D3 Preview: Powers Converge Again
D3 Preview: Powers Converge Again
Cheer
Posted Friday, March 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Three teams that have combined to win the last four Division 3 competitive cheer championships again will contend at Saturday’s MHSAA Final.

Pontiac Notre Dame, Richmond and Comstock Park annually help finish the weekend’s final session, starting at 6 p.m. But five others are seeking their first MHSAA cheer titles – including two that have posted scores among the top four in the division this winter.  

Following are glances at all eight Division 3 teams competing at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex. All four Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a subscription basis.

ARMADA
Rank: No. 5
League finish: Second in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Tammi St. Onge, fourth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 771.12 at the Regional.
Team composition: 26 total (two seniors, nine juniors, three sophomores, 12 freshmen).
Outlook: Armada will return to the Finals for the second straight season after finishing fifth in 2014 and emerging from a District and Regional over the last two weeks that both featured the top two-ranked teams in the division. The Tigers have posted their top two scores of the season the last two weeks and own the top Round 3 score (320.8) in Division 3 this winter – that score also ranks third for all divisions combined. Junior Natalie Groen and sophomore Aja Bagley made the all-region second team last season.

COMSTOCK PARK
Rank: No. 3.
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue.
Coach: Kathy Felty, 25th season.
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2011 and 2009, three runner-up finishes.
Top score: 769.48 at the Regional.
Team composition: 21 overall (11 seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: After a fourth place in 2013, Comstock Park moved back up to second at last season’s Final for its sixth top-two finish in seven seasons. The Panthers won all but four of their competitions this season, finishing second the other times, and have scored 763 points three of their last four events including wins at the District and Regional. A number of veterans will lead the title surge this weekend; seniors Sabrina Arnone and Brianna Pincombe made the all-state first team last season, while senior Hayley Robinson and sophomore Alyssa Geraghty made the second and senior Alexis Donley earned an honorable mention.  

HOWARD CITY TRI-COUNTY
Rank: Unranked.
League finish: Second in Lakes 8 Conference.
Coach: Jennifer Laskey, ninth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 732.72 at the Regional.
Team composition: 19 total (four seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Tri-County will make a second straight trip to the Finals after placing eighth last season. The Vikings also made their fifth straight Regional this winter and posted their top two scores the last two weekends. Senior Emily Rienks and junior Taylor Stressman earned all-region honorable mentions last season.

LAKE ODESSA LAKEWOOD
Rank: No. 4.
League finish: First in Greater Lansing Activities Conference.
Coach: Kim Martin, 21st season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 767.46.
Team composition: 21 total (10 seniors, six juniors, five sophomores).
Outlook: The Vikings are back in the Finals after missing last season and finishing eighth in 2013, and they’ve taken first or second in all of their events this season. Lakewood especially shines in Round 1, where its best score of 235.7 is the best in Division 3. The Vikings finished second in the Regional and earned a District title. Junior Samantha Morrison made the all-region second team in 2014.

ONSTED
Rank: No. 9.
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association.
Coach: Sarah Spears, second season.
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1994.
Top score: 770.66 at the Regional.
Team composition: 22 total (seven seniors, two juniors, six sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: Onsted opened this season with nine first places in its first 10 events and have returned to the MHSAA Finals for the first time since 2007, when Spears was a junior. She’s also led the Wildcats to league titles in both of her seasons and some impressive scores this winter – the top overall score is fourth-highest in Division 3, and their best Round 3 of 317.1 ranks second. Senior Lauren Richardson made the all-region second team last season.

PAW PAW
Rank: No. 10.
League finish: First in Wolverine Conference.
Coach: Stefanie Miller, sixth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 746.68 at the District.
Team composition: 16 total (six seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores).
Outlook: Paw Paw has posted top-seven Finals finishes each of the last three seasons and will enter Saturday having posted two of its top three scores over the last two weekends. The Redskins opened this season by winning eight straight events and have broken 735 points three of the last four. Senior Chloe Bogema made the all-state first team last season, while senior Rylee Cunningham made the second and senior Maya Bishop earned an honorable mention.

PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP
Rank: No. 1.
League finish: Second in the Detroit Catholic League.
Coach: Beth Campbell, third season.
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2014, runner-up 2013.
Top score: 781.08 at the Regional.
Team composition: 29 total (seven seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores, nine freshmen).
Outlook: The reigning Division 3 champion has arguably been even better in 2014-15 with a top score entering the weekend 17 points higher than a year ago. Notre Dame Prep has the top Round 2 (231.18) and overall scores in Division 3 this winter and its average score (763.524) is nearly 12 points higher than the field. The Fighting Irish have broken 760 points in nine of 11 events. Seniors Alysa Gonzalez and Emily Schiavi made the all-state first team last season, while seniors Olivia Riley and Morgan Gales made the second team and juniors Paige Lombardo and Hannah Brzustewicz earned honorable mentions.

RICHMOND
Rank: No. 2.
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Kelli Matthes, seventh season.
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2013 and 2012, runner-up 2011.
Top score: 772.4 at the Regional.
Team composition: 24 total (three seniors, two juniors, 12 sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: The Blue Devils finished fourth last season but have posted the second-highest overall score in Division 3 and have the second-highest average score (751.875) despite a team mostly made up of underclassmen. Seniors Sarahanne Marshall and Angel Deal made the all-state second team last season, and junior Emily Fitzsimons and sophomore Kaleigh Taylor earned honorable mentions. 

PHOTO: Pontiac Notre Dame Prep claimed its first MHSAA title last season after finishing Division 3 runner-up in 2012-13. 


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