‘Tis spring, and CHSL athletes’ thoughts turn to state championships

Shrine won the Division 4 girls soccer state championship 1-0 against Kalamazoo Christian, one of nine state titles claimed by CHSL teams a year ago. The other victories: two in boys baseball, three in boys golf, two in girls tennis and one in boys track. (Photo by Wright Wilson | Special to Detroit Catholic)

ORCHARD LAKE — With all apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson, “in the spring a young athlete’s fancy turns to thoughts of championships.”

At least, in the Catholic High School League.

Of the 16 Michigan High School Athletic Association championships the CHSL won a year ago, nine were claimed in spring sports.

Here’s a peak back and a look ahead:

Baseball champs: St. Mary’s Prep in Division 1 and Riverview Gabriel Richard in Division 4.

This sport gets most of the headlines, and making most of them in the Metro area and throughout the state — and even nationally — in the last couple of years has been Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. Coach Matt Petry’s Eaglets have won three state titles in a row, also winning Division 2 in 2019 and 2021. There was no baseball in 2020 because of COVID-19.

St. Mary’s cumulative record during that time was 121-10-1, including an astounding 43-1 in 2021 and a perfect 44-0 in 2022, the most wins in state history (one more than Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard in 2010 and Harper Woods Bishop Gallagher in 1985).

At this early stage of the 2023 season, the Eaglets are off to a rousing start with a 5-4 win over Howell and a doubleheader shutout of Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 1-0 and 6-0. Going back to their only loss in mid-2021, St. Mary’s is on a 69-game winning streak.

At Gabriel Richard, the 6-4-3 double-play combination of Connor Silka to Tylor Morehouse to Ryan Rainey will long be remembered in the Pioneers’ sports annals.

Their game-ending flawless execution gave Richard a thrilling 4-3 victory over No. 1-ranked Beal City for the state championship to go along with the Division 3 crown in 2018.

Silka was one of four seniors on the squad. Juniors Morehouse and Rainey and sophomore Drew Everingham, who pitched in relief, will pass on their state-final experience to a youthful squad in search for a repeat.

The Pioneers have opened this spring splitting a twinbill with Ann Arbor Richard, losing 4-3 and winning 4-2.

Boys golf champs: Catholic Central in Division 1, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice in Division 2, and Ann Arbor Greenhills in Division 3.

Senior Peter Stassinopoulos fired a birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie on the last four holes to lead Catholic Central to a two-stroke win over defending champ Ann Arbor Skyline for its sixth Division 1 title in school history.

Brother Rice led by only four strokes entering the final round and rallied for a 17-stroke victory over Richland Gull Lake for its second Division 2 title in a row, its 10th in school history. Three of the Warriors’ top five players will return this spring.

Greenhills won by 20 shots ahead of Grand Rapids Catholic Central, their first state championship in boys golf since winning the Class D title in 1994.

All three schools start their spring schedule early this month.

Girls tennis champs: Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood won Division 3 while Greenhills took Division 4.

Cranbrook’s freshman Yenna Park, senior Charlotte Brown, and sophomores Sienna Ilitch and Olivia Zhang won the four singles flights. The teams of freshman Ava Clogg and sophomore Grace Zhang, and sophomores Daryn Krause and Kayli Lala won their doubles matches.

It was Cranbrook’s sixth state title since joining the CHSL in 2010, and 17th overall in its history.

Greenhills freshmen Shangyang Xia and Sophie Chen won the singles, and the teams of seniors Ruhmini Nallamothu and Georgie Branch, and seniors Sabeen Malick and Meera Tewari won the doubles. Greenhills has won three state crowns.

Girls soccer: Royal Oak Shrine won Division 4 girls soccer.

Norah Tisko scored the game’s lone goal 25 seconds into the second half off a beautiful pass from Bridgette Drouillard that allowed the junior forward to volley the ball into the net for a 1-0 win over Kalamazoo Christian. Elena Gallagher made two saves in her 10th shutout of the season. Shrine also beat K-Christian for the 2019 championship.

Shrine has split its first two games this season, losing 2-0 to Detroit Country Day and blanking Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard 2-0.

Boys track champion: University of Detroit Jesuit in Division 1.

The Cubs earned half of their 41 championship points by winning the 4x100- and 4x200-meter relays. Coach Carl Brock employed the same quartet to run the relays: juniors Nick Johnson and Jaidan Reed, senior Devin Grantham and sophomore Cameron Hendrix.

U of D Jesuit won a Class B title in 1993.

Runners-up: Brother Rice in lacrosse, Bloomfield Hills Marian in girls soccer.

Brother Rice has won the Division 1 championship in 15 of the 17 years since lacrosse was sanctioned by the MHSAA. The Warriors lost in overtime, 11-10, to Hartland last spring.

The two teams collide this Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Rice, which has primed itself for this rematch by overwhelming Cleveland St. Ignatius, 16-2, and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep, 25-3, in the last seven days.

When Marian's soccer team fell, 2-1, to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central for the Division 2 championship a year ago, it was a very unfamiliar and unwelcome spot they, and new coach Reid Friedrichs, found themselves in.

The Mustangs were used to having things their way under coach Barry Brodsky: four state titles in a row (2017-18-19-21) to complement championships in 2003-04, 2009-10 and 2012.

Marian is on an early spring mission. They have won their first four games, all by shutout, versus Walled Lake Central 3-0, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 1-0, Macomb Lutheran North 2-0 and Detroit Country Day 3-0.

Again, apology to Tennyson: “Tis better to have played and lost than never to have played at all.”

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].


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