Gymnastics is among a handful of sports that fell just shy of completing a year ago because of COVID-19 – and so many have been looking forward to this weekend’s MHSAA Finals at Rockford High School for more than just these last few months.
A couple of major notes can help us rewind and fast forward after missing out in 2020.
On the team side, Farmington United will compete for its third straight championship and sixth total – which would tie it for most won at a Lower Peninsula or unified (both peninsulas) championship meet.
Individually, Grosse Pointe United senior Cate Gagnier will attempt to close her high school career by adding a Division 1 championship to her title earned as a freshman.
Team competition begins at 4 p.m. Friday, with individual competition in both Divisions 1 and 2 beginning at noon Saturday. The meets both days will be streamed live, with subscription, on MHSAA.tv. Below is a glance at a number of contenders, both team and individual, who could work into the mix this weekend. (Click for more including the Team Finals rotation.)
Farmington United – With no Finals in 2020, Farmington United retains the title of two-time reigning champion after finishing first in 2018 and 2019. The team is coming off a Regional championship as it edged Bloomfield Hills by less than two tenths of a point with a score of 142.075.
Grand Ledge – The lone record holder with five Lower Peninsula/unified Finals championships after winning six straight from 2008-13, Grand Ledge could find itself in position for its first top-two finish since coming in second in 2014. The Comets scored 145.650 to win their Regional by more than 3½ points.
Jackson Area – The only Regional runner-up on this list, Jackson missed a championship last weekend by five hundredths of a point after posting vault and floor exercise team scores both over 37 on the way to a 146.025 total. Jackson is seeking its first team Finals title.
Livonia Stevenson – The Spartans won their Regional championship by just more than half a point ahead of Livonia Red with a final score of 144.475 and team scores of 36 or higher on vault, floor exercise and balance beam. Stevenson is seeking its first Finals championship as well.
Rockford/Sparta – With a 38.050 team balance beam score, Rockford/Sparta just edged Jackson at their Regional with a final score of 146.075. The program won three straight titles from 2015-17 and finished runner-up to Farmington in 2019.
Avery Boyk, Livonia Red junior – Boyk heads to the Finals coming off a Regional title with a 37.725 all-around score. She won the uneven bars with a 9.675 and tied for second on floor exercise (9.45).
Isabella Dyer, Fraser senior – Dyer scored just shy of 36 (35.975) to finish third at her Regional, with two third places and a tie for first on vault (9.3.). She was the Regional all-around runner-up as a junior and sixth in Division 1 at the Finals as a sophomore.
MaKenna Fedrigo, Livonia Stevenson senior – Fedrigo finished third all-around at her Regional for the second-straight season, this time with a 36.825 score that included a runner-up finish (9.3) on vault. She finished 11th in the Division 1 Finals all-around as a sophomore.
Cara Fries, Jackson Area sophomore – Fries, a student at Jackson Lumen Christi, added a third-place Regional all-around finish last weekend (36.775) to her runner-up Division 1 Regional finish a year ago. She won the vault at Rockford with a 9.6.
Cate Gagnier, Grosse Pointe United senior – Gagnier will look at add a second Finals all-around championship to the one she won as a freshman and the third place she earned as a sophomore. She tied for first all-around at her Regional with a 36.4 which included second places on beam (9.125) and floor (9.4).
Abi Grimm, Jackson Area senior – Grimm, who attends Grass Lake and competed all-around at the 2019 Division 1 Finals, just missed earning a return in all-around last season but qualified this time with a 36.8 runner-up score at the Rockford Regional. Her score included second places on beam and floor.
Lizzie Maurer, Grand Ledge senior – The Comets standout posted the highest Division 1 all-around score at any Regional, 37.900, improving from a third-place all-around Regional finish a year ago. She was first on bars (9.35), beam (9.425) and floor (9.75) and second on vault (9.375). Maurer was fourth all-around at the 2019 Division 1 Finals.
Morgan Ruffing, Livonia Red sophomore – She just missed a Regional title last weekend finishing second to Boyk with a 37.275 all-around after also finishing Regional runner-up a year ago. Ruffing was second on beam with a 9.5.
Katelyn O’Brien, Northville senior – Paced in part by a third place on bars (9.325), O’Brien was fourth all-around at her Regional with a 36.75 – the same finish as in 2020 but scoring nearly a point higher. She was the Division 1 Finals all-around runner-up in 2019.
Lacey Scheid, Rockford/Sparta sophomore – Scheid will enter her first Finals coming off an all-around Regional title after scoring 37.300 and winning bars (9.150) and beam (9.675).
Nicola Sellis, South Lyon senior – Sellis finished second on beam (9.1) on the way to placing third all-around (36.075) at her Regional. She qualified for the Finals in bars, beam and floor as a junior.
Maeve Wright, Bloomfield Hills junior – Wright improved from fourth all-around at last year’s Regional to tying Gagnier for the championship last weekend with a 36.4. She won floor (9.6) and beam (9.575)
Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge sophomore – Yaney finished second all-around only to teammate Maurer, with a 36.45 all-around last weekend. She placed at least fourth on every apparatus with a first place on vault (9.4).
Sherry Zhong, Novi junior – Zhong won the floor at her Regional with a 9.5 to also break 36 points all-around (36.275) and finish fifth last weekend behind the Livonia gymnasts and O’Brien.
Maya Anderson, Rockford/Sparta sophomore – Anderson improved from seventh all-around at her Regional last season to third this time with a 36.050. She won bars (8.575) and was second on floor (9.4) and beam (9.375).
Rachel Briggs, Holt senior – A bars qualifier last season, she’ll compete all-around this weekend after finishing fifth with a 35.7 at her Regional that included a second place on bars (8.95).
Nicole Graham, Huron Valley United senior – Graham has qualified for her fourth Finals all-around after finishing 17th in Division 2 as a freshman and third as a sophomore. She repeated as Regional runner-up last weekend, this time with a 36.525 that included wins on floor (9.35) and beam (9.6) and second places on vault (9.2) and bars (tied – 8.375).
Sarah Litz, Fowlerville junior – A Finals Division 2 all-around qualifier as a freshman and sophomore, Litz earned another opportunity with a second-place Regional finish last weekend. Her 35.875 included second places on floor (9.35) and beam (9.225).
Ivy McDonald, Lowell sophomore – McDonald improved from fourth at last season’s Regional to second all-around last week with a 36.125 and third places on beam and bars.
Emma Olds, Grand Ledge junior – After qualifying only on beam last season, Olds won bars (9.0) and vault (9.175) to finish first all-around at her Regional with a 35.95.
Tess Piper, Holt senior – Last season’s Regional all-around champion missed a repeat by just two tenths of a point, finishing fourth last weekend with a 35.75 including a win on floor with a 9.45.
Raimi Soerries, Fowlerville junior – Soerries was a bars qualifier last season but will compete all-around after finishing third at her Regional with a 35.775 that included a win on beam (9.3).
Sydney Schultz, Farmington United senior – The sixth-place finisher at the 2019 Finals all-around in this division, Schultz repeated as Regional champ last week with a 36.7 including first places on vault (9.5) and bars (8.975) and a second place on floor (9.225).
Ella Seale, Plymouth senior – Seale won her Regional all-around by a full point at 36.375 with first places on bars (8.925) and beam (9.475). She also was the Regional champ as a junior and took 18th at the Finals all-around as a freshman and tied for 17th as a sophomore.
Apryl Smith, Linden/Fenton/Lake Fenton senior – Smith, a student at Linden, finished sixth at her Regional with a 35.675, less than three tenths of a point from winning, and she was second at her Regional a year ago. She also competed in the Finals all-around as a sophomore.
Anna Tracey, Rockford/Sparta junior – Another Rams standout, she won last week’s Regional with a 36.550 all-around that included a first place on beam (9.85) and second on bars (8.55). She had finished third all-around at her Regional as a sophomore.
PHOTO: Grosse Pointe United senior Cate Gagnier competes on balance beam during the 2019 MHSAA Division 1 Finals. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Tracey finished her senior gymnastics season this past winter with one of the most successful Finals weekends possible. On Friday, she helped Rockford to its first team championship since 2017. At Saturday’s Individual Finals, Tracey earned the Division 2 title with an all-around score of 36.325.
The Rockford standout previously had helped the Rams to runner-up team gymnastics finishes in 2019 and 2021, and had placed second individually in Division 2 as a junior as well. She also ran cross country and track during her high school career, including at MHSAA Cross Country Finals as both a sophomore and senior. She’s continuing at Michigan State University, where she’s studying human biology with a minor in Spanish.
"I'm really thankful we live in a time where women have the same opportunities to compete in athletics, because sports has shaped me into the person I am today – a competitive, driven and disciplined person. The lessons I've learned from competing are irreplaceable, and I just couldn't imagine who I'd be without sports present in my life. The lessons I've learned and the characteristics I've developed played a huge role in my daily life and will continue to play a role in the future with whatever obstacles come my way.
"And I think the opportunity to compete as a female athletes is more than just winning medals and trophies. To me it's more the opportunity to learn valuable lessons and shape yourself into the person you want to be."
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
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