By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A change in format for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Baseball Tournament was among notable actions taken by the Representative Council during its annual Fall Meeting, Dec. 1 in East Lansing, in addition to MHSAA basketball schedule changes for 2018-19 announced in a previous release Dec. 4.
Beginning with the 2019 tournament, baseball will move from its current one-day Saturday Regional and Quarterfinal the following Tuesday to a two-day “Super Regional” format. The Super Regional will begin with a Regional Semifinal on the Wednesday following District Finals, followed by two Regional Finals at the same site on Saturday. The winners of those two Regional Finals will then meet that same Saturday in a Super Regional championship game, with Super Regional winners then moving on directly to MHSAA Semifinals the following Thursday and Friday.
Both Regional champions will continue to receive trophies. No trophy will be awarded for the Super Regional champion. The MHSAA Softball Tournament, which runs concurrently with baseball’s event, will continue with the traditional schedule of Saturday Regionals followed by Tuesday Quarterfinals and then Semifinals and Finals the final weekend of the season.
The change for baseball is intended to provide teams more opportunities to use their top pitchers in the most meaningful games of the season, and was proposed by the MHSAA Baseball Committee prior to the Representative Council’s May 2017 meeting. However, the proposal was tabled at that time to give MHSAA staff an opportunity to observe how a new pitch-count rule – mandated to begin with the 2017 season by the National Federation of State High School Associations – might figure into possible changes to the tournament schedule.
The Council also took action in 8-player football, following up its decisions at earlier 2017 meetings to add a second division of playoffs and play this past season’s Finals at the Superior Dome in Marquette.
The Council’s latest actions dealt with schools’ eligibility to compete in the postseason. The Council voted to continue using the maximum enrollment for a Class D school as the limit to participate in the MHSAA 8-Player Football Playoffs. However, the Council also approved an allowance for schools that sponsored 8-player with a Class D enrollment one year to remain eligible for the 8-Player Playoffs the next year even if the school’s enrollment rises above the Class D limit. That allowance lasts only one year; the school’s enrollment must fall back below the Class D limit after for it to remain eligible for the 8-player postseason.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and actions during its meetings in winter and spring.
The Council began conversation on a possible MHSAA role providing assistance to schools for scheduling regular-season football games, a task often cited as among the most difficult for administrators and especially those whose programs are among the most successful. The Council considered approaches used in other states and two options of what could be done to assist MHSAA member schools. A trial run paper study will be conducted for scheduling 8-player football for the 2018 season, distributed to Class D 8-player schools in April. The study will consider an option where schools would be split into two equal divisions, then four regions per division, from which each school would then schedule seven of its nine games for the upcoming season while leaving the other two dates open to play schools from other regions, the other division or other states.
Following up its request of staff at the May meeting to conduct a review of the MHSAA transfer rule, the Council discussed possible revisions to the rule that would make it sport-specific. The changes would allow for immediate eligibility for a transfer student in sports he or she had not participated in at the high school level prior to the transfer – which is more lenient than the current rule – but also stipulate a one-year period of ineligibility in those sports the transfer student had played in at the high school level during the school year prior to transferring, which is a longer period of ineligibility than currently required. The possibility of a sport-specific transfer rule has been discussed at league meetings and athletic director in-service and MHSAA UPDATE meetings over the last six months and will continue to be discussed at multiple venues this winter including the League Leadership meeting and Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association conference, with a possible Council vote at its 2018 March or May meetings.
The Council as well continued its recent work on junior high/middle school athletics, examining survey results and other discussion on the possibility of allowing athletes in any sport except football to participate in a maximum of two non-school events during the school season in that sport, after tabling in May a Junior High/Middle School Committee recommendation to approve that proposal. The Council also discussed increasing the number of contests allowed each season and adding more MHSAA sponsored events at the junior high/middle school level, with action on all three topics possible in March or May.
In addition, the Council discussed the potential for beginning volleyball season two days earlier and also ending it seven days earlier, supported by 90 percent of athletic directors who responded to a survey on the topic but opposed by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association; and continued an ongoing discussion of options for potentially seeding basketball at the District level. The Council also began discourse on the process for identifying potential athletic programs and additional student populations the MHSAA could serve during the decade ahead.
The Fall Meeting saw the addition of Justin Jennings, superintendent for Muskegon Public Schools, to the 19-person Council. He was appointed to a two-year term. Jennings fills the position formerly held by Cheri Meier, assistant superintendent for Okemos Public Schools, whose term ended. Also, Courtney Hawkins, athletic director at Flint Beecher High School, was re-appointed for a second two-year term.
The Council re-elected Scott Grimes, assistant superintendent of human services for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Saginaw Heritage athletic director Pete Ryan was elected as vice president.
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.
The 120 finalists for the Michigan High School Athletic Association's Scholar-Athlete Awards for the 2022-23 school year, presented by Farm Bureau Insurance, have been announced.
The program, in its 34th year, has recognized student-athletes since the 1989-90 school year and again this winter will honor 32 individuals from MHSAA member schools who participate in at least one sport in which the Association sponsors a postseason tournament.
Farm Bureau Insurance underwrites the Scholar-Athlete Awards and will present a $2,000 scholarship to each recipient. Since the beginning of the program, 896 scholarships have been awarded.
Scholarships will be presented proportionately by school classification, with 12 scholarships to be awarded to Class A student-athletes, six female and six male; eight scholarships will be awarded to Class B student-athletes, four female and four male; six scholarships will be awarded to Class C student-athletes, three female and three male; and four scholarships will be awarded to Class D student-athletes, two female and two male. In addition, two scholarships will be awarded at-large to minority recipients, regardless of school size.
Every MHSAA member high school could submit as many applications as there are scholarships available in its classification and could have more than one finalist. Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood has four finalists and Kalamazoo Loy Norrix and Midland Dow have three finalists this year. Twelve schools have two finalists: Ada Forest Hills Eastern, Cass City, Fenton, Hillsdale Academy, Holland, Holland Christian, Milford, Negaunee, Northville, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary, South Lyon East, and Tecumseh.
Multiple-sport participation remains the norm among applicants. The average sport participation rate of the finalists is 2.88. There are 74 three-plus sport participants in the finalists field, and all but two of the 28 sports in which the MHSAA sponsors postseason tournaments are represented.
Of 421 schools which submitted applicants, 25 submitted the maximum allowed. This year, 1,440 applications were received. All applicants will be presented with certificates commemorating their achievement. Additional Scholar-Athlete information, including a complete list of scholarship nominees, can be found on the Scholar-Athlete page.
The applications were judged by a 65-member committee of school coaches, counselors, faculty members, administrators and board members from MHSAA member schools. Selection of the 32 scholarship recipients will take place in early February. Class C and D scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 7, Class B scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 14 and Class A scholarship recipients will be announced Feb. 21. All announcements will be made on the MHSAA Website.
To be eligible for the award, students must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.50 (on a 4.0 scale) and previously have won a varsity letter in at least one sport in which the MHSAA sponsors a postseason tournament. Students also were asked to respond to a series of short essay questions, submit two letters of recommendation and a 500-word essay on the importance of sportsmanship in educational athletics.
Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan was founded in 1949 by Michigan farmers who wanted an insurance company that worked as hard as they did. Those values still guide the company today and are a big reason why it is known as Michigan’s Insurance Company, dedicated to protecting the farms, families, and businesses of this great state. Farm Bureau Insurance agents across Michigan provide a full range of insurance services—life, home, auto, farm, business, retirement, Lake Estate®, and more—protecting nearly 500,000 Michigan policyholders.
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.
2022-23 Scholar-Athlete Award Finalists
GIRLS CLASS A
Daria Igonin, Belleville
Ella Blank, Birmingham Groves
Ella Thomas, Brownstown Woodhaven
Keira Tolmie, Clarkston
Nora Chamas, Dearborn
Miryam El-Saghir, Dearborn Edsel Ford
Abigail Frushour, DeWitt
Rachel Williamson, East Grand Rapids
Naomi Sowa, East Lansing
Adrienne Staib, Fenton
Abigail Cumings, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central
Ella Eitniear, Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills
Sophia Borowski, Grosse Pointe North
Eva Whiteman, Holland
Ana Dunfee, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
Wendy Miedema, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
Colleen Blackwood, Linden
Kathleen Doneth, Mason
Caroline Colt, Milford
Leah Merriam, Milford
Sophia Hekkema, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer
Jane Barnett, Royal Oak
Kate Mazur, South Lyon East
Amyla Eberhart, South Lyon East
BOYS CLASS A
Henry Jackson, Bloomfield Hills
Connor Anderson, Cadillac
Isaac David Clark, Caledonia
Braylen Himmelein, Davison
Nathan Katic, Fenton
Isaac Postema, Grand Haven
Ryan Lee, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern
Brayden Ryan LaCroix, Grandville
Brendan Downey, Grosse Pointe South
James R. Baer, Holland
Treyton William Carr, Hudsonville
James Rocco, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix
James Patterson Jr., Lake Orion
Shubhan Nagarkar, Midland Dow
Danny Safadi, Midland Dow
Jack Bakus, Midland Dow
Gavyn Stout, Muskegon Mona Shores
Abhinav Attaluri, Northville
David Whitaker, Northville
Samuel Gibson, Plainwell
Harsimmer Sohi, Portage Central
Shane Pitcher, Saline
Ian Robertson, Traverse City West
Trevor Wallar, Zeeland West
GIRLS CLASS B
Devin Johnston, Almont
Rylie Haist, Big Rapids
Jordan Richie, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Anna Smith, Clawson
Carney Salo, Escanaba
Ella Wagner, Essexville Garber
Lauren Harrold, Flint Powers Catholic
Tiffany Keller, Frankenmuth
Ainsley VandenBrink, Holland Christian
Claire Filpus, Houghton
Elaina Bortolini, Kingsford
Matelyn Midkiff, Midland Bullock Creek
Rachel Niskanen, Negaunee
Molly McNitt, Paw Paw
Chesney Wilke, Tecumseh
Allison Tate, Whitehall
BOYS CLASS B
Sreejay Ramakrishnan, Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Jacob Pallo, Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Aiden Eric Smith, Adrian
Evan Jose Evans, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
John Kersh, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Nathan Hooker, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood
Jacob Fenbert, Dundee
Michael App, Grand Rapids Catholic Central
James Oosterhouse, Holland Christian
Matthew Bowman, Milan
Philip Nelson, Negaunee
Grant H. Harkness, Newaygo
Nicholas Liparoto, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep
Isaiah Pelc, Portland
Aldo Barba, Tecumseh
Camden Johnecheck, Williamston
GIRLS CLASS C
Tailor Onstott, Beal City
Saylar Cuthrell, Cass City
Kylie McGrath, Cass City
Claire Scholten, Charlevoix
Ruby Sierer, Clinton
Quinn Watts, Fowler
Danni Swihart, Hanover-Horton
Aziza Burgoon, Iron Mountain
Abigail Meyer, Marlette
Alaina Andrews, Ottawa Lake Whiteford
Laina Harger, St. Charles
Samantha Dietz, Watervliet
BOYS CLASS C
Logan Pflug, Cassopolis
Seth Vanderwest, Kent City
Ethan Green, Kingston
Andrew Mleczko, Madison Heights Bishop Foley
Grant Mason, Manistique
Blake O'Connor, Maple City Glen Lake
Brock Murphy, Menominee
Riley DeSarbo, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central
Ty Kohlmann, New Lothrop
Noah Etnyre, Plymouth Christian Academy
Brennan Cannaday, Royal Oak Shrine Catholic
Dirk Rierson, Unionville-Sebewaing
GIRLS CLASS D
Kylie Quist, Athens
Kasandra Lynn Waldi, Chesterfield Austin Catholic
Megan Roberts, Hillsdale Academy
Emma Case, Kinde North Huron
Monique Brisson, Munising
Makennah Uotila, Ontonagon
Gabriella Wenzel, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary
Macey Springer, Three Oaks River Valley
BOYS CLASS D
Ryan McDonell, Bay City All Saints
Luke Walker, Clarkston Everest Collegiate
Amos Norland, Dollar Bay
Brody Appelgren, Hillman
Caleb Diener, Hillsdale Academy
Matthew Zammit, Marine City Cardinal Mooney
James Blackburn, Martin
Caleb Munson, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary
PHOTO A group including 27 of last season's 32 MHSAA-Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Award winners take a photo together during the banquet at Breslin Center.