D4 Preview: Defending a Dynasty
D4 Preview: Defending a Dynasty
Cheer
Posted Friday, March 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Michigan Center has built a Division 4 dynasty with its five MHSAA competitive cheer titles over the last six seasons.

But the Cardinals will have to fend another former dynasty this weekend if they are to extend that impressive streak.

Seven-time champ Breckenridge arguably is the favorite entering Saturday’s meet, which begins at 2 p.m., and eight-time champ Pewamo-Westphalia is in the mix again as well. 

Following are glances at all eight Division 4 teams competing at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex. All four Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a subscription basis.

BRECKENRIDGE
Rank: No. 1.
League finish: Second in Tri-Valley Conference West.
Co-coaches: Deb Gaines, 29th season; Jenna Graham, seventh season.
Championship history: Seven MHSAA titles (most recent 2007), one runner-up finish.
Top score: 768.46.
Team composition: 16 total (seven juniors, five sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: In its second season back as a program, Breckenridge ascended to the top rank heading into the postseason and won its District and Regional the last two weekends. Total, the Huskies have won 10 events and own the highest scores per round and overall in Division 4. They finished fifth in Division 4 in 2014 after six seasons without a program, but this time return all-state first-team sophomore Alexandria Gillis, second-team junior Lindsey Reichard and sophomore Madison Smith and honorable mention junior Alicia Gutierrez and sophomore Harley Conklin.

HART
Rank: No. 7.
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference.
Coach: Jennifer Hlady, eighth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 705.72.
Team composition: 13 total (three seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Hlady started the Hart competitive program in 2007-08 and has led the team to five straight league titles and back to the Finals after it missed last season. The Pirates have finished third or better in all of their events this winter and won their District for the second time in three years. Sophomore Erika Wadel made the all-region second team last season.

HOUGHTON LAKE
Rank: No. 2.
League finish: First in Jack Pine Conference.
Coach: Celeste Kubiak, ninth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 754.1.
Team composition: 11 total (six seniors, four juniors, one freshman).
Outlook: Houghton Lake finished sixth at last season’s Final but should be in contention Saturday after posting the second-highest Round 1 (234.1), Round 2 (222.2) and overall scores in Division 4 this season. The Bobcats won 12 of their first 13 events this winter, finishing second only at the early-season Merrill Invitational. Senior Lauren Hooper made the all-state first team in 2014, while senior Vanessa Wallace made the second and senior Brooklyn Cryderman earned an honorable mention.

HUDSON
Rank: No. 4.
League finish: Second in Lenawee County Athletic Association.
Coach: Kelly Bailey, 18th season.
Championship history: Four runner-up finishes (most recent 2010).
Top score: 742.12 at the Regional.
Team composition: 18 total (three seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Hudson has finished third in Division 4 the last three seasons and enters with the fifth-best scores in all three rounds and overall this winter. The Tigers have scored 727 or better four times including in their last three events. Junior Takota Voelzke made the all-state first team last season, while seniors Rianna Middleton and Cassee Milligan made the second and senior Shian Beekel earned honorable mention.

MANISTIQUE
Rank: No. 8.
League finish: Does not participate in a league.
Coach: Lisa Selling, first season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 694.86.
Team composition: 10 total (five seniors, two juniors, two sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: The Emeralds are returning to the Finals for the sixth time in seven seasons after improving one spot to seventh last winter. Manistique also came downstate earlier this season and took fourth among a strong field at the Merrill Invitational. Senior Becca Bowers made the all-state first team in 2014, and senior Katie Davis made the second team.

MICHIGAN CENTER
Rank: No. 3.
League finish: First in Cascades Conference.
Coach: Jessica Trefry, 14th season.
Championship history: Five Division 4 titles (most recent 2014).
Top score: 750.78.
Team composition: 16 total (seven seniors, six juniors, three sophomores).
Outlook: The Cardinals are second only to Breckenridge in average overall score this year and have posted three of their top five scores over the last four events. A number of last season’s standouts will lead again Saturday; senior Michele Martin and junior Victoria Corwin are returning all-state first-teamers, while seniors Emily Kellogg and Ashley Sierminski and junior Olivia Manke made the second team and senior Vivian Horsch and junior Kali Stiles earned honorable mentions.

PEWAMO-WESTPHALIA
Rank: No. 6
League finish: Does not participate in a league.
Coach: Staci Myers, eighth season.
Championship history: Eight MHSAA titles (most recent 2010), nine runner-up finishes.
Top score: 746.08 at the Regional.
Team composition: 13 total (six seniors, four sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Pewamo-Westphalia missed last season’s Finals by one spot at Regionals but are back this weekend looking to build on three straight Finals runner-up finishes from 2011-13. The Pirates have pushed their scores upward throughout the season and rank among the top four in the division for high scores in each round and overall. Senior Jilian Jegla made the all-region first team last season.

SHELBY
Rank: Unranked.
League finish: Second in West Michigan Conference.
Coach: Penny Grinage-Guy, 17th season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 690.8.
Team composition: 16 total (two seniors, nine juniors, four sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: Shelby is headed back to the Finals for the first time since 2012. The team has only two seniors but a veteran coach in Grinage-Guy, who formerly coached at Otsego and Zion-Benton Township in Illinois during the 1980s and 90s and also at Western Michigan University. The Tigers have finished among the top three in their last six events, finishing second to Hart in both the league and District. Juniors Rebecca Kukla and Brittany Shellhouse made the all-district first team last season.

PHOTO: Breckenridge finished fifth in Division 4 last season with a roster of all underclassmen, but is the likely favorite Saturday. 


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