This past Saturday saw eight teams and eight individuals crowned MHSAA champions, and this week we feature a few who will be listed among the best for all time.
West Bloomfield senior
Finn won her second straight MHSAA individual Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship, this time in 17:07.9. Her finish was the fastest from any of the four divisions that raced Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, and gave her the victory in hers by 27 seconds. Finn’s time was the fourth-best ever at an MHSAA Final. She has three of the top 15 times ever run at MIS, more than any other runner.
On track for more: Finn also won an MHSAA Track and Field championship last season, setting an all-division/class record in the 1,600 with a time of 10:17.86. That time was nearly five seconds better than the previous best.
Maize and Blue: Finn will run next season at the University of Michigan. The Wolverines cross country team is ranked No. 7 nationally heading into Friday's NCAA Great Lakes Regional.
Scientifically speaking: Finn intends to study biomechanical engineering at U-M. "My junior year, I found out I love physics, and I already knew I loved bio and chemistry. So, what's better than to combine those?"
Runners to chase: “I looked up to Megan Goethals (of Rochester), number one, and Shannon Osika (of Waterford Mott). They’re people I competed with. I know that one day I can be like that. It’s more real to me.”
Erie Mason senior
After dashing to the lead last season and finishing fourth, Nick Raymond dominated the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final at MIS with a time of 15:05.1 – the second-fastest time for a Division 3/Class C MHSAA Final to only Maverick Darling's 14:52.8 for Ovid-Elsie in 2007. Raymond is the first individual cross country champion from Erie Mason (not counting another who finished first among individuals before team and individual placers were combined for one race beginning in 1997) and also placed in both the 1,600 and 3,200 at the spring's Lower Peninsula Division 3 Track and Field Final.
A long drive: "I've been working hard, since the first time (I ran) in sixth grade. Working hard and training hard over the summer and during mandatory practices too."
Brotherly influence: Raymond began running cross country in the footsteps of his older brother Andrew Raymond, a 2010 graduate. "He told me, 'If you just keep working hard, just look forward at your dream, your goal, you will achieve it.'"
Now the pool, then the track: Raymond swims during the winter, specializing in butterfly and breaststroke. Then it's on to track. Raymond finished fourth in the 1,600 (4:21.84) and seventh in the 3,200 (9:44.91) at last season's Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final.
Looking up to Pre: Like many in the running community, Raymond considers former Oregon and international star Steve Prefontaine a major influence. "I liked how he had a lot of faith in himself."
East Kentwood soccer
The top-ranked Falcons edged Grand Blanc 1-0 at Troy Athens to claim their fourth Division 1 championship in six seasons. They finished 22-1-4, their seventh with at least 20 wins in the last eight years.
Previous 2012-13 honorees:
- Julia Bos, Grand Rapids Christian cross country - Click for more
- Morgan Bullock, Zeeland swimming - Click for more
- Nathan Burnand, Waterford Mott cross country - Click for more
- Aaron Chatfield, Burt Lake Northern Michigan Christian soccer - Click for more
- Billy Heckman, Portage Central tennis - Click for more
- Codi Jenshak, Escanaba tennis - Click for more
- Amanda McKinzie, Battle Creek St. Philip cross country - Click for more
- Connor Mora, Cedar Springs cross country - Click for more
- Kelsey Murphy, Plymouth golf - Click for more
- Dewey Lewis, Rockford soccer - Click for more
- Jacqueline Setas, Lansing Catholic golf - Click for more
- Michael Sienko, Williamston tennis - Click for more
- Beal City volleyball - Click for more
- Grand Blanc boys soccer - Click for more
- Ithaca football - Click for more
- Lansing Everett football - Click for more
- Ludington boys tennis - Click for more
- Muskegon Mona Shores girls golf - Click for more
As anticipated, the midpoint of this football regular season provided clarity to league championship races all over the state over the weekend, setting up some massive build-up as the calendar turns to October.
(Historical information below researched in part at Michigan-football.com.)
Bay & Thumb
HEADLINER Chesaning 16, Montrose 6 Chesaning (4-1) is staring down a possible first league title since 2005 after handing the Rams (4-1) and previously New Lothrop their only losses in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference. This also was Chesaning’s first win over Montrose since they helped form the MMAC in 2018 – and now Chesaning will turn its attention to Ovid-Elsie this week and reigning champion Durand after that with that league title possibility growing. Click for more from the Flint Journal.
— Yousef Nasser (@YousefNasserTV) September 23, 2023
Watch list Saginaw Heritage 49, Lapeer 21 The Hawks (3-2) opened Saginaw Valley League Red play with losses to Grand Blanc and Davison but are still to be feared as handing this first loss of the season to Lightning (4-1) showed. Further putting that start in perspective, all five of Heritage’s opponents so far have winning records heading into Week 6.
On the move Millington 21, Standish-Sterling 20 The Cardinals (5-0) clinched a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Blue title after losing out to Standish-Sterling (2-3) a year ago. Corunna 49, Lake Fenton 17 The Cavaliers (5-0) will play Goodrich this week to decide the Flint Metro League Stars champion for the second year in a row after taking Lake Fenton (3-2) out of the title race. Almont 13, Armada 12 Almont (5-0) and Croswell-Lexington will face off this week for first in the Blue Water Area Conference after Almont came back from down 12-0 in the third quarter to get past the reigning co-champion Tigers (2-3).
HEADLINER Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 28, Macomb Dakota 21 Four teams are in the running again in the Macomb Area Conference Red, with Chippewa Valley (3-2) helping to open the race back up with its first win over Dakota since the 2019 regular season. The Cougars (4-1) drew close with a touchdown with a minute to play, but the Big Reds secured the onside kick – and now those two and Utica Eisenhower sit a game behind Romeo in the league standings. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.
Relive the exhilarating STATE CHAMPS! Gametime Live Broadcast where Chippewa Valley (@CVBigReds) triumphed over Macomb Dakota with an 28-21 victory, reclaiming the Superintendent Trophy for the first time since 2019.
— STATE CHAMPS! Michigan (@statechampsmich) September 23, 2023
Watch list Riverview 36, Flat Rock 34 The Huron League is back to a three-team race with these two and Carleton Airport after Riverview (4-1) handed Flat Rock (4-1) its lone loss. All three have played each other, so they’ll need help to break the tie at the top.
On the move Redford Union 33, Dearborn Heights Robichaud 22 Union (4-1) sits alone atop a close Western Wayne Athletic Conference race but with wins over two of three teams tied for second, plus Robichaud (3-2) as well. Warren Michigan Collegiate 44, Detroit Edison 16 In successive weeks, Michigan Collegiate (5-0) has handed lone losses this season to Romulus Summit North and now Edison to take control of the Charter School Conference Gold race. Warren De La Salle Collegiate 14, Detroit Catholic Central 7 They both trail Toledo Central Catholic in the Catholic League Central, but both will be expected to factor heavily in the playoffs even if they miss out on a league title. DCC (3-2) entered this game No. 9 in Division 1, and De La Salle (3-2) was No. 2 in Division 2.
HEADLINER Grand Ledge 21, Lansing Everett 12 With its first-string quarterback sidelined, Grand Ledge emerged from a scoreless game at halftime to remain atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue while moving to 5-0 overall. The Comets’ defense was especially tough, holding back an Everett offense that had reached 40 points in two of its last three games as the Vikings (3-2) entered the night the having won three in a row. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.
— Travis (@travis_reporter) September 23, 2023
Watch list Hastings 34, Battle Creek Harper Creek 6 The Saxons (3-2) are in the mix in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, having picked up some serious momentum by handing Harper Creek (4-1) its lone defeat.
On the move East Lansing 35, Grand Blanc 7 East Lansing’s 0-2 start keeps gaining context as those early opponents keep winning and the Trojans (3-2) do the same against league title contenders like the Saginaw Valley League Blue’s Bobcats (3-2). Mason 35, Haslett 20 The Bulldogs (5-0) can clinch a share of the CAAC Red this week after holding off Haslett (3-2) for their closest win, with the defense coming up big late as the Vikings were driving to attempt to tie the score. Portland 52, Lansing Catholic 14 The Raiders (5-0) ran their winning streak over the rival Cougars (2-3) to two as they look to repeat as CAAC White champions – and with Week 8 against Lansing Sexton looking more and more like a potential decider.
Northern Lower Peninsula
HEADLINER Gaylord 35, Cadillac 14 The Blue Devils are only halfway through the Big North Conference schedule but may be impossible to catch. Gaylord sits atop the standings and has handed the lone league loss to the three teams in second or tied for third, including the Vikings (3-2). The Blue Devils scored 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points this time to get to 5-0 for the first time since 2003. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.
Watch list Traverse City West 24, Midland Dow 21 The Titans (2-3) started 0-2 and have played three games decided by a touchdown or less, including this one to keep them as one of two teams undefeated in SVL Red play.
On the move Charlevoix 29, Benzie Central 12 The Rayders (4-1) can clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title this week after sending Benzie Central (2-3) into second place. Kingsley 44, Traverse City St. Francis 21 The Stags (4-1) had lost to the rival Gladiators (2-3) the last two seasons, including 49-12 a year ago, but this time kept pace with Ogemaw Heights atop the NMFC Legends. East Jordan 26, Maple City Glen Lake 3 Coming off a Week 4 loss, the Red Devils remain in the NMFC Legacy title hunt after a solid bounce-back against the Lakers (3-2).
Southeast & Border
HEADLINER Chelsea 28, Adrian 18 The Southeastern Conference White is looking like it will come down to Chelsea and Jackson after the Bulldogs sent Adrian (4-1) into second place. Since falling to Grand Rapids Northview in Week 1, Chelsea (4-1) has won its next four games all by double digits. Click for more from the Chelsea Sun Times News.
Watch list Dexter 55, Ann Arbor Huron 29 The Dreadnaughts (3-2) are picking up fast after an 0-2 start, with this win dropping Huron (3-2) out of a tie for first in the SEC Red. Dexter has gone over 50 points two straight weeks.
On the move Clinton 50, Blissfield 0 The Redwolves (4-1) also have won four straight after an opening loss and sit tied with Hudson for first in the Lenawee County Athletic Association, while Blissfield (3-2) fell into third. Napoleon 35, Grass Lake 26 For the second-straight week, Napoleon handed the first loss this season to a league opponent – and the Pirates now sit atop the Cascades Conference East with Michigan Center. Erie Mason 40, Petersburg Summerfield 16 Coming off three straight losses, the Eagles (2-3) were in need of a rebound – and got it by handing Summerfield (4-1) its lone defeat.
HEADLINER Dowagiac 27, Benton Harbor 26 A one-point Week 1 loss to South Haven is all that’s kept Dowagiac from a perfect start, and the Chieftains (4-1) with this win guaranteed their best finish since at least 2019. Dowagiac trailed 18-13 at halftime, then held off the Tigers (2-3) late to open the Lakeland Conference schedule on the right foot. Click for more from the Niles Daily Star.
Watch list South Haven 45, Allegan 17 The Rams (3-2) won just two games a year ago, but opened with the above-mentioned win over Dowagiac, added a second win over Delton Kellogg two weeks ago, and this time scored their season high to hand Allegan (4-1) its only loss.
On the move Kalamazoo United 30, Parchment 28 (OT) Parchment (3-2) nearly pushed this to another overtime, but the Titans (3-2) held on in another Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore opener to join South Haven and Constantine among early leaders. Portage Central 35, St. Joseph 18 The Mustangs (4-1) equaled last season’s win total and kept pace atop the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference standings while sending the Bears (3-2) a game back. White Pigeon 24, Centreville 8 The Southwest 10 Conference race may come down to the Chiefs (5-0) and Cassopolis in Week 8, although Centreville (2-3) can still be part of the mix if it gets past Cassopolis this week.
HEADLINER Marquette 28, Sault Ste. Marie 7 These two hadn’t met since 2020 but moved together to the Big North Conference for football this fall. Marquette didn’t have an opponent for Week 4 and came back off the break with a big-time defensive effort to even its record at 2-2 and deal the Blue Devils (3-2) their second defeat. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.
Watch list Ishpeming 46, Bark River-Harris 8 The Hematites (2-3) had lost two straight to Bark River-Harris (2-3), but got a needed rebound after defeats the previous two weeks. They could be in for more success with their last next four opponents a combined 2-17.
On the move Manistique 44, L’Anse 0 The Emeralds (3-2) have posted three straight shutouts and sit one more win from what would be their best finish since 2012. Menominee 56, Houghton 0 Make that four shutouts in five games for the Maroons as they prepare to take on the rest of the contenders in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper over the next three weeks. Kingsford 41, Calumet 0 Coming off their lone loss, the Flivvers (4-1) posted their third shutout of the season and remain in the Copper mix.
HEADLINER Byron Center 15, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 14 The Ottawa-Kent Conference White continues to look like one of the most competitive leagues in the state this fall, and Byron Center (5-0) remains tied for first with East Grand Rapids thanks to a two-point conversion after a last-minute go-ahead score. FHC (4-1) entered the game ranked No. 1 in Division 3, and Byron Center was No. 4 in Division 2.
Byron Center sneaks past FHC with late TD and 2-point conversion
"I'm so proud of our guys right now," @BlakeOttow23 said, "it's unbelievable."
— FOX 17 Blitz (@FOX17Blitz) September 23, 2023
Watch list Grandville 44, Hudsonville 37 These teams traded leads all game, but Grandville (4-1) scored last to earn a spot atop the O-K Red, tied with Rockford. The Bulldogs have defeated the Eagles (4-1) in four straight.
On the move East Grand Rapids 14, Grand Rapids Northview 10 As noted above, EGR (5-0) kept pace atop the O-K White – thanks to a late go-ahead score that sent Northview to 3-2. Zeeland West 36, Zeeland East 13 The Dux (5-0) ran their streak over the Chix (4-1) to five straight wins and in doing so remained tied with Muskegon for first in the O-K Green. Whitehall 35, Manistee 0 The Mariners (5-0) are alone atop the West Michigan Conference Lakes after blanking a Manistee offense that averaged 40 points per game during its 4-0 start.
HEADLINER Lake Linden-Hubbell 28, Powers North Central 25 The longest winning streak in Michigan 8-player football history is over. Lake Linden-Hubbell handed the three-time reigning champion Jets their first loss since the 2019 Regional Finals and after a stretch of 41 consecutive wins, pulling ahead with a long touchdown pass during the final minutes. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.
Watch list Climax-Scotts 53, Bellevue 22 Climax-Scotts keeps climbing and got to 5-0 for the second year in a row with their fourth showing of 50 points or better, this time to send Bellevue to 3-2.
On the move Indian River Inland Lakes 26, Munising 24 The Bulldogs (4-1) played their second two-point game in a row, but this time came out on the winning side after falling to St. Ignace by two in Week 4. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 20, Gobles 17 (2OT) The Mustangs (3-2) ended another undefeated start, edging the Tigers (4-1) while holding them 42 points below their average this season. Marion 42, Rudyard 8 The Eagles may have given up their first points this fall, but impressed again against arguably their toughest opponent so far in Rudyard (3-2).
Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. 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 www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and X (Twitter) @mistudentaid.
PHOTOS (Top) Davison applies a pass rush as Saginaw United takes to the air during the Cardinals' 63-0 win Friday. (Middle) Marquette quarterback Jaxon Jurmu (2) keeps the ball and gains several yards before being tackled by Sault Ste. Marie's Owen Horrigan (52). (Photos by Terry Lyons and Cara Kamps, respectively.)