Preview: Reigning Champs Set High Bar
March 7, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Farmington United could be on the verge of one of the most dominating Finals weekends in MHSAA gymnastics history.
The co-operative program with athletes from Farmington, North Farmington and Farmington Hills Harrison won its first team title last season since finishing a string of three straight in 2006, and enters Friday’s team competition at Rockford High School having won all of its meets this winter.
Saturday’s individual competitions provide similar opportunities. Farmington United gymnasts Elena Vargo and Kacey Noseworthy won Division 1 and 2 Regional titles, respectively, last week.
But there are plenty of challengers – like Rockford/Sparta, which won three straight team titles before finishing second a year ago. Rams senior Reagan Ammon posted the highest Division 2 Regional score of last weekend and will make a run at that title, while Grosse Pointe United sophomore Cate Gagnier is the reigning Division 1 all-around champion and knows the competition after finishing second to Vargo at their Regional meet.
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.
Below is a glance at a number of contenders, both team and individual, who could work into the mix this weekend. Click for rotation schedules for both days of competition.
Farmington United – The reigning champion is undefeated this season and won its Regional at White Lake Lakeland by 8.4 points with a 148.450 – also the highest Regional score regardless of site by more than three points. Comparatively, Farmington won last year’s Finals championship by two tenths of a point scoring 144.750. Four of seven scorers at last season’s Finals are back, with wins at the annual Jeanne Carruss Invitational at Lakeland by 2.5 points, the Rockford Flip-Flip Invitational by just under three points and at the Canton Invitational by more than three. Junior Elena Vargo is a Division 1 individual favorite, and Farmington also qualified five Division 2 all-around competitors for Saturday.
Fowlerville – This co-operative program, which also includes gymnasts from Byron, Pinckney and Perry, won its first Regional title last week to advance to the Finals as a team for the first time. The Gladiators’ 143.075 was the fourth-highest Regional score across the state, an exciting jump from sixth place and 138.025 a year ago. Fowlerville has three Division 2 qualifiers and one in Division 1 competing all-around Saturday.
Livonia Blue – Blue improved from 10th at the 2017 Final to fourth last season and won its Regional last week with a 143.450 – the third-highest Regional score statewide. Blue was undefeated in dual meets this winter and finished second to Farmington at the Carruss Invitational and third at the Canton Invitational. The team has two qualifiers in Division 1 all-around and one in Division 2 competing Saturday.
Rockford/Sparta – The Rams won three straight team championships from 2015-17 and could provide the biggest challenge again to Farmington after finishing third at last season’s Final, only three tenths of a point off the lead. Rockford/Sparta won the Lowell Invitational and Kenowa Hills Invitational and took second to Farmington at both its Flip-Flop Invitational and the Canton Invitational. The Rams won their Regional by more than five points with the state’s second highest score of the weekend, 145.325. Five gymnasts will compete all-around in Division 2 on Saturday.
Ariana Adams, Hartland junior – Adams finished second at the Regional at Grand Ledge with a 35.375 all-around and second places on bars (8.8) and beam (8.85). She tied for 14th on bars at the 2018 Division 1 Finals.
Hannah Biesbrock, Grand Rapids Forest Hills junior – Biesbrock repeated as all-around champion at the Regional at Kenowa Hills with a score of 35.575 and first places on bars (8.925) and floor (9.200). She finished eighth all-around at the 2018 Division 1 Finals.
Aniessa Conway, Livonia Blue senior – Conway will compete at her third Division 1 Finals and finished third all-around a year ago while taking first on bars. She finished fifth among a strong group at her Regional at Plymouth last weekend with a score of 35.025, again winning bars (9.150) and also floor (9.400).
Isabella Dyer, Fraser sophomore – After qualifying for the Finals in two events last season, Dyer will compete in the all-around after following up championship contenders Elena Vargo and Cate Gagnier at the White Lake Lakeland Regional with a 36.650. She tied for ninth on vault at last year’s Finals.
Makenna Fedrigo, Livonia Blue sophomore – Fedrigo finished 14th in the Division 1 all-around at last year’s Finals as a freshman, with a third place on bars. She will return as a Regional champion, coming in first at Plymouth with a 36.150.
Cate Gagnier, Grosse Pointe United sophomore – Gagnier closed the first year of her high school career as the Division 1 individual champion, winning vault and beam on the way to an all-around 37.225. She finished second at the Plymouth Regional last week to Vargo, scoring a 37.275 while winning beam (9.625).
Jessica Huddleston, Livonia Red junior – The all-around runner-up at the Plymouth Regional scored a 35.975 to miss the championship by just 0.175 points. She took second on bars and third on beam.
Maddie Girard, Jackson senior – A Division 2 Finals qualifier on beam last season, Girard moved up to Division 1 and finished second all-around at the Kenowa Hills Regional with a 35.075. She won beam (9.125) and was second on bars.
Lizzie Maurer, Grand Ledge sophomore – She improved from fourth at last year’s Regional at her school to first last week, scoring a 37.125 with first places on floor (9.475), beam (9.425) and bars (9.075). She finished fifth all-around at the 2018 Division 1 Finals.
Katelyn O’Brien, Northville sophomore – O’Brien placed third all-around at the Plymouth Regional with a 35.925. She finished second on vault and fifth on beam and floor.
Ashlyn Shudick, Hartland junior – Shudick finished third all-around at Grand Ledge with a 35.225, less than two tenths of a point behind runner-up teammate Adams. Shudick took second on floor, tied for fourth on vault and tied for fifth on beam.
Maisie Swafford, Plymouth sophomore – After finishing 13th all-around at last season’s Finals as a freshman, Swafford will take a run at the top 10 after finishing fourth at the Plymouth Regional with a 35.375. She won the beam with a 9.625.
Elena Vargo, Farmington United junior – At the bottom of this group by alphabetical order, Vargo very well could finish at the top Saturday afternoon. She won the Lakeland Regional with a 38.200 all-around including first places on floor (9.775), bars (9.475) and vault (9.675).
Reagan Ammon, Rockford senior – Ammon finished first among five teammates and all Division 2 gymnasts at the Regional at Kenowa Hills with an all-around 37.050 including first places on beam (9.275) and bars (9.100). She finished fifth all-around at the 2018 Division 2 Finals.
Morgan Case, Rockford junior – Case finished all-around runner-up at last year’s Division 2 Finals, scoring 36.825 and missing the title by a quarter of a point – although she did take first place on floor. She finished third all-around last week, scoring 35.600 while taking firsts on floor (9.550) and vault (9.400).
Ava Farquhar, Farmington United senior – After placing seventh all-around at last season’s Division 2 Finals, Farquhar will aim for one more strong finish after coming in fourth all-around at the Lakeland Regional with a 35.600. She tied for first at the Regional on beam (9.450).
Ashley Faulkner, Rockford junior – Faulkner improved from tied for 10th two years ago to sixth all-around at last season’s Division 2 Finals, and the climb could continue after she finished second at last week’s Regional only to Ammon. Faulkner scored 36.000, finishing second on bars and beam, and also is the reigning Division 2 Finals champ on bars.
Nicole Graham, Huron Valley sophomore – Graham was the only non-Farmington gymnast to qualify all-around from the Division 2 Regional at Plymouth, scoring a 36.175 to finish second while tying for first on beam (9.450). She finished 17th all-around at last season’s Division 2 Finals.
Lauren Hayden, Linden sophomore – Last year’s 19th-place all-around finisher at the Division 2 Finals could make a big jump after winning the all-around at the Grand Ledge Regional with a 35.675. She also won the beam (9.300) last week.
Isabelle Litz, Fowlerville junior – Litz competed on bars and vault at the 2018 Division 2 Finals, but will return as an all-around competitor. She finished second at the Grand Ledge Regional with a 35.600, just 75 hundredths of a point off the lead.
Sarah Litz, Fowlerville freshman – At her first Regional, Litz came in fourth all-around with a 35.500 and top-seven places on beam and floor.
Chantal Lokers, Rockford senior – Lokers has finished ninth and eighth, respectively, in the Division 2 all-around at the last two Finals. She came in fourth among teammates and overall at their Regional last week with a 35.505.
Kacey Noseworthy, Farmington United senior – Noseworthy tied for third all-around in Division 2 last season and is among favorites again coming off the Regional title at Lakeland. She scored 36.850 to win by more than six tenths of a point, taking first on floor (9.625) and bars (tied – 9.000).
Ella Seale, Plymouth sophomore – Seale finished 18th all-around at last year’s Division 2 Finals with two top-eight event places, and she was the only Division 2 gymnast to break 35 at the Plymouth Regional. She won with a 35.725 while taking first on beam (9.725).
Sydney Schultz, Farmington United sophomore – A freshman contributor to last year’s team title, Schultz also finished 12th in the Division 2 all-around and could move up as well this weekend. She finished third at the Lakeland Regional with a 35.975, taking first place in the vault (9.550).
Apryl Smith, Linden sophomore – After competing at last season’s Finals on just beam, Smith also will return this time in the all-around. She finished third at her Regional with a 35.525
PHOTO: A Rockford gymnast competes on the uneven parallel bars during a meet Feb. 11. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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