By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A total of 58 schools won one or more of the 69 Michigan High School Athletic Association team championships awarded during the 2019-20 school year, with two teams winning three or more titles despite the cancellation of 62 MHSAA Finals due to COVID-19.
Marquette led with seven championships, winning its divisions in girls and boys skiing, girls and boys swimming & diving, girls and boys cross country and girls tennis. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern won the second-most titles, three, finishing first in its divisions in girls golf, boys tennis and boys soccer – the soccer championship its first in that sport.
Four more schools won two championships: Ann Arbor Pioneer, East Grand Rapids, Farmington Hills Mercy and Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central.
A total of 18 teams won first MHSAA titles in their respective sports, with Essexville Garber’s win in Division 3 girls bowling the school’s first Finals championship in any sport. A total of 23 champions were repeat winners from 2018-19 – and 11 of those won for at least the third straight season, while six extended title streaks to at least four consecutive years.
The Marquette boys skiing program owns the longest title streak at eight seasons, while Lowell wrestling joined Rockford girls lacrosse with a seventh consecutive championship. Rockford’s streak remains at seven after its season was canceled.
Sixteen of the MHSAA's 28 championship tournaments are unified, involving teams from the Upper and Lower Peninsulas, while separate competition to determine titlists in both Peninsulas is conducted in remaining sports. Because of COVID-19, the entire spring season was canceled as were Finals in girls and boys basketball, ice hockey, girls gymnastics and Lower Peninsula boys swimming & diving.
For a sport-by-sport listing of MHSAA champions for 2019-20, click here.
(NOTE: Included in the total of 58 schools above are both Zeeland East and West, which form the cooperative program that won the Division 1 girls bowling title. However, together they are counted as one of the 18 first-time championship teams.)
The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association began examining several topics during its Fall Meeting, Dec. 1 in East Lansing – including start and end dates of the winter calendar, possible new transfer rule exceptions and emerging sports – that will shape its work during the winter and spring meetings of this 2023-24 school year.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in March and May. The Council did take three actions this time as part of larger conversations expected to continue over the next six months.
The Council joined staff discussion on the start and end dates of winter seasons and the possibility of moving up both, which was among topics surveyed as part of the Update Meeting poll completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state this fall. Staff will prepare a recommendation for Council to review at a future meeting regarding the 2025-26 school year and beyond.
MHSAA staff also provided a variety of transfer rule issues encountered over the last year, and Council discussed the possibility of adding transfer rule exceptions related to military transfer families, fulltime school employee transfers and students returning from a sports academy or prep school and seeking immediate eligibility. The Council did adopt a change for multi-high school districts (with at least three high schools) that include both boundary and non-boundary schools that more clearly defined where students at those schools have immediate eligibility.
The Council also discussed possible new and emerging sports, including proposals for MHSAA sponsorship received by the water polo and field hockey governing bodies and an anticipated proposal to add boys volleyball to the MHSAA Tournament lineup.
Several more conversations regarded MHSAA postseasons:
- The Council reviewed the work of the Football Task Force and considered a staff recommendation to have the Football Committee in January discuss possibly capping enrollment of Division 8 11-player schools at 250 students to incentivize schools within that group to play 11-player instead of switching to 8-player.
- MHSAA staff have identified four areas requiring financial increases – MHSAA Tournament officials fees, host schools compensations, manager honorariums and team reimbursements for Finals participants – and the Council discussed the importance of including these when the MHSAA Audit & Finance Committee meets in February to begin the 2024-25 budgetary process.
- The Council also discussed recommendations from the MHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee addressing possible requirements of emergency action plans and AEDs at MHSAA Tournament sites.
The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Wyoming Godfrey-Lee Schools superintendent Arnetta Thompson and Freeland Middle School principal Jennifer Thunberg to two-year terms to the 19-person Council, the first terms for both. The Council also reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson as its vice president, and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
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 1.4 million spectators each year.