Battle of the Fans IX: Meet the Finalists

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

January 27, 2020

An annual power boasting two title banners, another return finalist that impressed for the first time a year ago, and one of the earliest contenders in contest history have earned opportunities to vie for the MHSAA's “Battle of the Fans IX” championship recognizing the top high school student cheering section in Michigan, as awarded by the MHSAA’s Student Advisory Council. 

Buchanan, Saginaw Heritage and Zeeland East were selected as finalists by the Advisory Council from a group of nine semifinalists that took part in a series of social media challenges highlighting their sections over the last two weeks.

Members of the MHSAA staff will visit all three finalists over the next three weeks, producing articles about each section and videos of those sections in action, all to be published on Second Half.

The winner will be selected by another vote by the 16-member Advisory Council, with consideration given to a public vote on the MHSAA’s social media sites. This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 21 and recognized March 27 at the Breslin Center.

Buchanan and Heritage were finalists a year ago. Buchanan is seeking its third BOTF championship to go with those won in 2013 and 2018 and also made the finals in 2014 and 2015. Heritage was a first-time finalist last year, and Zeeland East was a finalist for Battle of the Fans II in 2013.

The MHSAA will visit the finalists for the following home boys basketball games: 

Feb. 7: Saginaw Heritage vs. Midland Dow
Feb. 11: Buchanan vs. Watervliet
Feb. 14: Zeeland East vs. Hamilton

Reese and Traverse City West tied for fourth in this round of voting, just missing claiming the third finalist spot. Caro, Frankenmuth, Hart and Petersburg Summerfield also were semifinalists.

“Some real heavyweights are in the final three this year,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council.

Buchanan has been a finalist in six of the last seven years for good reason – The Herd is a genuine part of the school and community culture. Heritage is in the finals for the second straight year after coming up just short of getting the banner in 2019. Zeeland East is a finalist for the first time since 2013, but the west side of the state is known for having great student and community support at games. The Chix think this might be their year.”

Let's meet the finalists: 

 
 

BUCHANAN - THE HERD

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SAGINAW HERITAGE - HAWK NEST

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ZEELAND EAST - THE COOP

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Battle of the Fans is organized by MHSAA staff and the Student Advisory Council. Schools were invited throughout the fall to submit short videos, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action. The Advisory Council then selected nine semifinalists to accomplish a list of tasks showing off their sections over a 12-day span.

Semifinalists were required to complete 10 challenges via their social media channels. Five mandatory challenges focused on contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and overall fun. Semifinalists then selected five elective challenges (taken from a list of 15 opportunities). Descriptions of all 20 challenges are available on the MHSAA Website.

A total of 20 schools applied for this year’s contest – including nine first-time applicants. Three semifinalists each were selected from the Class A, Class B and Class C/D applicants. See below for a playlist of all 20 applicants.

The contest is sponsored in part by the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, which promotes Michigan's locally-produced dairy products and nutrition education. Rules plus links to past years’ coverage of the contest can be found on the MHSAA's BOTF site.

The Student Advisory Council is made up of eight seniors and eight juniors who each serve two-year terms. The Council acts as the voice of Michigan's student-athletes; it serves as a student sounding board for the MHSAA's Representative Council, assists in planning Sportsmanship Summits, Captains Clinics and other student leadership events; participates in a yearly focus group about the state of high school sports for Michigan State University's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports and assists with medal ceremonies at MHSAA championship events.

Performance of the Week: Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Claire Marosi

June 13, 2024

Claire Marosi headshotClaire Marosi ♦ Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Senior ♦ Lacrosse

The Cougars’ standout midfielder capped one of the highest-scoring seasons in MHSAA history with two goals and two assists as Grand Rapids Catholic Central edged Detroit Country Day in the Division 2 Final to win its first championship since 2011 and finish this season 23-0.

Marosi finished with 154 goals and 34 assists this spring; her goals rank third all-time for a single season and her 188 points were fourth-most on that list. She’ll continue her career at Northwestern, which finished NCAA Division I runner-up this year after winning the title in 2023. She's interested in studying communications. Marosi also played basketball and ran cross country as a senior, and previously ran track as well.

@mhsaasports 🥍POW: Claire Marosi #lacrosse #GRCC #letsgo #champion #goal #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🥍POW: Claire Marosi #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #bridgerton #yoga #hearthands #emoji #car #rolos #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.

MHSAA.com's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). 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 Twitter @mistudentaid.

Past 2023-24 Honorees

June 6: Emmry Ross, Onsted track & field - Report
May 31:
Isaac Sturgess, Flint Powers Catholic baseball - Report
May 30:
Abby Russell, Allen Park track & field - Report 
May 23:
Isabel Thelen, St. Johns tennis - Report
May 16:
Ally Katinas, Novi lacrosse - Report
May 9:
Peter Roehl, Rochester Adams golf - Report
May 2:
Lilah Smith, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Report
April 25:
Mason Mayne, Lawton track & field - Report
April 18:
Alli Wright, Jenison softball - Report
April 11:
Chloe Wishart, Trenton soccer - Report
March 28:
Jenna Maki, Ishpeming basketball - Report
March 22:
Jaremiah Palmer, Niles Brandywine basketball - Report
March 15:
Leah Hodge, North Farmington gymnastics - Report
March 8:
Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Report
March 1:
Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Photo by Jamie McNinch/RunMichigan.com.)