BOYNE FALLS — Regional champ.
What a way to go out for Traverse City West senior Finley Clark.
Clark captured the Division 1 state slalom championship at Boyne Mountain on Monday, beating Walled Lake Northern’s John Merchant, 1:04.29 to 1:04.32.
“I had confidence coming in after winning the regional,” Clark said. “Today was a good day.”
Marquette won the team championship with 57 points. Clarkston, the defending champion, was second with 74. Traverse City Central placed third with 95 and West fourth with 127.
Clark’s win gave the Titans a sweep in the slalom. Monica Hessler won it in the girls race.
Clark led Merchant after the first run, 31.44 to 31.65.
“It’s a tough spot to be in, because you know if you hold back too much you just gave away a championship and if you go too hard you might lose it,” West coach Ed Johnson said. “Finley handled it well.”
Clark didn’t seem too concerned about protecting his lead after the first run.
“It was enough (of a cushion),” he said. “I just go out there and ski, go to work. It didn’t change anything.”
Central was led by Kalvis Hornburg, who finished fourth in slalom. He was pleased with Central’s third-placing showing.
“We finally got 24 solid runs down,” he said. “Everybody finished (every run). That was a big step forward for us. It was a good consistent effort.”
Trojan coach Nick Stanek thought so, too.
“We didn’t make mistakes so there isn’t anything to look back on say, ‘well, if we didn’t do this maybe we could have won,’” he said. “I’m pretty happy with how we skied today.”
Marquette seized control in the morning, opening a 17-point lead on Clarkston in the giant slalom, 23-40. Central was 28 points back, West 42.
“We were in a good position after the GS,” Stanek said. “We were where we wanted to be, but we didn’t quite come on strong enough in slalom. Still, it was a good finish for us.
“Marquette set the pace in the morning and didn’t make any mistakes in the afternoon. It’s hard to catch a team that’s not making mistakes.”
The Redmen, whose strength is in giant slalom, edged Central by just 2.5 points at the regional. West was 11.5 points back.
“We beat Marquette (earlier in the season),” Johnson said. “We were caught on our heels a little after GS.”
For Central, Dirk Phelps finished 11th, John Whiting 14th and Lars Hornburg 15th in the slalom team scoring. Whiting was ninth, Kalvis Hornburg 10th, Kurt Frick 13th and Lars Hornburg 19th in giant slalom.
For West, Clark placed sixth in giant slalom. Matt Lowe took eighth in both disciplines in the team scoring. Ben Friar added an 18th in slalom.
The Titans had two skiers with miscues in slalom.
“We knew we had to come in and go full throttle and just see what happens,” Johnson said. “And that’s what we did.”
Lakeland’s Taylor Janssen won the giant slalom in 1:00.16.
Marquette did it with balance, putting four in the top 11 in the giant slalom and four in the top 12 in slalom.
“I’m really proud of these guys,” Marquette coach Marty Paulsen said. “It’s been a long time coming, watching them grow up. We have a really strong core of juniors. We have four juniors who have been buddies all their lives. It’s nice to see their hard work rewarded.”