Notre Dame Prep wins fourth consecutive D3 title (with photos)

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Notre Dame Prep wins fourth consecutive D3 title in emotional night WITH PHOTO GALLERY

By TERRY JACOBY
@MIPrepZone (The Oakland Press)

A state championship is usually the pinnacle in high school sports. But for the Pontiac Notre Dame competitive cheer team winning their fourth straight Division 3 title on Saturday was about something much more important, much more meaningful and much more substantial than a trophy and team photo.

Competitive cheer, especially at this level, is about strong will, dedication and emotion but the Fighting Irish came into this season fighting a different kind of emotion – one that adults, let alone teenagers, struggle dealing with.

“This is the best feeling I’ve ever had as a coach,” explained ND Coach Beth Campbell. “This past summer one of our alumni passed away (due to an illness) so at that moment the girls decided to dedicate this whole season to her. And the girls came here determined to win this for her.”

Just moments after hearing the news, the Fighting Irish made an emotional phone call back home.

“Being able to call her mom and dad and tell them that we won this was the best feeling I could have ever asked for as a coach,” she said.

Kristy Malter, who was a cheerleader for the Irish for four years, passed away this summer at the age of 21.

“She was our angel,” said Campbell, who didn’t like having to go first in the final round ahead by less than two points over the Blue Devils.

“That’s never a good thing,” she said. “The judges could hold on to something unless something better comes along. It’s a tough mental draw. But our kids had that focus. It wasn’t about us. It was about something bigger. It was about Kristy.”

It was certainly an emotional ride for the champions who proudly defended their title, edging Richmond for the top prize.

“I’m overwhelmed,” said senior Sarah Nanteo. “It was honor that we got to do this for Kristy. We felt like she was with us today. It’s such a great feeling.”

Senior Jenny Redoutey said the Fighting Irish came up big when they needed to the most.

“We didn’t really know where we fell going into the final round but we knew we would put our best out there in round three,” she said. “That energy we had really made a difference in the end. And when we hit that Notre Dame at the end and I looked up … that was my moment.”

The Division 3 MHSAA competitive cheer state finals was aptly named for 2017 because there were three teams a flip and a shout ahead of the rest of the eight-team field as they converged on the DeltaPlex Arena & Conference Center in Grand Rapids on Saturday evening.

The three favorites – Notre Dame Prep, Richmond and Comstock – aren’t exactly neighbors but they have gotten to know each other quite well over the years.

Notre Dame Prep came in as the three-time defending champion in D-3 with Richmond finishing second the last two years. Last season, the Irish scored 775.48 points to Richmond’s 765.86.

In 2014, Notre Dame Prep defeated Comstock Park to win the state title. Richmond was state champion in 2012 and 2013 and finished second to Comstock Park in 2011.

So, yeah, there is some familiarity here.

And it came down to the two teams who met in districts and again in regionals, this time however, the final results were flipped as Pontiac Notre Dame Prep led wire to wire and finished off an amazing and emotional day with 781.56 points to win the school’s fourth consecutive Division 3 competitive cheer state championship.

Richmond was right behind the Irish all afternoon but came up just short, scoring 779.12 points. The Blue Devils needed to overcome a less than two point deficit in the final round but scored 314.70 to the Irish’s 315.90.

“It’s not the outcome we wanted,” said Richmond Coach Kelli Matthes. “But when you make a mistake that’s what happens. But it wasn’t just one thing. There were tiny things in each round.”

Down less than two points heading into the final round, Richmond had one last chance to topple the champions and capture the mountain. And it was a position that Matthes and the Blue Devils were quite pleased to be in at that moment.

“Our third round has been our money round,” she said. “When we were going into that final round I really thought we were going to win this thing. This is our round. This is what we do.”

Monroe Jefferson took third with 772.62 and Comstock was fourth with 767.34. Flat Rock was fifth with 761.46 with Lake Odessa Lakewood sixth (756.62), Paw Paw seventh (752.84) and Howard City Tri-County eighth (748.58).

The defending champs headed into the final round with the slimmest of leads. The Irish scored 230.36 in the second round for a two-round total of 465.66. The Blue Devils were right behind their rivals, scoring 230.22 in round two for a total of 464.42.

Comstock Park had moved into third place, scoring 225.64 in round two for a two-round total of 456.84. Monroe Jefferson dropped to fourth with 456.02 and Paw Paw was fifth 453.54. Flat Rock scored 219.76 in the second round and was sixth with 450.26.

Howard City Tri-County was seventh (446.08) and Lake Odessa Lakewood was eighth (445.02). 

After one round, the Irish held a slim 235.30-234.20 lead over the Blue Devils. Monroe Jefferson was in third place with 232.50 with Comstock Park fourth with 231.20. The rest of the field featured Paw Paw fifth (230.90), Lake Odessa Lakewood sixth (230.50), Flat Rock seventh (230.50) and Howard City Tri-County eighth (225.60).

Heading into this year’s state finals, Richmond finished first (775.24) and Notre Dame Prep second (768.82) at last Saturday’s regional at Flint Kearsley. Richmond also hosted and won the district with 783.82 points with Notre Dame Prep in second with 758.18 points. Comstock Park showed up in Grand Rapids after winning a regional championship at Rockford.

Last Updated: 3/4/2017 10:40:59 PM EST

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy

Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." The Marist Fathers and Brothers sponsor NDPMA's Catholic identity and manages its educational program. Notre Dame is accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.

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