Cheer Finals: Familiar Favorites Return
Cheer Finals: Familiar Favorites Return
Cheer
Posted Friday, March 2, 2012

The MHSAA Competitive Cheer finals annually are among the association's best-attended championships.

And a number of this season's contenders are regulars at the Grand Rapids Delta Plex.

Nine of 32 finalists have won a combined 37 MHSAA championships -- out of 63 total -- and five more finalists have finished at least runner-up.

That said, there are plenty of opportunities for new winnters this weekend. Eighteen of this weekend's finalists have never won an MHSAA cheer title.

Below is a quick rundown of all 32 finalists. Division 1 will be contested at 6 p.m. today, with Division 2 at 10 a.m. Saturday followed by Division 4 at 2 p.m. and Division 3 at 6 p.m. Click for Finals rotations and scores as they come in, and watch live on MHSAA.tv.

Division 1


EAST KENTWOOD
Rank: No. 6
League finish: First in O-K Red
Coach: Stacy Sheler, 10th season
Championship history: Two runner-up finishes (most recently 2010).
Top score: 810.1296 (District)
Team composition: 27 total (six seniors, seven juniors, nine sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook:
East Kentwood broke 800 points three times this season, and finished second at its District with that top score. The Falcons have finished MHSAA runner-up twice under Sheler, and peaked at No. 5 in the Division 1 poll this season. Senior Hannah McDonough earned an all-state honorable mention in 2011 after East Kentwood finished third, less than a point from claiming the title.

HARTLAND
Rank:
No. 1
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association
Coach: Amanda Adkins, first season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 804.720 (Regional)
Team composition: 27 total (five seniors, six juniors, nine sophomores, seven freshmen)
Outlook: The Eagles were ranked among the top 10 all season, but shot up from No. 10 to the top spot in the final poll and went on to win their District and Regional. Hartland has come on strong at the end, with its five highest scores – all above 789 – coming in its five most recent events.

HUDSONVILLE
Rank:
No. 2
League finish: Second in O-K Red
Coach: Amanda Cooper, seventh season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 810.0744
Team composition: 31 total (eight seniors, 14 juniors, seven sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: Like Hartland, Hudsonville moved up to its highest ranking in the final poll, and after a fourth-place finish at its District rebounded to finish runner-up at the Regional. The Eagles haven’t scored lower than 801 in their last seven events. Hudsonville finished eighth at the 2011 Final.

GRANDVILLE
Rank:
Unranked
League finish: Fourth in O-K Red
Coach: Julie Smith-Boyd, 31st season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recently 2011), seven runner-up finishes.
Top score: 810.60 (District)
Team composition: 28 total (five seniors, 10 juniors, four sophomores, nine freshmen).
Outlook: A number of top contributors from last season’s MHSAA championship team will be part of the line-up again tonight. Senior Ashley Dykstra is a returning all-stater, while seniors Erin Kishman and Katelyn Schafer made the second team in 2011 and juniors Karlie Fisher and Amanda LaRue earned honorable mentions. Grandville won three of its first five events this winter – and came on again at the end with a District championship.

LAKE ORION
Rank:
No. 9
League finish: Third in Oakland Activities Association Red
Co-coaches: Nancy de Avila and Nicole Perryman, 10th seasons
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 808.0352 (Regional)
Team composition: 34 total (10 seniors, 10 juniors, eight sophomores, six freshmen).
Outlook: After finishing fifth at the 2011 Final, Lake Orion has been among the top 10 all season and as high as No. 4. The Dragons twice scored more than 800 points, with the Regional score good for a fourth-place finish.

ROCHESTER
Rank:
No. 3
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Susan Wood, 31st season
Championship history: 12 MHSAA titles (most recently 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Top score: 811.7296 (Regional)
Team composition: 34 total (15 seniors, 13 juniors, three sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Rochester has been a dynasty under Wood, who at one point led the Falcons to five straight MHSAA championships and more recently two in the last five seasons, with a runner-up finish in between. The upperclassmen-heavy team has scored 808 or better in two of its last three events.

ROCHESTER HILLS STONEY CREEK
Rank:
No. 10
League finish: Second in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Tricia Williams, ninth season
Championship history: Won MHSAA title in 2010.
Top score: 815.7936 (Regional)
Team composition: 23 total (seven seniors, nine juniors, seven sophomores).
Outlook: Williams has led Stoney Creek to three straight top-two finishes in the highly-competitive OAA Red. The Cougars’ other score above 800 this winter came in winning the Lake Orion Invitational, before they also won the Regional. Senior Carly Pascaretta made the all-state second team last season, when Stoney Creek finished sixth in Division 1.

SOUTHGATE ANDERSON
Rank:
No. 5
League finish: First in Downriver League
Coach: Colette Norscia, 13th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 816.5104
Team composition: 27 total (nine seniors, three juniors, 10 sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Southgate Anderson won five of its 10 events this season, including its District, and also finished second at its Regional. The Titans have scored 803 or more points five times. Southgate Anderson finished seventh at last season’s Division 1 Final.

Division 2

ALLEN PARK
Rank:
No. 3
League finish: Third in Downriver Conference
Coach: Laura Hickman, first season
Championship history: Won MHSAA title in 2010, one runner-up finish.
Top score: 781.492 (District)
Team composition: 24 total (seven juniors, eight sophomores, nine freshmen).
Outlook: Coming off last season’s third-place Finals finish, Allen Park finished second in five events – including its Regional – this winter, and won a sixth. Perhaps the best evidence of the Jaguars’ consistency is that they never finished lower than fourth. Junior Madison Horvath earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

BYRON CENTER
Rank:
No. 10
League finish: First in O-K Green
Co-coaches: Kelli Saunders, 11th season; Amy Hass, 14th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 757.408 (Regional)
Team composition: 16 total (nine seniors, four juniors, three sophomores).
Outlook: Byron Center’s top five scores have come in its last five events – with all above 730 points – and including a third place at the District and runner-up finish at the Regional. Byron Center has won three straight league championships and four over the last five seasons.

DEWITT
Rank:
No. 8
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Red
Coach: Candace Heskitt, fourth season
Championship history: Finished runner-up in 2007.
Top score: 764.4076 (Regional)
Team composition: 22 total (nine seniors, eight juniors, two sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: DeWitt has won eight of 11 events this season, including its last five, and posted an impressive second place at the Grandville Invitational. The Panthers have scored 755 or higher in their last three meets. DeWitt made one of the biggest jumps during the postseason after ranking no higher than No. 7 in the state polls.

DEARBORN DIVINE CHILD
Rank:
No. 2
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League
Coach: Amber Genevich, seventh season
Championship history: Finished runner-up in 2011.
Top score: 803.8728
Team composition: 24 total (six seniors, seven juniors, seven sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Divine Child was ranked No. 2 all season except for a week when it tied for the top spot. Aside from a third place at the Regional, Divine Child finished first or second in all of its events this season and never scored fewer than 736 points. Senior Kendall McCausland made the all-state second team last season, and seniors Alexa Zakarian and Shae Lawson earned honorable mentions.

GIBRALTAR CARLSON
Rank:
No. 1
League finish: Second in Downriver League
Coach: Christina Wilson, sixth season
Championship history: Four MHSAA titles (most recently 2011), four runner-up finishes
Top score: 809.3456 (District)
Team composition: 25 total (nine seniors, five juniors, six sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: No team has equaled Gibraltar Carlson’s recent success – it won Division 2 titles in 2011, 2009 and 2008 and was runner-up in 2010. The Marauders won all of their events this season except for the Downriver League Meet, where they finished second to Division 1 Final qualifier Southgate Anderson. Carlson has scored 800 or more points six times, and no fewer than 769. A number of top contributors from last season will compete this weekend: seniors Paige Arrington, Kim Desimpelaere and Courtney Gibson are returning all-state first teamers, senior Alisha Hixson and junior Ann Hajec made the second team last season and senior Carly Williams and junior Whitney Wasielewski earned honorable mentions.

GRAND RAPIDS KENOWA HILLS
Rank:
No. 5
League finish: First in O-K Black/White
Coach: Chris Hudson, second season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 749
Team composition: 21 total (five seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, six freshmen).
Outlook: Kenowa Hills is back at the Finals after finishing eighth in Division 2 last season. Aside from a fourth place at the Regional, the Knights finished first or second at all of their events this season. They’ve scored 745 or more in four of their last five meets.

MIDDLEVILLE THORNAPPLE KELLOGG
Rank:
Unranked
League finish: First in O-K Gold
Coach: Abby Kanitz, fifth season
Championship history: Seeking its first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 752.496 (Regional)
Team composition: 22 total (three seniors, seven juniors, eight sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Thornapple Kellogg started among the ranked before falling out of the poll for the final four weeks of the regular season. But the Trojans came back to finish second in their District and third at their Regional with two of their top three scores this season. And they should continue to improve with more than half of the roster made up of underclassmen.

ORTONVILLE BRANDON
Rank:
No. 4
League finish: First in Flint Metro League
Coach: Jamie Slot, ninth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 782.839
Team composition: 20 total (three seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Ortonville Brandon opened fourth in the state poll and ended in that spot, but was No. 3 every week in between. The Blackhawks strung together three straight finishes of at least 780 points midway through the season, and won seven of 12 events this winter. Ortonville Brandon finished fifth at last season’s Final. Juniors Hanna Foster and Alanna Carpenter made the all-state second team, and junior Rachel Neal earned an honorable mention.

Division 3

BROOKLYN COLUMBIA CENTRAL
Rank:
No. 9
League finish: First in Southern Michigan Activities Association
Coach: Jen Poniatowski, second season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 733.085
Team composition: 21 total (five seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Columbia Central swept the SMAA meets and finished first at five more events before taking second at the District and fourth at the Regional. That top score came at the Mason Invitational, but the Golden Eagles came close last week with a 727.588.

COMSTOCK PARK
Rank:
No. 2
League finish: First in O-K Blue
Coach: Kathy Felty, 19th season
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 2011), two runner-up finishes.
Top score: 756.824
Team composition: 23 total (five seniors, eight juniors, five sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Comstock Park has won both of its titles and posted its two runner-up finishes all over the last four seasons. The Panthers won all but one of their events this season, and scored at least 713 points in all but one as well. Junior Emily Geraghty made the all-state first team last season, and seniors Hannah Vos and Katie Howard earned honorable mentions.

GLADSTONE
Rank:
Unranked
League finish: First in Great Northern Conference
Co-coaches: Hannah Dale and Carrie Muse-Mead, fifth seasons
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 721
Team composition: 19 total (six seniors, three juniors, six sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: The Braves finished fifth at the Division 3 Final last season and were ranked in three of the first four state polls before falling out for the final three. But they dominated especially in the Upper Peninsula before taking second at their District and fourth at their Regional. Senior Laura Alexander made the all-state second team last season, and seniors Hunter Gosewehr and Halie Marmalick earned honorable mentions.

GROSSE ILE
Rank:
No. 5
League finish: First in Huron League
Coach: Jayme Judd, second season
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 2010), one runner-up finish.
Top score: 752.8328
Team composition: 18 total (three seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Seniors Christine Bonamici and Allie Lowler earned all-state honorable mentions last season after helped Grosse Ile to a fourth-place finish in its first Finals appearance under Judd. The Devils have scored at least 718 points in six straight meets and finished at least third in all their events this season – including eight wins.

MIDLAND BULLOCK CREEK
Rank:
No. 10
League finish: Second in Tri-Valley Conference West
Coach: Teresa Allen, fourth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 728.3704
Team composition: 11 total (five seniors, two juniors, three sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Bullock Creek finished first or second at all of its events this season before taking third at both its District and Regional – although the Lancers posted the best Round 1 score at the District and second-best Round 3 at the Regional. After finishing second in its division of the TVC, Bullock Creek won the all-conference championship.

PAW PAW
Rank:
No. 6
League finish: First in Wolverine Conference
Coach: Stefanie Miller, third season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 733.574 (Regional)
Team composition: 21 total (two seniors, three juniors, eight sophomores, eight freshmen).
Outlook: Despite a roster of more than 75 percent underclassmen, Paw Paw has been one of the most consistently strong teams in Division 3 this season. The Redskins scored at least 702 points in 10 of 13 events – the first time in their second meet. They won nine of those meets and posted that top score finishing second at the Regional. Junior Kaleigh Davies made the all-state second team, and junior Tracy Simpkins earned honorable mention as the team finished eighth at last season’s Final.

PONTIAC NOTRE DAME
Rank:
No. 3
League finish: Second in Detroit Catholic High School League
Coach: Rachel Woolbright, fifth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 769.100 (District)
Team composition: 25 total (three seniors, eight juniors, six sophomores, eight freshmen).
Outlook: Notre Dame’s second place finishes this season are a little deceiving – the Fighting Irish posted two of their top three scores as runners-up at the District and Regional, both times to top-ranked Richmond. The Irish also finished second in the Catholic League to Division 2 Final contender Dearborn Divine Child. Notre Dame Prep was third at last season’s Division 3 Final, with senior Julie Pieciak making the all-state first team, senior Gabby Guzzardo making the second and juniors Hannah Genord and Emily Rodriguez earning honorable mentions.

RICHMOND
Rank:
No. 1
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Coach: Kelli Matthes, fourth season
Championship history: Finished runner-up in 2011.
Top score: 800.662
Team composition: 21 total (three seniors, eight juniors, seven sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Richmond’s top score this season would rank third among Division 2 finalists, and the Blue Devils have been putting those numbers up all season – they’ve not scored fewer than 730 points and have broken 793 four times in winning all of their events. Many of the top contributors are back after the team posted its top Finals finish ever last season – senior Alana Timmerman and junior Alyssa Brickel made the all-state first team, juniors Ashley Barrett and Chelsea Wolfe made the second and junior Joanna Fenwick earned an honorable mention.

Division 4

HART
Rank:
No. 6
League finish: Tied for first in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Jennifer Peterson, fifth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 726.100 (Regional)
Team composition: Eight total (one senior, four juniors, two sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Hart opened this season with eight straight first places and has broken 707 points five times, including three of its last five events. The Pirates finished second to Merrill at both the District and the Regional, but missed winning the latter by 27 hundredths of a point.

HUDSON
Rank:
No. 5
League finish: Second in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Kelly Bailey, 15th season
Championship history: Four runner-up finishes (most recently 2010).
Top score: 743.804 (District)
Team composition: 12 total (four seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: Hudson finished runner-up three straight seasons before taking fifth at last season’s Final. But junior Payton Darr made the all-state first team and junior Amanda Rodriguez earned an honorable mention, and they are among leaders for a squad that surged at the end of this season. The Tigers won their District and finished third at their Regional, and have scored at least 707 points in their last three events.

IRON MOUNTAIN
Rank:
No. 10
League finish: Does not compete in a league.
Coach: Jennifer Nagy-Schneider, third season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 724.1724 (District)
Team composition: 10 total (five juniors, two sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Iron Mountain has broken 700 points in each of its last three meets and won a District championship. The Mountaineers were ranked in the last five state polls and peaked at the No. 5 spot. They’ve scored below 680 only twice, and always 654 or higher.

MERRILL
Rank:
No. 3
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference West
Coach: Courtney Schiller, eighth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 727.18
Team composition: Seven total (one senior, five sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Although few in number and nearly all underclassmen, the Vandals ranked among the top three in the final five polls before winning both their District and Regional. Sophomore Alanna Peake earned an all-state honorable mention after Merrill finished sixth at last season’s Final. The Vandals have scored at least 711 points eight times this season, and won all but two of their meets – finishing runner-up at those.

MICHIGAN CENTER
Rank:
No. 1
League finish: First in Cascades Conference
Coach: Jessica Trefry, 11th season
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recently 2011).
Top score: 776.9064
Team composition: 17 total (nine seniors, three juniors, five sophomores).
Outlook: Michigan Center has been ranked No. 1 all season, beat No. 2 Pewamo-Westphalia at both the District and Regional, and is a the heavy favorite to win a second-straight Final and third in four seasons. Most of last season’s championship team is back, and the Cardinals have broken 745 points six times. Seniors Michaela Haller, Emma Stark, Taylor Dodge, Betsy Palacios and Paula Stone all made the all-state first team last season, while junior Megan Shown and seniors Tayler Padelt and Nicole Fosgate made the second and senior Tabitha Sherwood earned an honorable mention.

PEWAMO-WESTPHALIA
Rank:
No. 2
League finish: Does not compete in a league.
Coach: Staci Myers, fifth season
Championship history: Eight MHSAA titles (most recently 2010), seven runner-up finishes.
Top score:  744.2012
Team composition: Eight total (two seniors, one junior, five freshmen).
Outlook: P-W would be considered Division 4’s dynasty, with two championships and two runner-up finishes over the last five seasons – including a second place in 2011. This is one of the Pirates’ younger teams – but junior Brianne Schafer made the all-state second team and seniors Alissa Klein and Amanda Simon earned honorable mentions last season. P-W finished first or second at all of its events this winter.

SHELBY
Rank:
No. 7
League finish: Tied for first in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Penny Grinage-Guy, 14th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 706.958
Team composition: 16 total (12 seniors, four juniors).
Outlook: Shelby has battled tough competition all season – it split a league title with Division 4 finalist Hart, plus competed in the same District and Regional as the Pirates. The league title was Shelby’s eighth straight, and only Division 1 Rochester will bring more seniors to the Finals.

SPRINGPORT
Rank:
Unranked
League finish: Second in Big 8 Conference
Coach: Maxie Ward, third season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 716.760 (Regional)
Team composition: 11 total (four seniors, five juniors, two sophomores).
Outlook: Springport might be the biggest surprise among finalists because it wasn’t ranked this season. But the Spartans are regular contenders in the Big 8, most recently winning that league in 2010 and claiming that championship meet this winter with a score of 696.420. Springport’s top three scores have come during its last four meets.


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