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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Tracey finished her senior gymnastics season this past winter with one of the most successful Finals weekends possible. On Friday, she helped Rockford to its first team championship since 2017. At Saturday’s Individual Finals, Tracey earned the Division 2 title with an all-around score of 36.325.
The Rockford standout previously had helped the Rams to runner-up team gymnastics finishes in 2019 and 2021, and had placed second individually in Division 2 as a junior as well. She also ran cross country and track during her high school career, including at MHSAA Cross Country Finals as both a sophomore and senior. She’s continuing at Michigan State University, where she’s studying human biology with a minor in Spanish.
"I'm really thankful we live in a time where women have the same opportunities to compete in athletics, because sports has shaped me into the person I am today – a competitive, driven and disciplined person. The lessons I've learned from competing are irreplaceable, and I just couldn't imagine who I'd be without sports present in my life. The lessons I've learned and the characteristics I've developed played a huge role in my daily life and will continue to play a role in the future with whatever obstacles come my way.
"And I think the opportunity to compete as a female athletes is more than just winning medals and trophies. To me it's more the opportunity to learn valuable lessons and shape yourself into the person you want to be."
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