Fantastic 4 Lead Lumen Christi to No. 1

May 30, 2015

By Chip Mundy
Special for Second Half

COMSTOCK PARK – Jackson Lumen Christi came to the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Boys Track and Field Final with just four qualifiers.

The Titans left with a surprising MHSAA championship – the first in school history in track and field.

Lumen Christi’s quartet of athletes totaled 44 points to outdistance runner-up Hillsdale’s 37. Clinton was third with 30 points.

“We weren’t a good dual-meet team, and we didn’t have a lot of depth, but we had some really good individuals,” Lumen Christi coach Mike Woolsey said. “I kind of thought if we put the time in, this sort of thing could happen.

“I’ve seen it with other teams, but never with us. This is great.”

The Titans won only one event. Senior Patrick Ludlow won the 800 in thrilling fashion as he came from behind to nip Ryan Silvestri of Napoleon by less than one second.

“On the first lap, I wanted to be in a good spot in the top two or three,” Ludlow said. “I came around right where I wanted to be. With about 300 to go, I kind of came out first, and then some guys were right with me. Around the 200, I just gutted it out and got the win.”

Ludlow conceded that he did not come to Comstock Park expecting to leave with a team championship.

“Honestly, no. This is so much more than I could have expected,” he said. “It definitely feels better with the team, and it feels good to do both; but to be able to share it with the team is awesome.”

Woolsey said Ludlow followed the script in winning the race.

“He ran the type of race we’ve been practicing all year,” he said. “Watching that race was kind of how I pictured it in my mind.”

Jonathan Scouten, another Lumen Christi senior, had a roller-coaster ride all day. Seeded in the top two in both the shot put and discus, Scouten failed to pick up an individual championship and lost the shot put by a half-inch.

“My day was pretty eventful,” he said. “I was hoping to win both the discus and the shot put, and in the discus I was first going into the finals but ended up getting second. So I was a little disappointed there,” he said. “In the shot put, it was the same thing, except in the finals I ended up losing by a half-inch.

“The whole season has been like this. We’ve been real mellow as a team, and then, what is this? State champions? It’s a blessing. I was about to go home real disappointed, but having this made my day.”

Woolsey said Scouten has gotten to where he is because of hard work and technique and not simply brute strength.

“Over the four years he has improved so much,” Woolsey said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s not the biggest thrower out there, but as far as technique, he’s great. He’s mastered that.”

Lumen Christi junior Wyatt Plate was second in the 200 and third in the 100.

“Plate is just naturally fast, and he has the potential to get even faster,” Woolsey said.

The fourth Lumen Christi athlete to qualify for the meet was junior Jacob Wildenhaus, who took fifth in the 300 hurdles.

Amazingly, there were no multiple individual champions in the meet, and only third-place Clinton managed to bag two titles – one individual and one on a relay.

It was that sort of meet that helped Lumen Christi win a team championship with 44 points.

“You need to have good individuals and have them be on, and it happened,” Woolsey said. “I kind of did the math before and thought we could score a lot of points, but I didn’t know if they would be enough.”

Woolsey has been coaching for 36 years, and he has been involved with winning MHSAA titles for Lumen Christi with boys and girls cross country. But he said winning one in track and field had its own nice touch.

“It’s different,” he said. “Usually with cross country I’m the only coach, so I’m happy for all the other coaches. I’m happy for these kids. It’s fun to be able to take this back to school.”

The other individual champions in the running events were Macomb Lutheran North junior Zach Stadnika in the 110 hurdles, Niles Brandywine senior Andrew Duckett in the 300 hurdles, Sanford-Meridian junior Christian Petre in the 100, Clinton senior Tyler Underwood in the 200, Madison Heights Madison senior Jaylin Golson in the 400, Lansing Catholic senior Keenan Rebera in the 1,600 and Calvin Christian junior Abe Visser in the 3,200.

In the field events, champs were Hesperia junior Nate McKeown (high jump), Reed City junior Nate Fasbender (pole vault), Hillsdale senior Austin Hawkins (long jump), Carson City-Crystal senior Joshua Coston (discus) and Grand Rapids West Catholic junior Carl Myers (shot put).

Hawkins was the defending champion in the long jump.

In the relay events, Clinton won the 40, Marlette the 800, Adrian Madison the 1,600 and Hanover-Horton the 3,200.

Click for full results.

PHOTO: Jackson Lumen Christi's Patrick Ludlow finishes his winning 800 run Saturday in helping the Titans to the LP Division 3 team championship. (Click to see more from Photo by Jamie Geysbeek.)

Red Devils Impress as Ironwood Honors Record-Setter with Jim LaBlonde Invitational

By John Vrancic
Special for

May 20, 2024

IRONWOOD — The Ironwood track & field teams provided themselves with an opportunity to do a victory lap on a very special Saturday earlier this month.

Upper PeninsulaBoth teams were crowned champions at the first Jim LaBlonde Invitational on May 11 on their 350-meter track during a sunny and mild afternoon.

The Ironwood girls scored 126 points, followed by Hurley, Wis., with 43, Ontonagon 37 and Watersmeet with 13. Ironwood’s boys collected 100 points, followed by Hurley at 84, Ontonagon 32 and Watersmeet with seven in a meet held in honor of the former Luther L. Wright High School star athlete who passed away due to an aneurysm on March 31, 2019.

LaBlonde, who was recently inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, was an all-Upper Peninsula football player and still holds school records in the 100 and 200-meter dashes from his senior year in 1997.

“This is very special to me personally,” Ironwood coach Cecilia Aho said. “Jim was a great person and athlete. I came to Ironwood from Argentina in December 2003 and know the family very well. I had some good conversations with Jim before he passed. This is a great tribute to him. It turned out to be a beautiful day. We had perfect weather and the kids from all four schools were smiling and having fun.

“Jim was well known in the community, not only as a coach, but as a parent. He was a phenomenal runner and football player.”

LaBlonde played football for three years at Wisconsin-LaCrosse and was on the school’s track team for a year while earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 2003.

He was a middle school teacher and coach in the Howard-Suamico District near Green Bay, Wis., at the time of his passing.

“He always asked about what was going on in Ironwood and was a good leader,” Aho said. “He would never turn his back on you when you asked him a question. The kids loved him. I wish I would have had a chance to work with him.”

The Ironwood teams take a photo together, at top, after sweeping the meets. Below, from left, LaBlonde’s brother-in-law Dave Lundin, sister Dena Lundin and parents Marlene and Jim LaBlonde attend the meet. Senior Aubrey Smith topped a field of four Ironwood runners in the 1600-meter run in 5 minutes, 55.69 seconds, followed by freshman Iyla Lagalo (6:54.08) and sophomore Aubrey Balduc (7:21.16).

Smith also won the 300 hurdles at 52.43, more than six seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

“It was nice to have everyone here,” Smith said. “It’s nice to have a home meet, especially on a Saturday. I think it’s a fun meet. It’s nice to know everyone here. I think this gives me a little momentum going into our remaining meets.”

Sophomore Emma Wardon was also a double winner for the Red Devils, taking shot put (32-11) and discus (87-0).

Ironwood sophomore Logan Holm took the 110 hurdles (20.17) and 300s (48.05), and Hurley had a triple-winner in junior Jeremiah Wallis, who captured the 100 (12.0), 200 (24.52) and long jump (17-3).

Watersmeet junior Thomas Carson won the 400 (54.06), five days after setting the school record (52.31) while placing second in the Welker Invitational at Ashland, Wis. (52.31).

“I strained my hamstring in Ashland,” he said. “It was a little windy up by the big lake (Superior) and there were a lot of good runners up there. I’m probably about 80-90 (percent), but everything went okay. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t overdo it. This is a nice little meet, especially for a Saturday.”

Ontonagon sophomore Violet Amos took the 200 (28.26) and 400 (1:02.03) and was runner-up to Hurley senior Jaana Aukee on a lean (13.65) in the 100.

“I’ve been in the 27s in the 200, but I’m very happy with my time in the 400” Amos said. “This being a little smaller track was probably a factor because the curves are a little tighter. I prefer to run a 400-meter track, although I like the running surface and competition.

“It’s always fun to come here. Our track is getting resurfaced. I’m looking forward to running on it the next couple years.”

Ontonagon coach Brian Amos said he also enjoys going to Ironwood.

“Ironwood runs a nice meet, and we get a chance to see Hurley,” he added. “It’s always nice to run against somebody different.”

John VrancicJohn Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTOS (Top) Ribbons and medals are set out to be awarded during the first Jim LaBlonde Invitational at Ironwood. (Middle) The Ironwood teams take a photo together, at top, after sweeping the meets. Below, from left, LaBlonde’s brother-in-law Dave Lundin, sister Dena Lundin and parents Marlene and Jim LaBlonde attend the meet. (Photos provided by the Ironwood Red Devil Booster Club.)