Battle of the Fans X: Meet the Finalists
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 24, 2022
Two past champions and a first-time applicant have earned opportunities to vie for the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s “Battle of the Fans X” championship recognizing the top high school student cheering section in Michigan, as awarded by the MHSAA’s Student Advisory Council.
Buchanan, Midland Dow and Traverse City West were selected as finalists by the Advisory Council from a group of nine semifinalists that took part in a series of 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 the MHSAA’s Second Half website.
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 channels. This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 18 and recognized March 25 during the Boys Basketball Semifinals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
Buchanan is a three-time BOTF champ (2013, 2018 and 2020) and has reached the final round for the fourth-straight competition. Traverse City West was the winner in 2016 and has been a semifinalist seven times since 2014. Midland Dow entered the competition this school year for the first time.
The MHSAA will visit the finalists for the following home boys basketball games (unless noted):
Jan. 28: Midland Dow vs Midland (at Midland High)
Feb. 4: Buchanan vs South Haven
Feb. 8: Traverse City West vs Ludington
Howell, North Muskegon and Spring Lake filled out the next three spots, while Imlay City, Petersburg Summerfield and Yale also were semifinalists.
“After the pandemic cancelled the competition in 2021, it’s no surprise that two schools with rich student section histories made the final three this year,” said Andy Frushour, the MHSAA’s director of brand management and advisor to the Student Advisory Council.
“The Herd from Buchanan and the Bleacher Creatures at Traverse City West have to be considered the favorites going into the final round. They have been in this position many times, winning four of the nine championships. But don’t sleep on Midland Dow; we could tell right away this first-time challenger would be a contender, and this section has been strong all year long.”
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 TikTok, 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 five mandatory challenges, and up to a total of 20, and highlight them in a three-minute TikTok. The 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. Descriptions of all 20 challenges are available on the MHSAA Website.
Let's meet the finalists:
BUCHANAN - THE HERD
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@theherd_bhs #MHSAABOTF2022 @mhsaasports ♬ The Nights - Avicii
@dowstudentsection Herbs House 💛💚 semifinals #mhsaabotf2022 @mhsaasports ♬ this is what falling in love feels like - JVKE
TRAVERSE CITY WEST - BLEACHER CREATURES
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@tcwbleachercreatures 🚨ATTENTION WEST WINNERS🚨 💯FINALS IMMINENT💯 @mhsaasports #mhsaabotf2022 ♬ original sound - Tcw BC
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.
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 web 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.
A record-tying 27 schools applied for this year’s contest, including 14 schools for the first time. Three semifinalists each were selected from the Class A, Class B and Class C/D applicants. See below for a compilation of highlights from all nine semifinalists:
@mhsaasports 🚨𝙱𝙰𝚃𝚃𝙻𝙴 𝙾𝙵 𝚃𝙷𝙴 𝙵𝙰𝙽𝚂 𝚇🚨Congrats to all 9 Semifinalists! #MHSAABOTF2022 #battleofthefans #letsgo #sportsmanship #MHSAA #fyp ♬ Let's go! - Official Sound Studio
Performance of the Week: Grand Ledge's Alaina Yaney
March 17, 2023
Alaina Yaney ♦ Grand Ledge
Senior ♦ Gymnastics
After finishing runner-up by just half a point as a junior, Yaney closed her high school gymnastics career Saturday with the Division 1 all-around championship, posting an all-around score of 38.075 and with first places on balance beam (9.475) and vault (9.700). She also tied for second on floor exercise (9.575) and finished third on uneven parallel bars (9.325). Her vault score tied for 16th-highest in Division 1 Finals competition all-time.
Not surprisingly, Yaney also was her Regional's all-around champion (37.550). She also helped Grand Ledge finish eighth in Friday's Team Final competition, with her 37.475 the highest all-around score that day, before the next afternoon becoming the eighth Comets gymnast to win the Finals' Division 1 individual championship. A gymnast since age 3, Yaney will continue academically at Central Michigan Univerrsity and is considering attempting to walk-on the gymnastics team.
@mhsaasports 🤸♀️POW: Alaina Yaney #performanceoftheweek #gymnast #allaround #beam #vault #firstplace #gymnastics #statechamp #champion #individual #record #grandledge #comets #congrats #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok #mistudentaid #fyp @alaina_yaney ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat
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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.
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March 2: Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23: Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16: Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
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Jan. 26: Shayne Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
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Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17: Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
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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
PHOTO Grand Ledge's Alaina Yaney competes during Friday's Team Final at White Lake Lakeland. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)