WHITE LAKE – There was definitely a different routine for Rockford before the actual routines began for the 2022 MHSAA Team Gymnastics Final on Friday at Lakeland High School.
For the first time since 2014, Rockford didn’t play host to the event.
So instead of coming to its home gym and trying to help set everything up, the Rams instead went through a bus trip and the process of getting acclimated to a new environment.
But that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“I think it helped,” Rockford senior Anna Tracey said. “It allowed us to have some team bonding before we got to the meet. We just talked to each other and had fun.”
Indeed, Rockford did just fine away from home, reclaiming the championship throne by edging Grand Ledge. The Rams had 143.825 points to Grand Ledge’s total of 143.500.
After finishing as Final runner-up in 2019 and 2021 (the 2020 meet was cancelled due to COVID-19), Rockford won its first title since claiming the last of three in a row in 2017.
“We always want it, and we always are hopeful for it,” Rockford head coach Michele Ankney said. “We knew we were in the running this year. We weren’t sure where we would line up in the end. Gymnastics is a fickle sport sometimes.”
Rockford was the only team to have at least one top-four finish in every event, starting off by scoring third in the floor exercise.
Following a fourth-place finish in the bars and a third-place finish on the vault, the Rams saved their best for their last event, finishing first on the beam.
Leading the way was junior Lacey Scheid, who had a 9.550 on the floor, a 9.400 on the vault, a 9.100 on the bars and a 9.525 on the beam.
Tracey had a 9.175 on the floor, an 8.975 on the vault, an 8.850 on the bars and a 9.525 on the beam to flank Scheid for Rockford.
“We started strong,” Ankney said. “Our floor and bars were solid. And then we had a few mistakes on bars and beam and we didn’t know what that was going to do to us. This is 100 percent surprise right here.”
Traditional power Grand Ledge was seeking its first title since winning the last of six in a row in 2013, and the Comets finished first in both the floor and vault.
But a seventh-place finish in the beam and a sixth-place finish on the bars proved to be Grand Ledge’s undoing.
“We normally score higher on bars and a lot higher on beam,” longtime Comets head coach Duane Haring said. “Just nerves. I guess I’d be nervous too. But they did really well. Second place is nothing to sneeze at.”
The highest Metro Detroit finisher was Livonia Red, which took third with 142.950 points.
Brighton was fourth at 141.000, while Salem rounded out the top five with 140.825 points.
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Sophia Wagner ♦ Escanaba
Senior ♦ Gymnastics
In just her team’s second competition this season, Wagner set program records with a 9.8 on floor exercise and 37.380 all-around to finish first in both at the Escanaba Elks Invitational. The floor exercise record topped the previous Escanaba-best 9.7 scored by current senior teammate Sophie Lehto last season.
Escanaba’s gymnastics program has made major statewide strides over the last half-decade, and Wagner reached the Finals podium last season tying for fifth on Division 2 balance beam with a score of 9.025 while also tying for 22nd on vault. The week before, Wagner helped lead Escanaba to a sixth-place Regional finish against a field that included the last two Finals team champions. She also played tennis and was part of the No. 3 doubles runner-up as Escanaba shared the Upper Peninsula Division 1 team title this fall, and she finished second in pole vault and ran on the seventh-place 400-meter relay in the spring as Escanaba finished third at the UPD1 Girls Track & Field Finals.
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Past 2023-24 Honorees
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
(Photos courtesy of Victory Video and Photography.)