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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The addition of two games to basketball regular-season schedules and a new series of wrestling weight classes are likely the most noticeable Winter 2022-23 changes as an estimated 65,000 athletes statewide take part in 13 sports for which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments.
Girls gymnastics and boys ice hockey teams were able to begin practice Oct. 31, with the rest of those sports beginning in November – including also girls and boys basketball, girls and boys bowling, girls competitive cheer, girls and boys skiing, Upper Peninsula girls and boys and Lower Peninsula boys swimming & diving, and girls and boys wrestling.
A variety of changes are in effect for winter sports this season, including a several that will be noteworthy and noticeable to teams and spectators alike.
Basketball remains the most-participated winter sport for MHSAA member schools with 33,000 athletes taking part last season, and for the first time, basketball teams may play up to 22 regular-season games. This increase from the previous 20-game schedule allows more games for teams at every high school level – varsity, junior varsity and freshman.
Another significant change has been made in wrestling, as the majority of boys wrestling weight classes have been adjusted for this season in anticipation of a national change coming in 2023-24. The updated boys weight classes are 106, 113, 120, 126, 132, 138, 144, 150, 157, 165, 175, 190, 215 and 285 pounds. Only 215 and 285 remain from the previous lineup. There is also one change to girls weight classes, with the 255 class replaced by 235 to also align with national high school standards.
A series of notable changes will affect how competition takes place at the MHSAA Tournament levels. In hockey, in addition to a new classification process that spread cooperative and single-school programs evenly throughout the three playoff divisions, the MHSAA Tournament will employ two changes. The Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) will be used to seed the entire Regional round, not just the top two teams, and prior to the start of Semifinals, a seeding committee will reseed the remaining four teams in each division with the top seed in each then facing the No. 4 seed, and the No. 2 seed facing No. 3.
Bowling also will see an MHSAA Tournament change, as the Team Regional format will mirror the long-standing Team Final with teams playing eight Baker games and two regular games at both levels. And as also applied during the fall girls season, there is a new qualification process for divers seeking to advance to Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals. In each of the three divisions, each Regional will be guaranteed 10 qualifiers for the Finals, with six more “floating” qualifier entries to be distributed to the Regionals that have one of the previous year’s top six returning Finals divers in their fields. If a team changes division from the previous season, any floating top-six spots are added to the six already allowed in the school’s new division.
A gymnastics rules change provides an opportunity for additional scoring during the floor exercise. A dance passage requirement was added in place of the former dance series requirement to encourage creativity and a more artistic use of dance. The dance passage requires gymnasts to include two Group 1 elements – one a leap with legs in cross or side split position, the other a superior element.
In competitive cheer, the penalty for going over the time limit in each round was adjusted to one penalty point for every second over the time limit, not to exceed 15 points. The new time limit rule is more lenient than the past penalty, which subtracted points based on ranges of time over the limit.
The 2022-23 Winter campaign culminates with postseason tournaments, as the championship schedule begins with the Upper Peninsula Girls & Boys Swimming & Diving Finals on Feb. 18 and wraps up with the Boys Basketball Finals on March 25. Here is a complete list of winter tournament dates:
Districts – March 6, 8, 10
Regionals – March 13, 15
Quarterfinals – March 21
Semifinals – March 23-24
Finals – March 25
Districts – Feb. 27, March 1, 3
Regionals – March 7, 9
Quarterfinals – March 14
Semifinals – March 16-17
Finals – March 18
Regionals – Feb. 24-25
Finals – March 3-4
District – Feb. 17-18
Regionals – Feb. 25
Finals – March 2-3
Regionals – March 4
Finals – March 10-11
Regionals – Feb. 20-March 1
Quarterfinals – March 4
Semifinals – March 9-10
Finals – March 11
Regionals – Feb. 13-17
Finals – Feb. 27
Swimming & Diving
Upper Peninsula Girls/Boys Finals – Feb. 18
Lower Peninsula Boys Diving Regionals – March 2
Lower Peninsula Boys Finals – March 10-11
Wrestling – Team
Districts – Feb. 8-9
Regionals – Feb. 15
Finals – Feb. 24-25
Wrestling – Individual
Districts – Feb. 11
Regionals – Feb. 18
Finals – March 3-4
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.