By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The Canton gymnastics team truly was a feel-good story in 2014 as it claimed its first MHSAA championship after three straight runner-up finishes, while ending Grand Ledge’s run of six straight titles.
The Chiefs are a likely favorite again Friday at Rockford High School – but nine of 12 other finalists are hoping to follow Canton and become the next first-time MHSAA Finals champion.
Team competition begins at 2 p.m. Friday, with the final rotation scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Individual competition in both Divisions 1 and 2 begins at noon Saturday.
Two-time Division 1 individual champion Christina Shabet graduated from Troy last spring. But Grand Ledge junior Rachel Hogan is back after finishing runner-up, and reigning Division 2 champion Cassidy Terhorst is back as only a junior. Read on for more on both and others who also should be in the hunt for individual titles, plus a number of teams that should be in contention Friday. Click for rotation schedules for both days of competition.
Canton – The reigning MHSAA champion won the most competitive Regional last weekend with the top Regional score anywhere this winter, 146.500, despite losing top 2014 all-around finisher Jocelyn Moraw to an injury midseason. The Chiefs still boast three Division 1 contenders and a Division 2 favorite among a strong group of contributors.
Farmington – Last season’s third-place Finals finisher also was a Regional champion at 141.600 and will return this weekend with four of six who competed in last year’s Final, along with a top freshman. The Falcons finished second to Canton at White Lake Lakeland’s Invitational in January.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills United – Last season’s fifth-place finisher should be in good position for another top finish with a trio of strong Division 1 gymnasts and the Division 2 reigning champion leading the way. Forest Hills Central finished second to Rockford at their Regional, scoring 143.925.
Grosse Pointe United – The Blue Devils are an intriguing possibility among teams seeking a first MHSAA championship. They finished second to Canton at their Regional at 144.375 after finishing fourth at last season’s Final – and return their top three all-around competitors from the 2013-14 team.
Plymouth – The Wildcats finished third to Canton and Grosse Pointe South at their Regional, but scored 143.500. Plymouth returns this weekend with both gymnasts who competed all-around when the team finished sixth a year ago.
Rockford/Sparta – This season’s host won its Regional by a point with a score of 144.925 and took four of the top six in the Division 1 all-around after missing the Finals last season. The Rams have won the MHSAA team title once – in 1989 – and have the star power at the top to make a run. They won the Canton Invitational in February ahead of both the host Chiefs and Grosse Pointe South.
Katie Fabian, Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart junior – Went from competing on one apparatus at the Regional as a sophomore to winning the all-around this season in 35.125 and taking first on beam in 9.150.
Mary Grace Fries, Jackson Lumen Christi senior – A Regional champion scoring 37.300, she could make a jump from last season’s eighth-place Finals finish. Fries also won the Regional title on beam at 9.525.
Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge junior – Her team might not be among the favorites this time, but Hogan is the likely contender to catch in the Division 1 individual competition after she finished second by a tenth of a point a year ago. Hogan won vault and tied for first on bars at the 2014 Final, won floor at the 2013 Final, and claimed last weekend’s Regional title at 38.825 – with a 10.000 on vault, 9.500 on bars, 9.550 on beam and 9.725 on floor to finish first on all four.
Morgan Korf, Rockford/Sparta junior – Finished 11th and 18th in Division 1 her first two years of high school, respectively, and should surge after putting up a 37.175 all-around at her Regional to finish second to Hogan. She also took second in vault (9.600) and beam (9.550).
Allison Kunz, Canton senior – Finished second in the all-around at 37.175 in a loaded Regional, winning bars (9.625) and taking second on floor (9.650) and vault (9.300). She did win the all-around at the White Lake Lakeland Invitational at 37.975.
Margo Mekjian, Brighton junior – Finished second to Fries at their Regional with an all-around score of 36.400 and won the vault in 9.600. She finished 12th at last season’s Final among a strong group of contenders who all broke 36.000.
Haley Metz, Plymouth sophomore – Won her Regional in a school-record 36.950 and finished second on bars in 9.425. She took 13th in the Finals all-around as a freshman.
Madi Myers, Rockford/Sparta junior – The only Sparta athlete on the Rockford/Sparta co-op team, Myers finally will compete in a Finals after injuries derailed her first two opportunities. She finished third all-around (36.825) at her Regional and took second on floor (9.550), but won her Regional as a freshman.
Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe United sophomore – After finishing fifth all-around in the Final last season, took first at her Regional last weekend with a score of 37.575. She also won the vault in 9.500.
Maria Nguyen, Grosse Pointe United senior – Finished less than a point behind her sister, Isabelle (above), to take fourth at the Regional in 36.725 after finishing 14th all-around at last season’s Final.
Carina Wright, Farmington junior – Finished sixth all-around at last season’s Final and third as a freshman. Wright placed second at her Regional last weekend with a score of 34.675 and won vault after also taking second all-around at her Regional as a sophomore.
Elisa Bills, Farmington freshman – The Falcons’ first-year standout finished second all-around at her Regional with a 35.000 and a pair of first places in the bars (8.800) and vault (9.000).
Lauren DeHaan, Lowell senior – Tied for 12th all-around at last season’s Final and should be a contender despite finishing fifth (35.575) in last weekend’s most competitive Division 2 Regional field, at Kenowa Hills.
Hailey Hodgson, Canton junior – Won her Regional in 36.000 after tying a teammate for the Regional title in 2014. Hodgson finished first on floor (9.200), beam (9.050) and vault (9.300) and should be in the hunt Saturday after finishing fourth all-around a year ago.
Kelly Momber, Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills/West Catholic/Grandville senior – Won the all-around at her home gym with a score of 37.100 while taking first on beam (9.475) and floor (9.660). Momber tied for 12th all-around at last season’s Final.
Brianna Rhoad, Livonia Blue junior – Finished seventh and 15th in her first two MHSAA Finals, respectively, and should move up after taking second at last weekend’s Regional with a 35.775.
Marissa Schuh, Farmington senior – Came in 14th all-around at last season’s Final but should also move up significantly after taking first in the all-around at her Regional at 35.475 and winning beam with a 9.200.
Tiana Seville, Grand Ledge junior – After missing last season with an injury, Seville could finish this winter well after taking third at her Regional with a 36.125. She was first on vault at 9.500 and should be a favorite on that apparatus.
Cassidy Terhorst, Grand Rapids Forest Hills United junior – The reigning Division 2 all-around champion finished second at her Regional with a 36.825 but easily could push back to the top this weekend. She finished first on bars at the Regional with a 9.300 but can score high on various skills – she took three second places in winning last year’s Final.
Alyssa Walker, Howell sophomore – Led the Highlanders to their first team Regional title and won the individual all-around in 36.075. Perhaps more impressively, Walker also finished first in a loaded field at the Kensington Lakes Activities Association end-of-season meet.
Jessica Weak, Livonia Blue sophomore – Another top competitor from the strong KLAA, Weak finished eighth all-around at last season’s Final but was third at her Regional last weekend with a 35.725. She also took second on floor at the Regional with a 9.150.
Kacy Wolfram, Howell sophomore – With Walker, also played a big part in Howell’s first team Regional title and finished second all-around with a 35.325. She’ll should be in the mix on vault after winning that apparatus with a 9.500.
PHOTO: Canton’s Hailey Hodgson, here on balance beam, helped her team to its first MHSAA championship last season.
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.