Congratulations, “Battle of the Fans X” semifinalists, for qualifying for this year’s “Challenge Round.” In doing so, you’ve already met and overcome a pair of significant challenges as you seek to show Michigan why your student section is the state’s best.
First, you’ve managed this despite COVID-19. Not much more explanation needed there.
Second, you’ve qualified from a record-tying number of applicants to advance and earn this opportunity.
Nine student cheering sections from MHSAA member schools have been selected from the first phase of BOTF X to take part in the “Challenge Round” as they vie for this year’s championship: Howell, Midland Dow and Traverse City West from Class A; Imlay City, Spring Lake and Yale from Class B; and Buchanan, North Muskegon and Petersburg Summerfield from Class C/D.
Battle of the Fans X, organized by MHSAA staff and its 16-member Student Advisory Council, kicked off by inviting schools to submit short videos, via TikTok, of their cheering sections in action by Jan. 8. 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. 18 and recognized March 25 during the MHSAA Boys Basketball Semifinals at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center.
Semifinalists are required to complete up to 20 BOTF challenges and submit documentation via TikTok by 11 p.m. on Jan. 22. 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.
The list of challenges allows semifinalists opportunities to show the unique characteristics that make their sections elite. The full list of challenges can be found on the MHSAA Website.
“With limited attendance at games last year, students have been excited to get back to fields and gyms this year to support their classmates,” said Andy Frushour, MHSAA director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council. “We know this pandemic isn’t yet over, and student sections haven’t taken their attendance for granted. Every game is special, and student sections are excited to continue participation in this contest.
“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. 24 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 X should include the hashtag #MHSAABOTF2022. The MHSAA will share semifinalists’ challenge TikToks over the next two weeks. The MHSAA also will post from the three finalists visits on those channels.
A record-tying 27 schools applied for this year’s contest, including 14 schools for the first time to bring the total to 119 member schools that have applied for the contest at least once over its 10-year existence.
Buchanan and Traverse City West both have applied eight times and will compete in the semifinals for the fourth-straight competition. Buchanan was the BOTF champion in 2013, 2018 and 2020, and West won in 2016. North Muskegon is a semifinalist for the second time after winning the BOTF title in 2019.
Petersburg Summerfield advanced to the semis for the third-straight time, while Yale advanced past the first round for the third time (and first since 2016). Imlay City advanced for the first time after three previous attempts, and Howell, Spring Lake, and Midland Dow are all first-time applicants.
“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 as they prepare to make a run at reaching the ‘state finals.’ We’re excited to see the creativity and positivity of the nine semifinalists.”
The other first-time applicants were Carsonville-Port Sanilac, Detroit Catholic Central, Freeland, Grosse Pointe North, Okemos, Plymouth Christian Academy, Portage Central, Sanford Meridian, Spring Lake, Troy and Utica Eisenhower.
Click to view all applications on TikTok.
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 page.
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.
VIDEOS: Below, check out the videos from our visits to all of the first nine 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
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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.)