Corunna Star Recovers to Shine Again

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

June 3, 2017

ZEELAND – Noah Jacobs of Corunna is another in a long line of tremendous distance runners to come out of this state.

Among the names he’s chased include Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein of Rockford and Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc.

Jacobs, a senior headed for University of Wisconsin, was the two-time defending Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals champion in the 3,200-meter run and last year he added the New Balance two-mile national championship.

This past fall Jacobs won the Division 2 cross country championship with a time of 15:28.00.

Unbeknownst to him, this year would be different. Challenges always present themselves, but Jacobs was shaken by what he had to face as he began to prepare for the 2017 track & field season.

In February, Jacobs was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left tibia. A stress fracture is more severe. Fortunately for Jacobs, the injury stopped just short of a fracture.

Still, for five weeks he had to shelve his training and deal with the mental anguish of knowing it would be a long, painstaking road back to the MHSAA Finals, if indeed he could return.

A few weeks ago, Jacobs noticed his times were getting back to where they were a year ago. On Saturday, he fought off fierce competition and defended his LP Division 2 Finals titles in the 3,200 (9:11.63) and added a first-place finish in the 1,600 run with a time of 4:14.03 at Zeeland East to complete was has been a courageous comeback.

“Last season I was blessed with great health,” Jacobs said. “This year I was battling. I was losing races, to some good runners. I didn’t have that same kick. I had to break that mental barrier.

“(In February) I was a mental wreck. My teammates and my family kept me going.

“It was around Regional time, in early May, I was running in two or three quality meets. I kind of got my routine back. I got to use the race situations I used to use. The last two weeks have really been good. (My leg) is not perfect. People asked me how it is, and I have one word for them – ready. I’m ready.”

Jacobs had to fend off a couple runners coming into the second-to-last turn to win the 1,600.

“I took the lead with about 250 meters left,” he said. “I knew they wanted it. It could have been a tenth of a second, it could have been five seconds. I don’t know.”

His win in the 3,200 held more drama. He led with 600 meters to go before Shuaib Aljabaly of Coldwater put forth a burst of speed to pass Jacobs by two meters.

“I knew that I had to draft (early in the race),” Jacobs said. “I’ve raced (Aljabaly) before. I didn’t worry about him running. I just had to attack the last half. I had to push and push and push.

“I had a couple of coaches with 100 meters to go screaming at me. When he took the lead, I had to fight, fight. It’s happened before.”

Jacobs overtook Aljabaly with 50 meters left and won by 21 hundredths of a second.

Home cooking

One thing that can top winning an MHSAA Finals title is winning one at home.

Zeeland East won its first boys track & field team title with a score of 71 points. Coldwater placed second with 42.

East had clinched its 1,600 relay team took first as well.

Coach Ralph Neal, in his seventh season, said everything went right for his team.

“It was an amazing day,” he said. “I can look back at two years ago and what we were trying to build. I saw enough talent. I saw the field events. I saw the relays. We had all these pieces that came together. Nothing went wrong today. It’s what a coach dreams about.

“It is special winning it at home. (Athletic director) Tim Ritsema pulls his hair out to get this (event) going.”

Junior Brenden Knoll placed second in both the discus (176 feet, 7 inches) and shot put (55 feet) to earn his team 16 points. He said the formula to winning was basic.

“We put in the work, every day,” he said. “I just had my mind right. I put everything else aside. It feels real good. These are the reasons you work so hard.”

Getting serious pays off

John Adams III of Ferndale never qualified for the MHSAA Finals until this year. Last year he started running track for the first time, to stay in shape for football. That reasoning paid off as Adams, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound slot back and defensive back, will attend Olivet College in the fall with every intention of competing for a starting spot on the football team.

Fearless, Adams competed in the 100 dash, and he certainly wasn’t one of the favorites. That didn’t bother him. With a time of 10.94, Adams placed first in the 100.

“I won because I worked the hardest,” he said. “I didn’t take track seriously until this year. When I got beat in the (Oakland Activities Association) meet (May 11), that’s when it hit me. I finished third. It was hand-held time, and it was really close. I’m not sure anyone knew who won. I didn’t want that to happen again.”

Special days

Sunday is Noah Caudry’s 18th birthday. It’s likely he’ll remember the day before his 18th birthday better in the years to come.

Caudry of Lake Odessa Lakewood won the 110 and 300 hurdles, and helped his team place fifth in the 400 relay even though it didn’t compete in the fast heat.

His time in the 110 (14.05) was a personal best. He’s a three-time champion in that event.

“This is my specialty,” he said of the 110. “I was hoping for (the three consecutive titles). I was hoping to get in the 13s, but I’ll take a PR.”

Caudry is a remarkable person. He graduated with a 3.94 grade-point average and plans on entering optometry school after earning a degree in biology.

New event, new success

Junior Cameron Oleen was a half-miler since he began running track at Fruitport two years ago.

This season, it was suggested Oleen run the 400 dash. He’d never run it before but thought he’d give it a shot.

“I really like it,” he said. “It’s the most difficult race. I can pace myself in the 800. In the 400 you have to run as fast as you can all the way through it. You could pace yourself in the first 300 meters and then die in the last 100. You might as well run as fast as you can the first 300.”

It would be difficult to argue that point with Oleen. He won the 400 with a time of 49.21 seconds.

“It’s conditioning,” he said. “The 800 helps me train for the 400.”

Oleen also competes in cross country and basketball. He added that running cross country helps him maintain the proper conditioning for the other two sports.

Click for full results.

PHOTO: Corunna's Noah Jacobs, far right, stays a step ahead of Coldwater's Shuaib Aljabaly during Saturday's 3,200 at Zeeland. (Photo by Janina Pollatz/

Preview: UP Boys Finals Loaded with Intriguing Opportunities

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

June 2, 2023

Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Boys Track & Field Finals can match storylines with any of the other events happening statewide on the busiest day of the school sports season.

The Division 1 meet will pit rivals returning after one point separated them a year ago, while Division 2 will see a pair of 2022 champions looking to win again.

Munising’s Micaiah Peramaki will compete in his last Finals after becoming the latest to win four individual events last spring, and Pickford’s David Kozisek will compete in his first and only Finals with a great possibility of becoming the next four-event champ.

All three divisions will again be contested at Kingsford High School, with preliminaries leading off the day at 9 a.m. local (Central) time. Tickets cost $11 and are available digitally only via GoFan. will live-stream the meets beginning at 9 a.m. (CDT)/10 a.m. (EDT), viewable with subscription.

Following is a glance at team contenders and individuals to watch in all three divisions:

Division 1

Team forecast: Marquette owns a two-year championship streak, but claimed last season’s title by a mere point ahead of Kingsford. The Flivvers will pose another challenge Saturday with a pair of relay favorites and strong field events hoping to counter Marquette’s distance stars and overall depth. Sault Ste. Marie, boasting excellence in the distance events as well, could factor significantly.

Matthew Colavecchi, Iron Mountain junior: Last season’s 100 and 200 champion in UPD2 will run on a contending 400 relay and had the sixth-fastest UPD1 Regional time in the 100 (11.85).

Will Fairchild, Iron Mountain senior: He finished fifth both in the 110 and 300 hurdles and eighth in long jump in UPD2 last season, but heads into these UPD1 Finals with the top Regional times for his division in both races – 16.05 and 42.48, respectively.

Michael Floriano, Kingsford junior: Last season’s 200 and 400 relay champion and 100 dash runner-up will run on two favored relays this time and also enters with the third-fastest UPD1 Regional times in the 100 (11.56) and 200 (23.94).

Drew Hughes, Gladstone senior: After running a relay at last year’s Finals, he’s set to run two plus enters with the top UPD1 Regional time in the 800 (2:05.23) and fourth-fastest in the 1,600 (4:38.46).

Gabe Litzner, Sault Ste. Marie freshman: The UPD1 cross country champion in the fall enters his first Track Finals with the top UPD1 Regional times in the 1,600 (4:35.42) and 3,200 (9:58.36).

Cole Myllyla, Kingsford senior: He’s another returning relay champ and also won the long jump and was sixth in the high jump last season. He’ll run on two favored relays and had the third-best UPD1 Regional long jump (20-¼).  

Carson VanderSchaaf, Marquette senior: He’s a two-time 3,200 champion and also won the 1,600 and as part of the 3,200 relay last spring, and he’ll enter Saturday with the second-fastest UPD1 Regional time in the 1,600 (4:37.21) and third-fastest in the 3,200 (10:02.40).

Colin VanderSchaaf, Marquette senior: He’s also won races the last two Finals, the 800 last year and 1,600 as a sophomore (finishing second to his brother last year), and enters this meet with the second-fastest UPD1 Regional times in the 400 (54.11) and 800 (2:06.68) and third-fastest in the 1,600 (4:37.28).

Division 2

Team forecast: Ishpeming has four won straight Division 2 titles (not counting canceled 2020), but Pickford – last season’s UPD3 champion – might be the favorite to continue its streak instead. The Panthers have contenders in several events and also will get help with a number of Bark River-Harris hopefuls slotting into possible high places as well. That said, the Hematites do have qualifiers in 16 events and depth to match anyone in the field.

Caden Awbrey, Pickford senior: He won the 300 hurdles in UPD3 and was second in the 110 last season, also running on championship and runner-up relays. He’ll run on two contending relays this weekend and enters with the UPD2 Regionals third-fastest 300 time (43.97) and fourth-fastest in the 110 (17.63).

Wyatt Demers, Manistique junior: He had a busy 2022 Finals with a relay championship, fifth places in the 100 and 400 and a third in the 200. He could top that as part of two contending relays and entering with the fastest UPD2 Regional times in the 100 (11.5) and 200 (23.24).  

Tramon Gauthier, Ishpeming junior: He played a major role in last year’s team title with a win in the 110 hurdles, second in the 300 and fourth-place long jump, and this weekend he enters with the second-best UPD2 Regional long jump (19-3), second-fastest 110 (16.41) and 300 hurdles (43.34) times and fourth-fastest in the 100 (11.99).

Hayden Hagen, Pickford junior: After also running on a relay champ last year in UPD3 and finishing fourth in the 3,200 and ninth in the 1,600, he’s lined up for a huge meet entering with the top UPD2 Regional times in the 800 (2:14.15), 1,600 (5:03.16) and 3,200 (11:08.89).

David Kozisek, Pickford senior: He could cap his lone season of high school track with one of the most memorable as he enters with the top UPD2 Regional times in the 110 (15.39) and 300 hurdles (42.37) and top high jump (5-10) and long jump (20-7½) as well.  

Owen Lester, St. Ignace junior: The reigning pole vault champion (and seventh-place finisher in the 300 hurdles) posted the top UPD2 Regional pole vault (11-6) by six inches.

Brayden Martin, Ishpeming junior: He had the farthest UPD2 shot put (43-8½) and second-longest discus toss (119-2) at Regionals, after finishing fourth in the shot put at last year’s Finals.

Division 3

Team forecast: There will be a new champion with Pickford in UPD2, with 2022 runner-up Munising coming off a Regional title after falling just nine points shy of catching the Panthers a year ago. The Mustangs have favorites in several events and contenders in most others. Newberry, fifth in UPD2 last season, also looks capable of making serious noise.

Joe Kelley, Munising junior: He finished fifth in the 300 and sixth in the 110 hurdles last season, but could play a massive part Saturday entering with the fastest UPD3 Regional 300 (44.81) and second-fastest time in the 110 (17.06).

Kalvin Kytta, Chassell sophomore: He finished seventh in both the 1,600 and 3,200 and 10th in the 800 as a freshman and also will be expected to score entering with the fastest UPD3 Regional times in the 1,600 (4:48.91) and 3,200 (10:56.07).

Seth Mills, Paradise Whitefish senior: He could become his school’s first Finals champion in this sport as he enters with the top UPD3 Regional discus throw (149-4) by more than 21 feet – and with that toss nearly 40 better than his fifth-place finish in the event a year ago. He also enters with the sixth-best UPD3 Regional shot put (38-5).  

Josiah Peramaki, Munising senior: The reigning pole vault champion also was third in the long jump and fifth in the 200 last season, and he’ll enter this weekend tied with the top UPD3 Regional pole vault (12-0) and also competing on a relay and in the long jump and 100, having posted the third-fastest time (11.73) in the sprint.

Micaiah Peramaki, Munising senior: He became the eighth boys four-time Finals individual champion last year winning the 100, 200, 400 and discus. He could add three more individual titles entering Saturday with UPD3 Regional bests in the 100 (11.24), 200 (23.47) and 400 (53.05) while also running on a contending relay.

Matthew Rahilly, Newberry sophomore: He was fifth in the long jump and ran on two scoring relays in UPD2 as a freshman, and enters this Finals with the best UPD3 Regional long jump (19-9) and tied for the second-best high jump (5-8).

Ian Sundling, Rapid River senior: The reigning long jump champ also finished seventh in high jump last season and will compete in both plus two relays, entering with the third-best UPD3 Regional long jump (19-1).

PHOTO Iron Mountain's Matthew Colavecchi (3) edges Pickford's David Kozisek (2) and Powers North Central's Luke Gorzinski (4) in a 200 heat at the April 17 Superior Dome Invitational. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)