Congratulations, Battle of the Fans IX semifinalists. You've made it to the "Challenge Round."
Consider this quite an accomplishment – but also an incredible opportunity to give the rest of Michigan an inside look at why your student section should be crowned the state's best.
Nine student cheering sections from Michigan High School Athletic Association member schools have been selected from the first phase of this year’s “Battle of the Fans IX” contest to take part in the “Challenge Round” as they vie for this year’s championship recognizing the top section in the state.
This year’s nine semifinalists are Saginaw Heritage, Traverse City West and Zeeland East from Class A; Buchanan, Caro and Frankenmuth from Class B; and Hart, Petersburg Summerfield and Reese from Class C/D.
Battle of the Fans IX, organized by MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council, kicked off by inviting schools to submit short videos, via YouTube, of their cheering sections in action by Jan. 11. The Advisory Council has selected nine semifinalists to accomplish a list of tasks showing off their sections over the next 12 days – and the Council will then select three finalists for MHSAA visits.
This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 21 and recognized March 27 during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
Semifinalists are required to complete 10 challenges via their social media channels by 11 p.m. on Jan. 25. Five mandatory challenges focus on contest criteria: positive sportsmanship, student body participation, school spirit, originality of cheers, organization of the group, student section leadership and overall fun.
Five elective challenges (taken from a list of 15 options) will allow semifinalists opportunities to show the unique characteristics that make their sections elite. Click for descriptions of all 20 challenges.
“This year’s semifinalists feature some heavyweights of past BOTF competitions, but also some faces we haven’t seen in a while,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. “Over the next two weeks, we’ll learn a lot about what these student sections bring to every game night.”
The Student Advisory Council will select the finalists for announcement Jan. 27 on Second Half. MHSAA staff and Student Advisory Council members will visit all three finalists for home basketball games during the second half of this regular season, with coverage and video from those visits and the announcement of the winner all to be published on Second Half.
The winner will be selected by another Advisory Council vote based in part on support each section receives on the MHSAA’s social media sites. All social media postings regarding Battle of the Fans IX should include the hashtag #BOTF. The MHSAA will share semifinalists’ challenge posts over the next two weeks on its Instagram, Twitter and Facebook sites. The MHSAA also will post from the three finalists visits on those channels.
A total of 20 schools applied for this year’s contest, including nine schools for the first time to bring the total to 105 member schools that have applied for the contest at least once over its eight-year existence.
Buchanan and Traverse City West both have applied seven times and will compete in the semifinals for the third-straight year. Buchanan was the BOTF champion in 2013 and 2018, and West won in 2016. Saginaw Heritage and Petersburg Summerfield also are repeat semifinalists; Heritage advanced to the finals as well in 2019.
Frankenmuth was the BOTF champion in 2012 and 2017 and also a finalist in 2013 and 2014. Zeeland East was a finalist in 2013, and Reese was a finalist in 2012. Hart and Caro are first-time semifinalists – Hart in its second time applying for BOTF and Caro as a first-time applicant.
“We’re basically in the ‘Regional’ round now if you compare this competition to our other tournaments,” Frushour said. “This group of nine is just getting warmed up and preparing for making it to the ‘state finals.’ We’re excited to see the creativity and positivity of the nine semifinalists.”
The other first-time applicants were Fremont, Grosse Ile, Grosse Pointe South, Howell, Lake Fenton, Melvindale, Morenci and Stevensville Lakeshore. Reigning BOTF champion North Muskegon did not apply for this year’s competition. Click to view all applications on YouTube.
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 Website.
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.
PHOTO: Saginaw Heritage "battles" for the BOTF VIII championship in 2019. VIDEOS: Below, check out the videos from our visits to all of the first eight BOTF champions.
Shayna Hruska ♦ Iron Mountain
Junior ♦ Wrestling
With an 8-2 decision win in the 106-pound final Saturday, Hruska became the first female champion at the annual Upper Peninsula Championships, and she then was selected the event’s “Outstanding Wrestler” for going 3-0 also with pins in her first two matches of the tournament. Those victories improved her record to 18-6 this season.
Hruska began wrestling in third grade and finished fourth at 97 pounds as a freshman at the 2021 Michigan Wrestling Association Girls Championships. She then finished second at her District to reach Regionals competing in the bracket with the boys last season. She entered last week’s U.P. Championships title coming off a runner-up finish at the Escanaba Elks Invitational on Jan. 7 and the championship at 106 at Kingsford’s Ray Mariucci Wrestling Invitational on Jan. 14.
@mhsaasports 🤼♀️POW: Shayna Hruska #performanceoftheweek #wrestling #upchampionship #outstandingwrestler #congrats #meetchamp #uppower #mountaineers #ironmountain #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok #mistudentaid #fyp @shaynahruska ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat
Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.
MHSAA.com's "Performance of the Week" features 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 Twitter @mistudentaid.
Jan. 19: Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20: Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16: Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9: Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2: Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17: Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10: Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3: Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27: Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20: Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13: Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6: Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30: Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22: Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15: Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8: Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1: Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25: Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report
(Photos courtesy of the Iron Mountain High School athletic department.)