D2 Preview: Hopefuls Chase Carlson
D2 Preview: Hopefuls Chase Carlson
Cheer
Posted Friday, March 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

No MHSAA Final in any sport has produced as consistent a series of finishes as the Division 2 Competitive Cheer Final over the last four seasons.

Gibraltar Carlson on Saturday is chasing a fifth straight title. Dearborn Divine Child has finished runner-up the last four seasons and will pursue a first championship – as will five others – when competition begins at 10 a.m.

Following are glances at all eight Division 2 teams competing at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex. All four Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a subscription basis.

ALLEN PARK

Rank: No. 3.
League finish: Third in Downriver League.
Coach: Julie Goodwin, 10th season.
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2010, runner-up 2008.
Top score: 771.5.
Team composition: 25 total (11 seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: Allen Park moved up to third last season after two straight fourth places and could be poised to take another step. The Jaguars finished third at both their District and Regional but first or second at all but one event during the regular season – and that event was the championship meet for one of the strongest cheer leagues in the state. Senior Courtney Felt made the all-state first team last season and seniors Alicia Buhnerkemper and Katelyn Szwed earned honorable mentions.

DEARBORN DIVINE CHILD
Rank: No. 4.
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League.
Coach: Amber Genevich, 10th season.
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Top score: 771.9 at the District.
Team composition: 20 total (six seniors, three juniors, nine sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: Divine Child continued to push Gibraltar Carlson for the championship last season, falling fewer than eight points from a first title. The Falcons came within six of Carlson in finishing second at both the District and Regional, and their best scores for each round all rank among the top five posted in Division 2 this winter. Seniors Kaelah O’Brien, Laura Kastler and Hanna Korpics made the all-state second team last season, and senior Maggie Marion earned an honorable mention.

DEWITT
Rank: No. 2.
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Red.
Coach: Candace Heskitt, seventh season.
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2007.
Top score: 781.30 at the District.
Team composition: 23 total (four seniors, 12 juniors, three sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: The Panthers have won four straight Regional championships and finished fifth at the last two Division 2 Finals – but look like a strong possibility to move up. DeWitt also won 10 of 13 events this season, with two seconds and a third place as well, and its top overall score is the best in Division 2. Senior Katlyn Sweeney and junior Abigail Wassom both made the all-state second team last season.

GIBRALTAR CARLSON
Rank: No. 1.
League finish: First in Downriver League.
Coach: Ayrn Ziesmer, first season.
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2014), four runner-up finishes.
Top score: 779.04.
Team composition: 19 total (two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, 11 freshmen).
Outlook: New coach and more than half the team new to high school – same results so far. Carlson is seeking its fifth straight title and sixth in seven seasons now under Ziesmer, a former assistant for reigning Division 1 champion Southgate Anderson. Carlson has posted the top Round 2 (229.22) and Round 3 (318.6) scores in Division 2 this season and the top average overall score (768.164) by more than six points. Junior Tahlia Hamilton made the all-state second team last season and junior Angelique Voden earned honorable mention.

GRAND RAPIDS KENOWA HILLS
Rank: No. 6.
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Black.
Coach: Chris Hudson, fifth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 760.68.
Team composition: 19 total (two seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores, six freshmen).
Outlook: Kenowa Hills is back at the Finals after missing the last two seasons and despite seeing league and District title streaks end – the Knights still finished a strong second at both. Kenowa Hills has posted scores that rank among the top 10 in the division this season for every round and has been especially strong in Round 2, where its best of 316.6 ranks fourth. Junior Bri Hardy made the all-region second team last season.

MIDDLEVILLE THORNAPPLE KELLOGG
Rank: No. 7.
League finish: First in O-K Gold.
Coach: Abby Kanitz, eighth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 775.42.
Team composition: 22 total (three seniors, four juniors, nine sophomores, six freshmen).
Outlook: Thornapple Kellogg is back for its second straight Final and after winning its fifth straight league title. The Trojans finished sixth in Division 2 last year and are coming off their second-highest score of the season, 762.32, to finish second at their Regional. Thornapple Kellogg’s best Round 2 (228.62) and Round 3 (318.1) and overall scores all rank third in Division 2 this winter. Senior Katie Bowling made the all-state second team and senior Taylor Tyndall earned an honorable mention in 2014.

ORTONVILLE BRANDON
Rank: No. 8.
League finish: First in Flint Metro League.
Coach: Brooke Sharrard, second season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 767.42.
Team composition: 19 total (four seniors, six juniors, six sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: The Blackhawks also are back at the Finals for the first time since 2012, when they finished third in Division 2, and after finishing fourth at a Regional behind the top-three ranked teams overall. They’ve won league and District titles both seasons under Sharrard. Brandon’s best Round 1 score of 233.4 ranks sixth in Division 2 this season, and it has posted its top two overall scores over its last five competitions. Junior Sierra Coughlin made the all-region first team last season.

ST. JOSEPH
Rank: Unranked.
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference.
Coach: Jenna Ruddell, fourth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 763.68 at the District.
Team composition: 24 total (six seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, eight freshmen).
Outlook: The Bears continue to rise under Ruddell, making their third Finals in a row after moving up three spots to finish fourth in 2014. The team finished first at seven events this season and posted its top two scores over the last two events – its best Round 3 score, 314.2, ranks seventh in Division 2 this season. Senior Bailey Hedman made the all-state first team last season, and senior Toria Beckum earned an honorable mention.

PHOTO: Dearborn Divine Child finished second in Division 2 last winter for the fourth straight, but will pursue its first title Saturday. 


Comments

There are currently no comments, be the first to post one.

Post Comment

Name (required)

Email (required)

Website

CAPTCHA image
Enter the code shown above: