Brother Pairs Pace Kalkaska's Boys Cross Country Hopes

By Tom Spencer
Special for

September 10, 2021

Three sets of Kalkaska brothers will be running together again this weekend. And most likely Tyler Guggemos and Hayden Moore, both seniors, will be leading the Blazers.

This time, they’re running in the mud – the Charlevoix Mud Run.

The Mud Run is held every year by the Charlevoix Rayders. It’s a favorite of most teams as they overcome obstacles and challenges while getting a little dirty in the process. With multiple knee-deep mud pits, logs and other obstacles strewn throughout the course, overcoming those are at least as important as racing opponents when it comes to achieving a good finish.

Many of the teams are Kalkaska’s opponents in Lake Michigan Conference races and possible obstacles for MHSAA Finals qualification. And East Jordan, a league opponent, also is hosting the Regional.

The Mud Run will help the Blazers along in meeting the season goals.

Guggemos and Moore hope to qualify for the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. They’ve set their sights on individual qualification but have high hopes the whole team will be there, including their younger brothers Gavin Guggemos and Camden Moore, and senior twins Jake Olds and Dave Olds.

 “We would like to finish in the top half of the teams at the Lake Michigan Conference meet and take a shot at qualifying for the state finals,” said Kalkaska cross country coach Doug Brown, who has coached all the brothers since they started running middle school track. “We'd have to be in the top three finishers at Regionals to do that.

“We'd at least like to get two or more runners to the state finals.”

Kalkaska cross countryHayden Moore would love to reach the Finals with his younger brother coming along.

“I really want to get sub-17 (minutes) for the 5K and get into states,” Hayden said.  “I also really want to get our team to states.”

Tyler Guggemos, who has a shot this fall at breaking Kalkaska’s cross country school record, agreed.

“I would like to make it to the state cross country meet and be in the top five in the state,” he said. “It would be great if the team made it too!”

The Blazers are off to a good start competing in McBain, East Jordan and Benzie Invitational meets with Guggemos finishing first for Kalkaska and Moore second. Their younger brothers as sophomores round out the top four. The twin Olds brothers are also pushing them along.

There’s a little sibling rivalry helping the Blazers, the boys acknowledge, but none noted between the brothers. The six boys have been running for Kalkaska together for six years, starting on the middle school track.

“Dave and I have competed quite a lot over the years, as is natural for twins to do,” said Jake Olds.  “I wouldn’t call it a rivalry because he and I have different interests and have different goals in running.

“Having a brother on the team is a gift and a curse because, well, we are brothers and it’s fun to spend time together, to an extent.”

Gavin Guggemos hopes to match his brother’s success.

“It's nice to have someone to try to chase,” he said. “It's not a rivalry because he makes me want to be better.

“It's fun to train together,” Gavin continued. “My goals this year are to run in the 17s and make it to states.”

The younger Moore views it similarly.

“It’s not really a competition, although it is fun to compare times and say that you’ll catch them,” Camden said.  “When it comes to times it’s fun to try to beat his when he was in my grade.”

Kalkaska cross countryHayden finds motivation in his brother’s running.

“I think that it's a rivalry in that my brother races to beat my PR (personal record) at the same age and I race so that he can't beat my PR when he gets to my age,” he said. “We also have a rivalry over summer miles.”

The Guggemos and Moore brothers teamed up to run the 3,200 relay as sixth and eighth graders and then qualified for the Track & Field Finals in the 3,200 last spring as freshmen and juniors.

Brown is looking for even more success for all three pairs, but he remembers fondly the start in middle school track, especially the 3,200 relay team.

“I was very happy for them, because we thought they were a good team in middle school, and it was great to see them live up to their potential a few years later,” he said. “They were thrilled to be able to make a trip to the state meet together.”

Looking ahead, Kalkaska will host an invitational Sept. 21 after going to Elk Rapids on Sept. 16.

At Elk Rapids, the brother pairs will compete against Coach Brown’s son Seth, a sophomore. The Elks also have a brother duo – junior Caleb Kerfoot and sophomore Christian Kerfoot.

Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) From left: Tyler Guggemos, Hayden Moore, Camden Moore and Gavin Guggemos make up two thirds of a Kalkaska distance running group with Cross Country Finals aspirations this fall. (Middle) Those four also filled relay spots together during middle school track. (Below) Hayden Moore (580) rounds a bend during a race. (Photos courtesy of the Kalkaska athletic department.)

Freeland's Hansen Not Focused on Joining All-Time Greats - But On His Way

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

September 29, 2023

The goal written on Matt Kaczor’s Post-It Note was sub-15 minutes, 15 seconds. That’s what the Freeland cross country coach was hoping for from star runner TJ Hansen during his junior season.

Bay & ThumbKaczor tore it up after seeing Hansen run a single race this fall.

“Knowing what he did over the summer and where he was at, seeing what his 1,600 (meter) and his mile got down to, I had a feeling he could get under 15:30 quickly,” Kaczor said. “After the first race, I looked at my assistant and was like, ‘I’ve gotta rip up that Post-It Note. I don’t think our goal is on the level of where he’s at right now.’ At first, it was break 15:15. Once I saw him race at the Under the Lights (on Aug. 18 at St. Johns), I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s going sub 15.’”

Hansen ran 15:39.6 in that first race, and on Sept. 7, in Shepherd, he ran 15:13.9 to meet the goal written on the now-shredded Post-It Note.

This past Saturday, he ran 15:03.7 at the Cadillac Veterans Serving Veterans Invitational. It’s the fastest time recorded in Michigan this year, and a signal that Kaczor might be filling out a new Post-It Note before the season is out.

“The sub-15 barrier, that’s been something on my mind for a while,” Hansen said. “Now that I’m edging closer and closer to that, it’s been exciting. With how heavy my training has been, I wouldn’t expect (to have run this fast this early). Being able to run the times I am really paints the picture for what’s ahead.”

Hansen came into the season already regarded as one of the elite distance runners in the state. He won the 3,200 meters at the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Track & Field Finals this past spring. He’s also finished all-state (12th and fifth, respectively) the past two seasons at the LPD2 Cross Country Finals. 

His current trajectory, however, would put his name near some of the state’s all-time greats. But that’s not something Hansen is focusing on.

“I really don’t like to compare myself to others,” he said. “I don’t focus on that. I try to be the best TJ Hansen that I can be. The best version of myself.”

Focusing on himself is almost necessary for Hansen, as he’s spending a lot of time during his races running by himself. 

At each of the big events Freeland has run in this season, Hansen has finished at least 20 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. That includes all divisions of the Duane Raffin Festival of Races in Holly.

In Cadillac, where Hansen ran his current best time, he was a full minute ahead of the rest of the field.

Hansen enjoys a moment of exhilaration after winning the 3,200 this spring at the LPD2 Finals at Ada Forest Hills Eastern.“He’s just a special athlete,” Kaczor said. “I can’t see Freeland having someone like this in a while. He’s a generational talent. What’s crazy is, I had the school record when he was a freshman. He and Braden (Honsinger) broke it last year. But TJ has now dropped that school record (set in 1998) by almost a minute.”

Hansen’s achievements have already put him on a path to run at the next level, which is something of a family tradition. 

His older sisters Peyton and Kiera are track & field athletes at Wayne State and Eastern Michigan, respectively. Their parents, Tim and Pam, were track & field stars at Central Michigan.

TJ has drawn the attention of coaches around the country, including from Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Colorado. 

Having family members who know the process is a help for Hansen, and he said they’ve all been good about allowing him to choose his own path, whatever that may be.

“He’s from a good family that knows how to work and knows how to get things done,” Kaczor said. “He knows that if he puts in the work, he’s going to be at a good spot.”

While Hansen admits it can be a bit overwhelming, he’s using it as motivation to run faster and continue to put his name out there.

Also serving as motivation is 2022 Division 2 champion Connell Alford of Chelsea. Alford is among the elite group of runners in Michigan who have broken the 15-minute mark, doing it twice a year ago. 

He currently has the state’s second-best time behind Hansen’s this year, running 15:09.1 at the MSU Invitational on Sept. 15.

“Whenever I see him drop a time, my main goal is to run faster,” Hansen said. “Whenever I see him run a good time, that motivates me to work hard.”

The two won’t see each other until the MHSAA Finals on Nov. 4 at Michigan International Speedway. It’s an opportunity Hansen is excited for, as it’s a chance to race and be pushed toward the lofty goals he’s set for himself. Kaczor is excited about it, too, even if it might mean having to replenish his supply of Post-Its.

“We don’t talk about winning the state title; we talk about making sure that we have great races on those days,” Kaczor said. “We can’t control how somebody else runs. It’s a matter of can we, if the weather is right and the course is in good condition, can we be one of the few guys that has run in the 14s on that course? That’s the goal. Put yourself in some great categories with those upper echelons and the greats of all-time.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Freeland's TJ Hansen leads a pack during last season's LPD2 Final at Michigan International Speedway. (Middle) Hansen enjoys a moment of exhilaration after winning the 3,200 this spring at the LPD2 Finals at Ada Forest Hills Eastern. (Top photo by Carter Sherline/Run Michigan; middle photo by Dave McCauley/Run Michigan.)