July 23, 2021

MLive’s Ultimate Sports Champion crowned: See which Michigan high school athletic programs fared best

The final pitch of the Michigan high school baseball season was thrown during Saturday’s state tournament, and with that pitch, another school sports year came to an end.

That means it’s time for MLive to crown the 2020-21 Ultimate Sports Champion.

MLive has spent the past eight months keeping track of how teams fared in Michigan High School Athletic Association sanctioned tournaments. A running total was kept through the three seasons to determine which Michigan high school athletic program fared the best.

Here’s a reminder on how points are earned:

For elimination tournaments like softball, state champions receive 20 points, while the runner-up earns 15. Semifinalists collect 14 points, while quarterfinalists earn 12 and regional runners-up 8. Sports like track and golf break down like this: Each winner receives 20, second place 15, then deduct one point for each position. The third-place team scores 14 points, fourth 13 and fifth 12, and it continues all the way down to 16th place, which is worth one point.

Let’s count them down:

20. Novi: 102
Novi received points from its girls lacrosse, soccer and tennis teams and its boys track team to break into the top 20.

Ann Arbor Skyline’s boys golf team
Ann Arbor Skyline High School’s boys golf team. (Photo provided by Lon Horwedel)LON HORWEDEL

20. Ann Arbor Skyline: 102
Skyline enjoyed a big spring season that saw five teams score, including its boys golf team that won a state crown.

19. Rochester Adams: 104
Adams’ scored points from its boys golf and boys lacrosse teams, helping keep the Highlanders in the top 20.

MHSAA Division 1 track and field finals – June 5, 2021
Audrey DaDamio of Birmingham Seaholm holds up three fingers as she crosses the finish line to win the 3200-meter run – her third title of the day – during the 2021 MHSAA Division track and field state finals at East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com) Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

18. Birmingham Seaholm: 106
Seaholm’s girls track and tennis teams were among the highlights this spring as both squads cracked the top-five at state.

16. Northville: 107
Northville remained 16th through the winter and spring seasons. Its boys and girls lacrosse teams and girls tennis teams scored this spring.

MHSAA 2021 baseball state finals – June 19, 2021
Grand Blanc celebrates after defeating Portage Central, 8-3, in the 2021 MHSAA Division 1 baseball state championship game at McLane Baseball Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, on Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com)Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

16. Grand Blanc: 107
The Bobcats won a state baseball championship, giving them two titles this year. Grand Blanc’s boys basketball team also won the title.

MHSAA D2 State Track Finals 2021
Petoskey finished in first place with a total of 48 team points in the MHSAA Division 2 State Track and Field finals in Zeeland, Michigan on Saturday, June 5, 2021. (Joel Bissell | MLive.com)Joel Bissell | MLive.com

15. Petoskey: 109
Petoskey’s boys ski team won a state championship in the winter, and in the spring, Northmen added a second title in girls track.

MHSAA 2021 baseball state finals – June 19, 2021
Traverse City St. Francis’s Jack Prichard (5) grounds out during their 2021 MHSAA Division 3 baseball state championship game against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett at McLane Baseball Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Liggett won the game, 12-0. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com)Mike Mulholland | MLive.com

13. Traverse City St. Francis: 116
St. Francis broke into the top 20 this spring, earning runner-up finishes from its baseball and girls tennis teams.

13. Traverse City Central: 116
TCC’s girls track and boys golf and girls tennis teams all scored this spring, with the track squad finished fourth.

12. Detroit Catholic Central: 117
The Shamrocks moved up one spot from the winter after receiving points from their boys golf, boys lacrosse and baseball teams. DCC’s golfers were second at state.

11. Notre Dame Prep: 125
Notre Dame slipped out of the top 10 in the spring, but it received strong showings from its girls tennis and girls lacrosse teams this spring to keep them in the hunt.

10. Forest Hills Northern: 128
The Huskies jumped from 15th to 10th this spring after their girls tennis team won a state title. FHN had four spring sports teams score.

Tennis Tournament at AA Pioneer
Skyline’s Maddie Slade rallies the ball in the third singles match of a tennis tournament at Pioneer High School on Thursday, May 20, 2021. (Alie Skowronski/mlive.com) Alie Skowronski | The Ann Arbor News

9. Ann Arbor Pioneer: 133
Pioneer received a state championship this spring from its girls tennis team, making it three titles on the year for the school. Pioneer’s girls and boys swim teams also won state championships.

7. Chelsea: 134
The Bulldogs slipped from seventh to 10th in the winter, but they climbed back up to tie for seventh. Chelsea’s softball team was a state semifinalist and its girls tennis team was third.

7. Brighton: 134
Brighton was fourth through the winter and continued to be a top-10 program through spring. Highlights include a runner-up finish from Brighton’s girls lacrosse team.

Grand Rapids Christian/Hamilton baseball
Cornerstone University hosted a Division 2 baseball regional between Grand Rapids Christian and Hamilton on June 10, 2021, in Grand Rapids, Mi. Christian won, 10-6. (Photo courtesy of Eli Kaminski)

6. Grand Rapids Christian: 139
The Eagles had four spring sports teams score, including their girls tennis team, which finished fourth.

5. Grand Rapids Catholic Central: 141
The Cougars’ boys golf team won Catholic Central’s third state championship of the school year, joining the football and boys basketball teams.

Our favorite 25 moments from the 2021 MHSAA girls soccer championships
Detroit Country Day celebrates the win during the MHSAA Division 3 girls soccer championship at the DeMartin Soccer Stadium at Michigan State University on Friday, June 18, 2021. Detroit Country Day won the game over Boyne City, 3-0.J. Scott Park | MLive.com

4. Detroit Country Day: 144
The Yellowjackets won state championships in girls soccer and girls tennis. Country Day wasn’t in the top 20 after the winter season, but the Yellowjackets scored 83 points in the spring to climb into the top-five.

3. Cranbrook-Kingswood: 162
The Cranes were third after the fall and first through winter. Cranbrook excelled in four spring sports, including girls tennis and girls lacrosse, which were both second at state.


Division 2 Boys Lacrosse MHSAA State Finals between East Grand Rapids and Forest Hills Eastern
East Grand Rapids celebrates as the clock runs out making them the winners of the division 2 boys lacrosse MHSAA state finals between Forest Hills Eastern and East Grand Rapids on Saturday June 12, 2021 in Howell. Nicole Hester/ MLIVE.com

2. East Grand Rapids: 180
The Pioneers came up just short of defending its Ultimate Sports Championship. The Pioneers were tied for second through the winter sports season, and they received a state title from their girls and boys lacrosse teams this spring. EGR’s boys golf team also cracked the top-five, finishing fourth.

Rockford lacrosse player Katie Rodriguez
Rockford midfielder Katie Rodriguez races toward the goal following a draw control en route to a 12-10 win over Forest Hills Northern Eastern. Rodriguez has committed to Liberty University. (Photo by Eldon Palmer/EldonPalmerPhoto)

1. Rockford: 189
The Rams won their fifth Ultimate State Championship in the seven years that MLive has been offering the competition. Rockford, which was tied for second with East Grand Rapids after the winter season, enjoyed a big spring, receiving points from six spring teams. That included the Rams’ girls lacrosse and boys track teams, which won state titles.

All-time Ultimate State Champions

2015: Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood

2016: Rockford

2017: Rockford

2018: Rockford

2019: Rockford

2020: East Grand Rapids

2021: Rockford