Preview: Loaded Lineups Face Off Again

March 9, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Rockford/Sparta enjoyed quite the MHSAA Finals weekend in 2015, claiming the first team championship since 1989, on its home floor, and the Division 1 individual title the following afternoon.

With their top gymnasts including that individual champion and another favorite back this weekend, the Rams arguably are favorites to pull off a repeat performance – although 2014 champion Canton has a similarly veteran lineup, and last season’s Division 1 individual runner-up and third place finishers plus the two-time reigning Division 2 champion all will compete for the same title this time.

Team competition begins at 2 p.m. Friday at Rockford, with the final rotation scheduled for 6:20 p.m. Individual competition in both Divisions 1 and 2 begins at noon Saturday. 

Read on for a glance at a number of contenders who should be in the hunt, and click for rotation schedules for both days of competition.

Team contenders

Canton – Last season’s runner-up and the 2014 champion has five straight top-two finishes at the MHSAA Team Final. The veteran Chiefs won their Regional with a score of 146.425, the second-highest statewide last weekend. They also won the White Lake Lakeland Invitational ahead of a strong group. Canton took the second-through-fifth places at the Division 1 Regional with Katie Dickson, Kelsea Kemosek, Jana Hilditch and Stephanie Cox and got a third in Division 2 from Hailey Hodgson and a fifth from Rachel Socha.

Grand Rapids Forest Hills United – Forest Hills fell one spot back at last season’s Final from fifth in 2014 to sixth, but was fewer than two points from third place. A 144.825 Regional score was second to Rockford/Sparta but third statewide last weekend, and Forest Hills also won a dual meet against the Rams this season. Seniors Hannah Esterman, Cassidy Terhorst and Christine Byam all scored 36 or higher all-around at the Division 1 Regional.

Farmington – Last season’s fifth-place finisher was fewer than two points out of third as well, and won its Regional last week with a score of 144.675. Farmington is seeking its first championship since a three-peat for Tri-Farmington from 2004-06, and finished third at White Lake Lakeland behind Canton and Howell. Farmington has a pair of Division 1 seniors in Brooke Rabban and Carina Wright – Wright finished 10th all-around last season – and a strong Division 2 group.

Howell – The Highlanders finished fourth last season, less than a point out of third, and beat 2015 third-place Grand Ledge in winning last weekend’s Regional with a score of 143.65. Howell finished ahead of Farmington at Lakeland and won the Lakes division of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association before finishing fourth at the all-KLAA meet – and is a contender despite having only one Division 1 individual in senior Kirsten Phifer but also a strong group of Division 2 contenders.

Rockford/Sparta – The Rams won last season’s championship by 1.75 points over Canton. With a number of their top gymnasts back, led by seniors Madi Myers and reigning Division 1 champ Morgan Korf, they have to be the favorite – and especially after posting a statewide high 148.950 to win the Regional. Rockford/Sparta also won the Lowell Invitational, Kenowa Hills Invitational and Canton Invitational, ahead of Canton at two events and Forest Hills United twice as well.

Division 1

Christine Byam, Forest Hills United junior – Competing against the one-two punch from Rockford/Sparta, Byam finished third at the Regional all-around (37.075) and won the vault (9.350).

Nicole Coughlin, Rockford/Sparta junior – She earned the sixth-place all-around spot at Kenowa Hills (36.200) but also was strong as a sophomore tying for fifth all-around at the Division 1 Final.

Katie Dickson, Canton sophomore – She finished 12th in Division 1 and second among Canton gymnasts a year ago, and led a strong group of Division 1 Regional finishers last weekend taking second (36.500) in her home gym with a second place on vault.

Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge senior – The Comets’ standout has finished second and third, respectively, in Division 1 the last two seasons, missing out by only 0.375 points a year ago, and owns five individual event MHSAA titles. She posted a 38.075 at her Regional and won beam (9.500), bars (9.550) and vault (9.725).  

Morgan Korf, Rockford/Sparta senior – The reigning Division 1 all-around champion finished first last year despite not placing higher than third in an individual event; she could add titles in a few of those this time too after finishing second at the Regional all-around (37.775) and second on beam and bars.

Margo Mekjian, Brighton senior – After finishing eighth at the Division 1 Final last season, Mekjian should be in the mix at the top coming off an impressive Regional; she was second all-around to Hogan (37.200) and won floor (9.550).

Haley Metz, Plymouth senior – She should make a giant jump this weekend after finishing 15th at the MHSAA Finals in Division 1 last year. Metz won the Regional all-around at Canton with a score of 36.975 and was first on beam (9.375) and bars (9.450).

Madi Myers, Rockford/Sparta senior – Injuries derailed her postseasons early in her career, but she played a huge role in last year’s team championship and finished ninth in Division 1. She might be the individual favorite this time after finishing just ahead of Korf at the Regional with an all-around of 38.275 and first places on floor (9.725), beam (9.550) and bars (9.725).

Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe United junior – Last season’s Division 1 runner-up by only 75 thousandths of a point, Nguyen finished among the top 10 on all four apparatus and should make a run at a number of titles. She won the all-around at Walled Lake Central's Regional with a 37.700 and was first on floor (9.400), beam (9.400) and bars (9.700).

Kirsten Phifer, Howell senior – One of only two seniors on the Highlanders’ roster, Phifer finished 11th all-round in Division 1 last season and third at last weekend’s Regional with a score of 36.525.

Brianne Smith, Port Huron freshman – Smith is set up for a strong high school career coming into her first Finals after finishing second to Nguyen at their Regional (36.300) and winning vault (9.300).

Cassidy Terhorst, Forest Hills United senior – The two-time reigning Division 2 champion moved up for her final season and took fourth at the Regional (36.300) at Kenowa Hills.

Division 2

Elisa Bills, Farmington sophomore – After finishing seventh at the Division 2 Final as a freshman, Bills is poised to move up coming off a Regional all-around title at Walled Lake Central (36.400) that included wins on floor (9.275) and bars (9.425).

Jacquelyn Farquhar, Farmington junior – She tied for ninth all-around at last season’s Final and also should make a move up this weekend. She finished second to teammate Bills all-around (35.525) and on bars at the Regional.

Maura Fitzpatrick, Lowell sophomore – She made the Finals on floor last season but is back all-around with a runner-up finish at Kenowa Hills (35.300) that included a first place on vault (9.175).

Hailey Hodgson, Canton senior – She’s finished fourth and fifth, respectively, at the last two Finals and came in third (35.725) behind Rhoad and Weak (see below) at this year’s Regional after two straight all-around titles at that level of the tournament.

Blake Hutchings, Linden/Fenton/Lake Fenton sophomore – A big jump is anticipated after Hutchings was 20th at last season’s Final; she won her Regional last week with a 36.650 and with first places on floor (9.525) and bars (8.950) and a second on beam.

Corah Kaufman, Lowell junior – The Red Arrows’ Regional champion last week entered this conversation with a winning 35.325 and a first place on bars (8.975) – she also took third on bars at last year’s Final.

Brianna Rhoad, Livonia Blue senior – After finishing sixth at the Final last year, Rhoad should be a favorite coming off a Regional championship at Canton against a strong field. She scored a 36.525 and won floor (9.675), beam (9.250) and finished second on vault.

Alyssa Walker, Howell junior – She followed up a Regional title and fourth-place Finals finish in 2015 by taking second to Hutchings last week with a score of 36.025.

Jessica Weak, Livonia Blue junior – Eighteenth at the Final in 2015 and eighth in 2014, she finished second to Rhoad at that strong Regional last weekend (35.950) and won bars (9.175).

Kacy Wolfram, Howell junior – She finished fourth at her Regional (35.500) but won the vault (9.55) and was eighth all-around at last season’s Final. 

PHOTOS: Rockford/Sparta's Morgan Korf competes on the beam en route to winning last season's Division 1 title. (Click to see more at

Title IX at 50: Anna Tracey's Story

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 20, 2022

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.

Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights

Sept. 13: Lola Korpi's Story - Read
Sept. 6:
Meah Bajt's Story - Read
Aug. 30: 
Morgan Brunner's Story - Read
Aug. 23:
Ava Brizard's Story - Read
Aug. 16:
Paige Miller's Story - Read
Aug. 9:
Gracie Olsen's Story - Read
Aug. 2:
Maddy Stern's Story - Read
July 26:
Reese Miller's Story - Read
July 19:
Macy Irelan's Story - Read
July 12:
Bridget Boczar's Story - Read
July 5:
Ella Boose's Story - Read
June 28:
Kaila Jackson's Story - Read
June 23: 
We Celebrate Our Past, We Look Forward to Our Future - Read
June 21: Assistant Directors Have Been Difference Makers - Read
June 14: 
Girls Lacrosse Finals Officials Set Empowering Example - Read
June 7: 
From Gymnastics to Wrestling, Girls Opportunities Continue to Grow - Read
May 31: 
Mumford Sprinter's Magnificent 2006 Final Remains Unmatched - Read

May 24: Scane, Whiteside Alone on 400-Goal, 500-Point Girls Lacrosse Lists - Read
May 17: Over 8 Days in 1988, Pair of Champs Set No. 1 Singles Standard - Read
May 10: 
Portage Central's Tarpley Scores as State's Superstar, U.S. Soccer Hero - Read
May 3: 
Prychitko 'Legend In Her Own Time,' Legend for All Time - Read
April 26: 
Braddock vs. Verdun Still Striding Among All-Time Sprint Matchups - Read
April 19: 
Holmes' Strikeout Record Rarely Approached, May Be Unbreakable - Read
April 12: 
Anticipation High as 45,000 Girls Return to Spring Sports - Read
April 5: 
Regina's Laffey Retiring as Definition of Legendary - Read
March 29: 
Edison's Whitehorn named 2022 Miss Basketball - Read
March 22: 
Carney-Nadeau Sets Girls Hoops Standard with 78-Win Streak - Read
March 15: 
Binder Among Voices Telling Our Story on MHSAA Network - Read
March 8: 
28 Years, Thousands of Cheers - Read
March 1: 
Kearsley Rolls On Among Girls Bowling's Early Successes - Read
Feb. 22: Marquette Ties Record for Swim & Dive Finals Success - Read
Feb. 15: Jaeger's 2004 Winter Run Created Lasting Connection - Read
Feb. 8: Marian's Cicerone to Finish Among All-Time Elite - Read
Feb. 1: WISL Award Honors Builders of State's Girls Sports Tradition - Read
Jan. 25: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow - Read
Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: 
Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: 
Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: 
Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: 
Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: 
Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: 
Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: 
Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: 
Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: 
Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read