By James Cook
Special for Second Half
HARBOR SPRINGS — Marquette is chasing itself.
The Redettes' girls skiing team won its fifth straight Division 1 championship Monday at Boyne Highlands.
That leaves only one team ahead of the current Marquette squad — the 1999-2004 Redettes.
"I know a lot of teams don't really want us to win every year, and they don't like that we always take it," Marquette senior Jacey Johnson said, "but I'm just so happy that we are so good, and it's just really nice to see because we all work so hard."
Johnson claimed the slalom by over a second, finishing off a high school career that included earning all-state honors eight times.
Johnson finished in Michigan's top 10 in seven of eight Ski Finals races she's competed in. The eighth, which included a hike, still resulted in a 20th-place finish and second-team all-state honors two years ago.
Marquette's Ainsley Kirk extended her streak of winning an individual Finals title to three years, taking her first giant slalom championship after being crowned slalom champ the previous two seasons.
Kirk's first run was the best girls GS time of the day at 30:53. Forest Hills Northern-Eastern's Holly Grzelak, a cousin of Kirk's teammates Aaron and Anna Grzelak, finished second by 16 hundredths of a second, tied with Rochester Adams' Kaylee Richardson.
Marquette, which lost in its Regional to Traverse City Central, topped the Trojans this time around.
"It just shows how great Marquette is," said TC Central senior Elizabeth Saunders, who finished second behind Johnson in the slalom. "They're strong and deep, like we are, and next year they have to come out even harder. I won't be around next year, but those girls are going to be in good hands."
Central also topped Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern-Eastern in that Regional, but the Forest Hills squad also snuck ahead of the Trojans this time.
Marquette won with 67 points, 10 ahead of Forest Hills. TC Central was another five back, with Clarkston fourth at 114.
Marquette has lost to Central in Regionals each of the last two years, then came back to win the Finals championships.
"That seems to be the way the last few years," said TC Central sophomore Elle Craven, who placed seventh in slalom and sixth in giant slalom. "We want to break that pattern, though."
The rest of the slalom top 10 consisted of Forest Hills Northern-Eastern's Jenna Grzelak, Clarkston's Courtney Bayley, Northern-Eastern's Jaycee O'Neill, Anna Grzelak of Marquette, Craven, South Lyon's Kelsie O'Connor, Rochester Adams' Richardson and Milford's Maddie Melody.
In giant slalom, Jenna Grzelak took fourth, Johnson fifth, Craven sixth, Brighton's Maddie Carrico seventh, Traverse City West's Ava Warren eighth, O'Connor ninth and Anna Grzelak 10th.
"I'm just excited that the kids showed some grit today and stuck with it, because it wasn't an easy day," Marquette assistant coach Keenan Cooper said. "Look how long it was. It was hot out for skiing, which can take a lot out of you because that sun's beating down on you."
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PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette’s Jacey Johnson skis to Monday’s slalom title. (Middle) The Redettes celebrate their fifth-straight Finals championship. (Click for more from Sports in Motion.)