10 to Remember: 2012-13 Finals

June 27, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Championships are culminations of season-long journeys, concluding with the most exciting competitions of the year but steeped in back stories that make those crowning achievements mean so much more.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association awards 127 team championships each school year. Anyone picking 10 favorites could come up with at least 13 different lists.

So the list that follows likely won’t agree with many others. But here’s one person’s take on the 10 most incredible MHSAA Finals performances – focusing mostly on the final competition but with some back story built in – from the 2012-13 school year. (Click on headings for full stories.)

10. Special teams lead to special accomplishment for Brother Rice

Birmingham Brother Rice and Muskegon had combined for 12 MHSAA football championships entering the Finals. But in winning their eighth, the Warriors also accomplished a first in 44 seasons under coach Al Fracassa – their first back-to-back titles. They went ahead in the eventual 35-28 win on a cross-field lateral that turned into a 91-yard kickoff return with 2:13 to play.

9. Lakewood volleyball ends championship wait ...

Lake Odessa Lakewood coach Kellie Rowland has won 787 matches during her 15 seasons over two tenures leading the program, and frequently had brought the Vikings to the cusp of their first MHSAA title. They finally got it by defeating perennial power North Branch in three games in the Class B championship match.  

8. ... and so does Bay City Western baseball

The Warriors earned coach Tim McDonald his first MHSAA championship game victory to go with 562 more wins over 21 seasons. Bay City Western won 1-0 in both the Semifinal and then Final over Brother Rice to secure its first baseball title and a 42-2 finish.

7. “Core 4” leave Mona Shores with four more

Seniors Hailey Hrynewich, Morgan Smith, Britni Gielow and Kelsey McKinley finished their high school careers as starters on four MHSAA championship teams, including the one that won the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final this school year by 41 strokes. Hrynewich and Smith both posted top-five individual finishes as Mona Shores shot a two-day 666 at their final championship tournament.

6. Grand Ledge gymnastics sets the bar

Number six on this list makes sense for the Comets, who won their sixth straight MHSAA team championship to set the all-time longest title streak in the sport. They did so with the fifth-highest score in MHSAA Finals history – 149.350 – and despite graduating the Division 1 all-around champion the spring before.

5. Seniors say good-bye at LP Division 1 Final

Grosse Pointe South’s Hannah Meier and West Bloomfield’s Erin Finn brought national acclaim to the Detroit suburbs over the last two years with dominating performances in track and cross country. They finished their careers at the LP Division 1 Track & Field Final, where Meier set all-MHSAA Finals records in the 800 and 1,600 and Finn set an all-Finals record in the 3,200. In the fall, Finn and Meier finished first and second, respectively, at the LP Division 1 Cross Country Final.

4. Fowlerville standout reaches the stars

Gladiators senior Adam Coon, once an aspiring astronaut now turned aspiring aerospace engineer, became the 17th wrestler in MHSAA history to win four individual Finals championships. And he became the first to do so at the two heaviest weights, earning his titles at 215 and 285 pounds. He graduated with a career record of 211-3 and a 194-match winning streak.

3. Swimming with speed in Saline

Saline also won its fourth straight MHSAA title, in Lower Peninsula Division 1, anchored by seniors David Boland, Josh Ehrman, Michael Bundas and Adam Whitener. Combined, they hold four Finals individual and two relay records, and Ehrman graduated with all-Finals records in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Those four also leave with the 200 medley relay all-Finals record – with their time of 1:30.01 good for third-best in the national record book.

2. Michell sits atop MHSAA medal count

Reed City’s Sami Michell is one of two girls in MHSAA history to win four events at a Track & Field Final – a feat she accomplished both this season and last. And she finished her career this month with 12 individual titles overall, two more than the previous Lower Peninsula record. She graduated with LP Division 3 Finals records in both hurdles races and the long jump, and her 300 hurdles time of 42.23 is an all-Finals record.

1. Football Finals end in overtime classic

The most exciting MHSAA Football Final likely was the last of Thanksgiving weekend – a 40-37 overtime win by Grand Rapids Christian over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s that gave the Eagles the Division 3 title. And at least on this list, it counts as the most exciting of all the buzzer-beating, one-point, by one millimeter endings to the MHSAA’s 127 Finals this school year.

The Saturday night crowd at Ford Field was treated to an incredible performance by Eagles receiver Drake Harris, who had eight catches for a record 243 yards and touchdown and was nearly unstoppable as Grand Rapids Christian drove down the stretch. Quarterback Alex VanDeVusse threw for 307 yards, fourth-most in MHSAA Finals history, as the frazzled nerves of fans, players and coaches alike hung on every play. St. Mary’s ran for 459 of the single-team Finals record 579 yards of total offense; the teams combined for another record of 1,033 total yards between them. And at the end, the game was decided on a 27-yard field goal by Joel Schipper, who had connected on a 28-yarder with four seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime.

PHOTO:Saline swimmers take a celebratory dip after claiming their fourth straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship.

Lake Linden-Hubbell, Stephenson Share in UPD3; Jokela Joins Elite Club

By Jason Juno
Special for MHSAA.com

June 4, 2023

KINGSFORD – Lake Linden-Hubbell got to the top with first-place power. Stephenson won only two events. 

But there are multiple ways to win an MHSAA Finals championship in track & field. And the Lakes and Eagles tied for the Upper Peninsula Division 3 girls title Saturday. 

Norway's Taylor Adams wins the 800. Lake Linden-Hubbell got a little assist from two-time reigning champion Ontonagon in the final event, the 1,600 relay. The Lakes led in the standings by eight points, but they didn’t have a 1,600-meter relay team. Stephenson could have won the team title with a win in that event, but Ontonagon’s relay team proved solid again and forced the Eagles to settle for the runner-up spot in the race and the eight points that come with it.

The Lakes last won team Finals titles during a three-year run from 2017-19. For Stephenson, it had been since 1993 when the team competed in Class C. The Eagles were runners-up last year.

Lake Linden-Hubbell sophomore Emily Jokela entered with the fastest Regional times in all four of her events, and she won all four of them Saturday – the 100, 200, 400 and 300 hurdles. She became just the sixth female to win four individual events at an MHSAA Finals.

The only one she didn’t win a title in last year was the 100 dash; she has that now. The only school record she didn’t have going into Saturday was in the 200; she has that now as well. She broke it by one tenth of a second.

“It feels great,” Jokela said. “I was very worried about running today because it was so hot.”

Her 300 hurdles time of 45.63 seconds set a UPD3 Finals record. Ontonagon’s Lori Wardynski had the record before (47.27).

Stephenson's Jada Kuntze crosses the finish line first in the 3,200 relay.Teammate Abi Codere repeated in the 100 hurdles, and their 400 relay team (Codere, Rebecca Lyons, Isabella Tampas and Cleo Milkey) also won.

Stephenson’s wins came in the 3,200 relay (Faith Cappaert, Joelle Beaudo, Kayela Putnam and Jada Kuntze) and the long jump (Sarah Labs).

Ontonagon also won the 800 relay (Lilly McIntyre, Alli Bobula, Kylee Uotila and Makennah Uotila).

“I’m sad we didn’t get a title this year, but the past two back-to-back U.P. titles we had made my entire career,” senior Makennah Uotila said. “I’ve enjoyed it so much. The relays were a big part of our U.P.  titles, so to still have strong relays is very important.”

Newberry’s Kaylen Clark won the 1,600 and 3,200 runs. She was the runner-up at the UPD3 cross country meet in the fall and in both events at the UPD2 track meet last season. Taylor Adams of Norway won the 800.

In the field, Mariska Laurila of Carney-Nadeau was the champion in the discus, Rudyard’s Alicia Cheney won the high jump, Dollar Bay’s Nora Keranen won the pole vault after winning long jump in 2022, and Brimley’s Grace Hill repeated in the shot put.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Lake Linden-Hubbell's Emily Jokela, second from right, wins the 400 on Saturday. (Middle) Norway's Taylor Adams wins the 800. (Below) Stephenson's Jada Kuntze crosses the finish line first in the 3,200 relay. (Photos by Cara Kamps/RunMichigan.com.)