D3 Preview: Numbers Tilt To Favorites
D3 Preview: Numbers Tilt To Favorites
Cheer
Posted Saturday, March 4, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Richmond and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep have combined to win the last five Division 3 competitive cheer championships.

With average overall scores this winter that best the rest of Saturday’s field by 25 points, it’s expected that trend will continue in this season’s final competition – but of course, six more contenders will have something to yell about that starting when Round 1 begins at 6 p.m. at Grand Rapids’ DeltaPlex.

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

COMSTOCK PARK
Rank: No. 8.
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue.
Coach: Kathy Felty, 27th season. 
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2011 and 2009, three runner-up finishes. 
Top score: 750.54.
Team composition: 21 overall (eight seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, three freshmen). 
Outlook: After placing fifth last season without a senior on the team, Comstock Park returns with more experience and championships in the league, District and Regional. The Panthers average the fourth highest score in Division 3 and could return to the top four at the Final for the fourth time in five seasons. Senior Vivian Bjork made the all-state first team last season, while senior Alyssa Geraghty and junior Haleigh Brown made the second team and seniors Heather and Holly Damuth earned honorable mentions.

FLAT ROCK
Rank: No. 10.
League finish: Second in Huron League.
Coach: Tanya Vaughn, third season.
Championship history: Class C-D champion 1998, two runner-up finishes.
Top score: 758.14 at the Regional.
Team composition: 20 total (nine seniors, two juniors, five sophomores, four freshmen). 
Outlook: After reaching the Regional all three seasons under Vaughn, Flat Rock took the next step this winter with a third-place finish to qualify for Saturday. It was one of only two third places all season; the Rams finished first or second at the rest of their events. Senior MaKenzie Ervin made the all-region second team last season and junior Maya Schroeder earned an honorable mention.

HOWARD CITY TRI-COUNTY
Rank: Honorable mention.
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association.
Coach: Jennifer Laskey, 11th season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish. 
Top score: 744.08.
Team composition: 18 total (four seniors, five juniors, six sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: After a year away, Tri-County will compete in its third Final in four seasons and has made the Regionals every season beginning with 2011-12. The fourth place at the Regional this time was the team’s only finish lower than third this winter. Senior Mariah Duncan earned an all-region honorable mention last season.

LAKE ODESSA LAKEWOOD
Rank: No. 6.
League finish: First in Greater Lansing Activities Conference.
Coach: Kim Martin, 26th season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish. 
Top score: 755.12.
Team composition: 21 total (nine seniors, four juniors, six sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: Lakewood improved to sixth last season from eighth in 2015 and won all of its events before notching third places at its District and Regional. Its top Round 1 (233.4) and Round 3 (310.5) scores both rank among the top five in Division 3 this season. Senior Kendall Rooks made the all-region second team in 2016, and senior Riley Eggers earned an honorable mention.

MONROE JEFFERSON
Rank: No. 7.
League finish: First in Huron League.
Coach: Sara Griffin, ninth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 758.1 at the District. 
Team composition: 19 total (three seniors, seven juniors, three sophomores, six freshmen).
Outlook: After moving up to fourth at last season’s Division 3 Final, Jefferson returns with the third highest average overall score in the division and the third-highest Round 2 score (222.7) this winter. The Bears have cleared 740 points six times. Junior Kylie Foland made the all-state second team last season, and sophomore McKinley Gessner earned honorable mention.

PAW PAW
Rank: No. 5.
League finish: First in Wolverine Conference.
Coach: Stefanie Miller, eighth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish. 
Top score: 750.46 at the District. 
Team composition: 18 total (five seniors, eight juniors, one sophomore, four freshmen). 
Outlook: Paw Paw finished seventh last season, its fifth straight placing of seventh or higher, and comes back to the DeltaPlex with 13 upperclassmen. The Redskins won all of their events this season but two, and took first in the league and District before coming in second at the Regional.
Seniors Mary Schincariol and Brianna Eick earned all-region honorable mentions last season.

PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP
Rank: No. 2.
League finish: Does not compete in a league.
Coach: Beth Campbell, fifth season. 
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2016, 2015 and 2014, runner-up 2013.
Top score: 778.52.
Team composition: 22 total (seven seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, five freshmen).
Outlook: The Fighting Irish remain dominant despite second-place finishes to top-ranked Richmond at the District and Regional. They finished second or better in all but one competition, where they finished third, and have scored 760 points or more six times. Notre Dame Prep’s round and overall high scores all rank second to only Richmond’s this winter. Senior Sarah Nantel and juniors McKenna Dooley and Rachel Michel made the all-state second team last season, and seniors Jennifer Redoutey and Anne Seyferth earned honorable mentions.

RICHMOND
Rank: No. 1.
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Kelli Matthes, ninth season.
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2013 and 2012, runner-up three times.
Top score: 784.56.
Team composition: 36 total (11 seniors, five juniors, nine sophomores, 11 freshmen).
Outlook: A large group of juniors that led the team to a runner-up finish last season are now seniors, and they have Richmond the clear favorite with its District and Regional wins just ahead of Notre Dame Prep. Richmond’s average score of 775.3 is more than 12 points higher than Notre Dame’s and nearly 39 higher than the rest of Division 3 – plus it owns the high scores in the division in all three rounds. Seniors Kari Olsen and Kaleigh Taylor made the all-state first team in 2016, and senior Lauren Duche made the second.

PHOTO: Richmond competes during Round 1 at the 2016 Final.

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