Alwine's Risk Rewarded with Top Vault

By Wes Morgan
Special for

June 5, 2019

Wyatt Alwine was one more failed attempt away from having a very bad day at last Saturday’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Track & Field Finals.

With some of his adrenaline reserve drained from a long rain delay, the Constantine junior — seeded No. 1 entering the meet — described himself as a “mental case” after having missed his first two tries at an opening height of 12 feet, 3 inches, one of which ended in the grass.

After finishing third overall for all-state status a year earlier, Alwine was in danger of not posting a height at all.  

“My head just wasn’t there,” he said. “The rain delays didn’t help. I think that was one of the main reasons for a lack of focus.”

A calming influence for Alwine throughout the storms was first-year Constantine pole vault coach Stephanie Teeple — a past three-time Finals champion at Sturgis (1998, 2000, 2001) who went on to do big things at the University of Nebraska and Western Michigan University, including breaking the WMU outdoor record. She always could count on her coach and father, Wes Teeple, who set a school record at Eastern Michigan University and won two league titles, and her mother, Cheryl, who also coached at Sturgis. Oh, and there was older brother Brad to lean on as well. Brad Teeple won a Class B crown in 1999 and went on to compete for Alabama and Nebraska.

Wes and Cheryl Teeple have made it to most Constantine meets this season after Stephanie joined the staff.

“It’s good to have their whole family,” Alwine said. They all come out and support us. It’s a family thing. They definitely know what they’re talking about.”

And when Alwine found himself on the brink of elimination Saturday, he was ready for some encouragement.

“He struggled a little bit on the first two and put it together on the third one,” Stephanie Teeple said of Alwine’s start to the day. “You can either give up or want it, pull through and clear it. Once he got those jitters out, he just improved from there.”

Alwine ended up with a personal-record of 14-3 to win the LPD3 championship, edging Beaverton junior Will Aldrich, who topped out at 14-0 in what ended up being a much more high-flying finals than in 2018. Alwine jumped 13-3 last year for his third-place finish — a height that was not even good enough for a top-eight spot this year.

But even after regaining confidence, Alwine had to trust his coach in crunch time. After clearing 13-9, it was time to take a chance.

Teeple told Alwine to move up to a 15-foot pole that he had never tried. This might not sound difficult to the uninitiated. But for anyone who has had the guts to vault, it’s a rocket ride into the unknown. Added length requires more speed, more strength, a rock-solid plant and nerves of steel. Breaking one out on the biggest stage amplifies the importance of all the above.

“I said, ‘I don’t know about this,’” Alwine recalled. “It’s a big pole. I just listened to her, and it ended up working out.”

“If he wouldn’t have gotten on that bigger pole, I’m not sure he would have gotten over 14-3 to win the meet,” Teeple said. “That’s all it takes, is one kid to get on a bigger pole and it makes all the difference. But that’s what’s good about Wyatt; he is pretty fearless. He has the tools to be a good vaulter, so I’m just glad I get to coach him and do what I know how to do best. I’m really excited for the future to see what he can do.”

Alwine wasn’t able to get over 14-6 cleanly as his leg caught the bar on his descent. After reviewing film of the attempt, Alwine said his body was nearly a foot over the bar.

“I knew I had something special when I got third at state,” Alwine said. “This year, with Miss Teeple coming in, she gave me pointers that really helped me more. It was a lot different. But it kind of clicked a lot better with me. Miss Teeple brought up how the bottom arm is your power. The plant is most important. That and moving up poles got me up to higher heights. 

“It kind of got me stoked to do some summer vaulting with her because I know the height is there. It’s exciting (that I won), but I’m already excited to get back to it.”

Wes Morgan has reported for the Kalamazoo Gazette, ESPN and, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Constantine’s Wyatt Alwine clears the pole vault bar during the 2018 season. (Middle) Alwine, this spring. (Top photo courtesy of; middle courtesy of Wyatt Alwine.)

With 2nd Place in Final Race, Newberry Clinches 1st in Final Team Standings

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 2, 2024

KINGSFORD — The race for the Upper Peninsula Division 3 boys track & field championship came right down to the wire Saturday as Newberry edged St. Ignace 96-92 for top honors.

Third-place team finisher Lake Linden-Hubbell won the day’s final race, the 1,600-meter relay, in 3 minutes, 41.94 seconds, and Newberry hung on to edge St. Ignace by two steps for second place and its first title in eight years.

Newberry, which was runner-up to Munising last year, was clocked at 3:43.07 in the 1,600 relay on this sunny and mild late afternoon. The Saints finished nine hundredths of a second later.

“We knew we had to beat St. Ignace to win,” Newberry senior Kennedy Depew said after finishing the anchor leg. “This was my last race ever. I knew I had to give it my all. That’s also why I knew I had to scratch from the open 400. I would have been in four events. I think scratching from the 400 helped me save some energy. We weren’t satisfied with runner-up last year, which makes this year’s championship all the more satisfying.”

Classmate Gabe Luck provided Newberry with its lone individual first with a heave of 44 feet, 1¾ inches in shot put.

“We had a lot of injuries this year,” Newberry coach Drew Schultz said. “For all the obstacles we had, we wouldn’t have it any other way, having two of the best athletes decide it in the last race. I’m extremely proud of our guys. To win it that way is just insane. I’m proud of all our eastern-end kids.”

Chassell's Kalvin Kytta and Cedarville/DeTour's Ethan Snyder lead the pack of 1,600 runners. Depew also was runner-up in the 100-meter dash in 11.63 seconds.

Senior Jon Ingalls, who ran the last leg for the Saints, won the 110 hurdles (16.39) and 300s (42.89) and helped them place second in the 400 relay (45.94).

“Both hurdles were decent,” Ingalls said. “Those weren’t my best times, but it feels good to grind out a few more wins.”

Senior Owen Lester also provided the Saints with a victory in pole vault (12-6).

LL-H got firsts from senior Gabe Popko in discus at 153 feet, 4¼ inches, and classmate Matt Jokela in the 400 (51.09). Jokela also took third in the 100 (11.65).

“Real good hydration and confidence are keys,” Jokela said. “I think having confidence helps a little. I usually don’t go too hard out of the blocks. Then, I usually try to go as hard as I can in the last 200.”

Chassell junior Kalvin Kytta claimed three firsts, taking the 800 in a personal-best 2:03.62, 1,600 (4:39.58) and 3,200 (10:27.32).

“Three wins, I’m pretty happy with that,” he said. “The 800 went real well. Overall, I’m very happy with my performance today.”

Fourth-place Bessemer set UPD3 Finals records in the 400 relay (45.3) and 800 (1:34.64). Powers North Central previously set the record in the 400 (45.34) two years ago and Rock Mid Peninsula had held the 800 record since 2001 when it ran a 1:35.1.

“We shaved two seconds off in the 800 relay which feels good, and our handoffs in the 400 were good all year,” Bessemer senior Landon Peterson said. “Our school record in the 400 is 44.98, which is something we’ve done three times this year. Running on a rubber track gives you a much better grip, which helped us a lot today.”

Bessemer senior Tom Trudgeon became a four-event winner, also taking the 100 (11.46) and 200 (23.85).

Crystal Falls Forest Park freshman Vic Guiliani won high jump (6-0), and sophomore Michael Rexford went 19-9 in long jump, providing Escanaba Holy Name with its first U.P. Finals title since the school reopened in 2021.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Newberry runners celebrate taking second place in the 1,600 relay, allowing them to finish ahead of St. Ignace for the team title in Upper Peninsula Division 3. (Middle) Chassell's Kalvin Kytta and Cedarville/DeTour's Ethan Snyder lead the pack of 1,600 runners. (Click for more from Cara Kamps/