Rockford Golden Again in Regrouping, Rebounding to Repeat as Finals Champ

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 10, 2023

WHITE LAKE – Rockford gymnastics coach Michelle Ankney said a little regrouping was in order, even for her experienced and championship-tested squad.

In its third rotation at the MHSAA Team Gymnastics Final on Friday, the Rams were uncharacteristically off on the bars and ended up finishing with the sixth-best score in that event. 

At that point, Ankney tried to employ a pet-themed motivational tactic to get her team’s spirits up again.

“We did have to take a break,” she said. “We’ve been talking about if you are a goldfish, you only have an 8-second memory. We had to get out our anger and pretend to be a goldfish and head to beam. We did a little pep talk, we did a little cheering and we stepped up the best we could.”

Rockford responded in its final event, earning the best score of any team on the beam. Coupled with first-place scores in the vault and floor exercise as well, it was enough to balance the poor finish on bars and lift the Rams to their second-straight Finals championship.

They finished with an overall score of 144.500, ahead of runner-up Jackson Area’s total of 142.400.

Farmington United was third at 141.325, Hartland took fourth at 140.475, while Livonia Red rounded out the top five with a score of 140.350. 

This year’s title might have been a little different for Rockford than last year’s in that the Rams were the prohibitive favorites, but Ankney said the thrill of victory was the same. 

Jackson Area’s Addi Richmond dismounts near the conclusion of her beam routine. “It’s still the surprise of ‘we did it,’” she said. “We came out strong, and then bars was a little bit of a disappointment. We try not to check scores, and we try not to watch. When we get to (the end), it’s a 100-percent surprise what happened.”

Rockford ended up taking first on the vault with a score of 36.300, first in the floor exercise with a 37.625 and first on the beam with a score of 36.250.

The championship was Rockford’s fifth since 2015. 

“We definitely had a bull’s eye on our back,” Ankney said. “We just have been training hard, and we came in saying we need to do Rockford gymnastics. We didn’t need to do anything beyond what we already do. We just needed to come in, hit, do our thing and hope for the best. It worked.”

As was the case at their Regional meet, right behind Rockford was Jackson, the 2021 Finals champion which rebounded from an eighth-place finish last year. 

Despite the disappointment of last year, Jackson head coach Marcy Miller said it wasn’t really a source of motivation for this year’s meet. 

“Our girls just go out there and do the best they can,” Miller said. “They honestly don’t put a lot of thought in the other team or places. Their goal is to just do the best they can that day.” 

Jackson didn’t place first in any event, but took second in the bars with a score of 35.150 and tied for second in the floor exercise with a score of 37.375. 

The only team besides Rockford to earn a first on an apparatus was Salem, which was best on the bars with a score of 35.350 and second in the vault with a score of 35.600.

But an 11th-place finish on the beam and a tie for sixth in the floor exercise hurt the Rocks, and resulted in a sixth-place finish overall.

A total of 26 gymnasts competed on all four apparatus for their teams, and three reached 37-point all-around scores – Grand Ledge’s Alaina Yaney (37.475), Livonia Red’s Morgan Ruffing (37.450) and Rockford’s Lacey Scheid (37.000). Hailey Hill (35.675) also competed all-around for Rockford, which had eight gymnasts in at least one event. Alyssa Budd led Jackson Area at 36.800, and Jenna Bradley scored a 36.150.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) A Rockford gymnast competes in floor exercise during Friday’s MHSAA Team Final. (Middle) Jackson Area’s Addi Richmond dismounts near the conclusion of her beam routine. (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

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.'s "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

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.)