Preview: Returning Contenders Lead 2023 Championship Chase

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 10, 2023

Last season saw first-time MHSAA Gymnastics Finals individual champions in both divisions and a first-time-in-a-few-years team title winner – and several 2022 contenders will fill the field again this weekend at White Lake Lakeland.

Reigning team champion Rockford posted the state’s highest Regional score last weekend, and the top three Division 1 all-around finishers from last season’s Final also return along with the 2022 Division 2 runner-up .

Team competition begins at 4 p.m. today, with individual competition in both Divisions 1 and 2 beginning at noon Saturday. For information on purchasing tickets, Finals rotations for both days and Regional results, go to the Gymnastics page – and see below for some of the many contenders to watch:


Hartland: The Eagles claimed their Regional last weekend with a 142.350 and are pursuing their first Finals championship since 1999, after finishing ninth last season. They placed five of the top nine in Division 1 all-around at the Regional, led by fourth-place Delaney Gomolka.

Howell: The Highlanders were runners-up to Hartland last weekend led by the second and third-place finishers in Division 1 all-around – Kayla Forsyth and Maria Petru, respectively, on the way to a score of 142.05. Howell is seeking its first Finals team title and didn’t qualify last season but finished ninth in 2021.

Jackson Area: The 2021 champion finished eighth last season but should be in contention again after placing second to Rockford at last week’s Regional with a 143.525 – the third-highest team Regional score overall. The team placed the second, third and fourth-place Division 1 all-around finishers last week and the runner-up in Division 2.

Farmington United: Farmington is seeking its first team championship since winning back-to-back in 2018 and 2019, and finished 10th last season. The team won its Regional last week with a score of 142.400 and placed the top two in Division 2 all-around, plus received Division 2 wins on vault from Elena Anzivino and balance beam from all-around champ Grace Spencer and placed the top three on uneven parallel bars led by Bella Thibodeau.

Rockford: The Rams emerged from runner-up in 2021 to champion last season and have remained the team to chase with wins at every event this season including the Canton Invitational, which often serves as something of a preview of the Finals. They won their Regional last week by more than three points with a 146.675 led by Division 1 all-around champion Lacey Scheid and Division 2 all-around winner Hailey Hill, who topped a group of five who finished among the top nine in that division.

Salem: The Rocks are seeking a first team championship since 1993 and won their Regional last weekend with a 144.950 – 3½ points better than the field and four points higher than when they placed fifth at last season’s Final. Salem put 13 gymnasts in events last weekend and placed Katie Stewart and Emma Stewart first and second all-around, respectively, in Division 1 and Anna Barczyk second in Division 2.  

Division 1

Alyssa Budd, Jackson Area senior: After earning two top-10 Finals event places as a sophomore, she finished 10th all-around in Division 1 last season and should climb again after taking second at last week’s Regional with a 36.650 with second places on all four apparatus.

Kayla Forsyth, Howell senior: She’s an all-around contender after finishing second at her Regional with a 37.125, only 0.375 of a point off the lead and while winning bars (9.45) and tying for first on vault (9.625).

Allie Mattes, Grosse Pointe United sophomore: She debuted at the Finals last season with a 22nd-place all-around finish in Division 1, and she’s set to make a move after winning her Regional last week with a 34.250.

Maria Petru Howell junior: After competing in two events and winning the Division 2 championship on bars last season, Petru moved up to Division 1 and placed third at her Regional last week with a 36.950 that included a first place on beam (9.30).

Lia Pinkosky, Canton junior: She also competed in Division 2 last season, finishing 16th all-around and then making the jump this winter. She finished fourth all-around at her Regional last week at 36.275, keyed by a second place on beam.

Morgan Ruffing, Livonia Red senior: The reigning Division 1 all-around champion truly was an all-around standout at the 2022 Finals with a best event finish of second but top-five places in all four. She finished third at her Regional last week at 36.550 with firsts on floor exercise (9.60), vault (9.675) and bars (9.40).

Lacey Scheid, Rockford senior: She finished second all-around as a sophomore and third last season with first places on beam and floor. She’ll make another run at the championship after winning her Regional with a 38.100 and firsts on all four apparatus – vault (9.60), bars (9.55), beam (9.325) and floor (9.625).

Emma Stewart, Salem senior: She posted a seventh-place all-around finish last winter, and finished second at a loaded Regional last week at 36.600 and with a win on beam (9.375).

Katie Stewart, Salem junior: She finished a place ahead of her sister Emma to win last week’s Regional with a 37.150 and finished a place behind Emma at last year’s Final, eighth all-around.

Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge senior: Last season’s Division 1 runner-up finished a half point behind Ruffing and won vault. She’ll pursue the championship again coming off a Regional title (37.550) with firsts on floor (9.60) and vault (9.625).

Division 2

Lydia Beaton, Grand Ledge junior: Last season’s Division 2 all-around runner-up missed out on the championship by just 0.175 of a point after winning floor and vault. She won her Regional this time with a 35.700 including first places on bars (8.65), vault (9.15) and floor (9.25).

Charlotte Calhoun, Coldwater junior: She placed 15th all-around in 2022 and enters this weekend off a fifth place and 35.625 from the highest-scoring Regional in Division 2 – where she also won bars (9.325) by nearly half a point.

Alex Cinzori, Plymouth junior: After making the Finals last season on bars and finishing 15th, she advanced this time as a Regional all-around champion with a score of 35.350 and first place on floor (9.625).

Elena Hale, Huron Valley United junior: She also was a single-event qualifier last season, on floor, but will return this weekend competing all-around after a third-place Regional finish with a score of 35.225 and first place on floor (9.425).

Hailey Hill, Rockford junior: She posted the highest Regional all-around score in Division 2 last week at 36.000 with sixth places or higher on every apparatus. She competed at last year’s Finals on floor (tied for 13th), bars and vault.

Ivy McDonald, Lowell senior: She finished 11th all-around as a sophomore and tied for 11th last season, and was fourth all-around at her Regional last week at 35.675 with a co-championship on beam (9.30).

Addi Richmond, Jackson area junior: She tied for ninth all-around as a sophomore and finished 10th last winter, and returns having finished runner-up to Hill at their Regional with a 35.850 and first place on floor (9.55).

Grace Spencer, Farmington United senior: She’ll be in the mix again after tying for eighth all-around last season and coming off a second-straight Regional championship (36.200) that included a first on beam (9.55).

Bella Thibodeau, Farmington United sophomore: She finished second to Spencer at their Regional with an all-around 35.300 and first place on bars (8.75) after competing in that event at last year’s Finals.

Katie Tracey, Rockford sophomore: She finished 18th all-around last season and could move up substantially after placing third at last week’s Regional with a 35.825 and sharing a balance beam championship with McDonald (9.300).

PHOTO From left, Rockford’s Lacey Scheid, Livonia Red’s Morgan Ruffing and Grand Ledge’s Alaina Yaney finished third, first and second, respectively, at last season’s Division 1 all-around competition. All three will compete again this weekend. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Performance of the Week: North Farmington's Leah Hodge

March 14, 2024

Leah Hodge headshotLeah Hodge ♦ North Farmington
Junior ♦ Gymnastics

Hodge, coming off a dominating Division 1 Regional win the week before, finished the season with another memorable weekend helping Farmington United to a runner-up finish at Friday’s Team Final before clinching the Division 1 individual championship Saturday with an all-around score of 38.000.

A gymnast since she was 6 years old, Hodge scored a meet-high 37.950 all-around Friday as Farmington United finished second, just two tenths of a point off the lead, and her Saturday performance included a championship on uneven parallel bars (9.55), runner-up finish on vault (9.50), fourth place on balance beam (9.425) and sixth place on floor exercise (9.525) – despite her injuring an ankle midway through the meet. Farmington United is a cooperative program with athletes from North Farmington and Farmington high schools. 

@mhsaasports 🤸POW: Leah Hodge #gymnastics #individual #champion #letsgo #farmingtonunited #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🤸POW: Leah Hodge #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #simonebiles #sourpatchkids #drake #olives #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

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Past 2023-24 Honorees

March 8: Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Report
March 1:
Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

PHOTO Farmington United's Leah Hodge competes during the floor exercise Saturday at Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)