A banner year for the CHSL: a dozen teams claim 21 state championships

It was a team effort for Divine Child. The Falcons won one event but placed between second and eighth place in seven other events to win the Division 2 girls track title, their first since 2016. Samantha Black (left). Olivia Velazquez, Kirsten Koss, Meghan Koss, Katie Kurtinaitis, and Aleesia Parker show off the spoils of their triumph. (Photo courtesy of MHSAA)

DETROIT — The 2023-24 academic year was a banner year in athletics for the Catholic High School League: a total of 21 state championships.

Six boys teams won 12 titles in eight sports. Novi Detroit Catholic Central carried the heaviest load of hardware back to campus with Division 1 trophies in golf, hockey, lacrosse and wrestling.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood won D2 hockey, D3 swimming and D3 tennis.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s won state titles in D1 basketball and D2 golf.

Jackson Lumen Christi won in D7 football, Ann Arbor Greenhills in D4 tennis and Clarkston Everest Collegiate repeated in D4 golf.

Six girls teams accounted for nine championships in eight sports.

Farmington Hills Mercy won D2 golf, D2 swimming and D1 volleyball.

Jackson Lumen Christi won D3 cross country and D4 soccer.

Madison Heights Bishop Foley (D3 bowling), Ann Arbor Greenhills (D4 tennis), Dearborn Divine Child (D2 track) and Clarkston Everest Collegiate (D4 volleyball) were winners.

Catholic Central lacrosse players celebrate as coach Dave Wilson hoists the MHSAA Division 1 state championship trophy. The Shamrocks won the state title with a 14-8 come-from-behind victory over Hartland. (Photo by Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)
Catholic Central lacrosse players celebrate as coach Dave Wilson hoists the MHSAA Division 1 state championship trophy. The Shamrocks won the state title with a 14-8 come-from-behind victory over Hartland. (Photo by Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

Here’s a look back at some post-contest reflections:

  • St. Mary’s 20-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter in the state final against North Farmington shrunk to nine points with under two minutes to play. “It was the longest fourth quarter of my life,” coach Todd Covert said. “We weathered the storm. We got it done in the end.”
  • “We battled back every time (Menominee) went ahead,” said Lumen Christi veteran head coach Herb Brogan, who is one of just three football coaches in Michigan to have at least 400 career victories.
  • Tom Brecht has coached St. Mary’s golfers since 1996. “I thought it would come,” Brecht said of winning a state title. “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be coaching. I’m just very thankful and blessed.”
  • Catholic Central lacrosse coach Dave Wilson talked about the Shamrocks trailing 6-3 at the half. “I don’t even know what it was with them in the first half, but at halftime I just told them, ‘You either will, or you won’t, and you’ve got to figure it out.’” They did, storming out on an 11-2 run for a 14-8 victory against Hartland.
  • “I wouldn’t be here today without my motivation from my teammates especially, going to practice every day, cheering me on,” said freshman Aubrey Wilson, who took first place in the 100-meter dash, runner-up in the 200 and ran a leg on two relay teams on Divine Child’s track champion squad.
  • “Our team motto is 'All joy, no fear, can’t lose.' We played great. The magic was in the air, and we grabbed it,” summed up coach Mark Randolph about Ann Arbor Greenhills winning its third straight girls tennis championship.
  • “I didn’t really know what I needed in the 10th, and it was probably a good thing,” Bishop Foley sophomore Jacey Thibodeau said. She threw two strikes and a 9-count. “I want Jacey in that spot. She’s the anchor bowler for a reason,” said coach Bradford Grems. “She’s clutch. That’s what she does. She’s amazing.”
  • “I believe very much in taking a deep breath when I’m serving and zoning everything out,” junior Sarah Bradley said. “In my head, I’m like, ‘All for you, God. All for you.’ Then I take a deep breath and I serve. Every single time. So I was very confident, and I went out there and did it.” Her final ace was the match-winning point for Everest’s come-from-behind volleyball victory.
  • “We played hard teams throughout the season, and it really helped us,” Lumen Christi goaltender Izzy Ermatinger said. “I don’t think we’re an underdog, and those rankings don’t matter all that much.” Ermatinger made the title-clinching save in a double overtime, 2-1 shootout against No. 1-ranked Kalamazoo Christian.
  • Junior goaltender Garrett Dudlar hesitated joining his Cranbrook-Kingswood teammates celebrating a triple overtime, come-from-behind 3-2 victory over East Grand Rapids. “I was praying,” he said. “I was praying in between periods, before the game, after the game, as the game was going on. There’s nothing we could have done without God. The whole team does pray, in between periods, before the game. We all give the Lord thanks; He’s the reason that we’re all out there and we’re all able to play so well in that game.”
  • To that, we say, “Amen!”

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].



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