contend for that title this weekend.
Andrea Merlotti, Salem senior: She should move up quite a bit after finishing 21st in the Division 2 all-around at last season’s Finals with a score of 33.625. She finished third at her Regional with a 35.800, with top-four finishes on three apparatuses.
Karry Modolo, Freeland senior: She won the Mason Regional by nearly a point with a score of 36.200, with wins on beam (9.3) and vault (9.2). She finished 19th at the MHSAA Final last season with a score of 34.050.
PHOTO: Pinckney senior Ashley Hextall competes during last season's MHSAA Division 2 Final. She'll move up to Division 1 this weekend. (Click to see more at 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.