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MISportsNow Year in Review: Winter 2016

MISportsNow is taking a look back at 2016 and the year in northern Michigan high school sports.

Beginning with the 2016 winter season and on the mat at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena, four area wrestling programs captured regional championships and advanced to the MHSAA state quarterfinals in February.

Ranked fourth in Division 3, Chippewa Hills (31-2) concluded its most successful season in program history, reaching its first state finals match before falling to state power Dundee. The Warriors were in the quarterfinals for the ninth time in 11 seasons and appeared in their second straight semifinal with wins over Gladstone and Lake Fenton.

Gaylord also made its second consecutive state semifinal appearance in Division 2. On the heels of their ninth straight Big North Conference championship, the Blue Devils held off Warren Woods Tower in the quarterfinals before falling to St. Johns in the semifinal round. The 42-2 season marked Gaylord’s first 40-win campaign in more than a decade.

Hesperia and Pine River also made splashes in Division 4, with Hesperia making its eighth quarterfinal appearance in the last 10 seasons. Although Hesperia fell to Springport in the quarterfinals, Pine River made history by becoming the first seven seed in Division 4 to knock off a second seed, besting Decatur by a point. The Bucks have now won 16 league and district championships in the last 17 years.

On the slopes at Bellaire’s Schuss Mountain, the Petoskey boys ski program won its sixth straight Division 2 state championship, beating the local co-op program of Elk Rapids, Traverse City St. Francis, Grand Traverse Academy and Central Lake. In Division 1, Traverse City Central wrapped up its third straight runner-up finish to Marquette.

On the girls side, the St. Francis, Elk Rapids, Central Lake and GTA co-op team won the Division 2 state championship.

Heading back indoors to conclude winter, Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart advanced to the Class D state title game for the second time in three years and first since winning the 2014 state championship.

Reaching the quarterfinals for the fourth straight year, the third-ranked Irish (24-2) topped Stephenson 45-38 in the semifinals before falling to Pittsford, 48-30, in the title game.

Senior center Averi Gamble was recognized as the Associated Press Class D Player of the Year.

In Class C, Traverse City St. Francis reached its program’s first state title game.

Lead by seniors Annie Lyman and Lauren McDonnell as well as junior Juliana Phillips, the No. 3 Gladiators (26-2) handed Niles Brandywine a 53-40 loss in the semifinals before falling to Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, 53-37, in the title game.

On the boys side, Big Rapids coach Kent Ingles guided an unranked Cardinal squad to its first Class B state semifinal.

Winners of the Central State Activities Association Gold division, the Cardinals (23-3) rolled past Essexville-Garber, 42-23, in a quarterfinal before falling to Stevensville Lakeshore, 61-60, despite a game-high 22 points from junior Demetri Martin.

McBain reached the Class C state semifinals for the first time since 2011.

Going a perfect 26-0 prior to reaching the Breslin Center, the third-ranked Ramblers and champions of the Highland Conference dropped a 65-42 contest to Grandville Calvin Christian in the semifinals.

Logan Eling tallied a team-high 18 for McBain. 

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