Performance: GP United's Isabelle Nguyen

February 27, 2017

Isabelle Nguyen
Grosse Pointe North senior – Gymnastics

After taking fifth, second and second, respectively, in the MHSAA Finals Division 1 competition her first three years of competition, Grosse Pointe United’s Nguyen faced high expectations heading into her final season of high school gymnastics – and has met them all. Nguyen scored an all-around 37.975 to win Division 1 at the Great Lakes League Championships on Feb. 18 and earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week” for Feb. 13-19, and she’s won all of her invitationals this season, including the prestigious Canton event that yearly draws the top competition from all over the state.

Nguyen won on all four apparatuses at the league meet, and also posted a 37.150 all-around Wednesday against Canton. She holds every record for Grosse Pointe United, and next will lead her team into the Regional on Saturday at Walled Lake Central. Like many gymnasts, Nguyen also dives – she qualified for the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals in the fall and just missed making the final round of competition. She also will return for her third season of lacrosse this spring after sitting out last season with an injury.

Injuries also will keep Nguyen from pursuing college gymnastics, but she’s got other goals set. She will attend Wayne State University and study computer technology after cultivating an interest in coding during a technology class she took as a junior at North. She carries a 3.5 grade-point average and also is interested in coaching when her competing days are done – which likely will be in two weeks, and potentially after she celebrates a Division 1 all-around title.  

Coach Kristin Remillet said: “Watching her success over the past four years has been such a fun experience for me as a coach. It’s great to see a deserving, hardworking young lady like Izzy get the recognition she deserves each and every meet. As an individual competitor, she is peaking this season, her senior year, and has won the all-around title in every single invitational she has competed in this season. … She’s a great all-around gymnast who is a standout competitor in every event. That’s really Izzy’s strength; she is so well-rounded across all four apparatuses, it makes her tough to beat in the all-around competition. … Every time Izzy competes for our team in a large-scale meet, I’m impressed with her focus and her ability to shine in times of pressure. Another of Izzy’s strengths that I’m very impressed with is her ability to lead others in our gym. She’s not just a phenomenal athlete, she is also a great teammate and friend. Whether you have been on the team with her for two years, or two weeks, she makes so many teammates feel comfortable, welcomed, and loves to help them improve as well.”

Performance Point: “Most of my (league) performance, I was pretty happy with; on beam, I haven’t been landing my skills lately, so I was pretty scared about that, but on bar I was pretty satisfied (because) I almost had a fall but I was able to save it,” Nguyen said. “Overall, I was really proud of myself. … I still want (to win MHSAA Finals). It still makes me want to work hard seeing how close other girls were to me. I’m still pushing myself in practice, getting ready for Regionals and states. I’ve just been trying to work on hitting everything.”

Taking flight: “My favorite (apparatus) is uneven bars. I feel like I’m just more free. I feel like I’m flying. When I first started learning it, just started giants, I started liking it all. It’s not something I’m scared of; on beam I’m more scared of doing stuff than on bars.” 

Sport for every season: “It’s mostly keeping me in shape. Diving is the flipping; I just like flipping a lot. In lacrosse, I like to meet new people too who like other sports, and (I like) the running. I’m kinda a fan of running.”

More than tough enough: “Last year, the week of states, I hurt my knee. I have extra bones in my feet, and I just hurt my ankle. … I’d say (gymnasts) are pretty tough. A lot of people don’t think we’re strong. It’s because they think we’re small; they think we’re weak. It’s really not (true). I love gymnastics. I just wanted to keep doing it. I knew I had to take breaks and everything, but it’s something I really like.”

Call me Coach (next year): “Right now I coach little kids, just for fun, but my (high school) coach is planning to have me coach next year if I can. I like seeing new girls like the sport that I like, and it makes me happy helping everyone so they can get better.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Grosse Pointe United's Isabelle Nguyen competes on uneven parallel bars this season. (Middle) Nguyen performs on balance beam at last season's MHSAA Finals. (Photos courtesy of Grosse Pointe United gymnastics.)

MHSAA Winter Sports Start with Extended Basketball Schedules, New Wrestling Weights

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 13, 2022

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:

Boys Basketball
Districts – March 6, 8, 10
Regionals – March 13, 15
Quarterfinals – March 21
Semifinals – March 23-24
Finals – March 25

Girls Basketball
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

Competitive Cheer
District – Feb. 17-18
Regionals – Feb. 25
Finals – March 2-3

Regionals – March 4
Finals – March 10-11

Ice Hockey
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.