Each week, Second Half gives "High 5s" to athletes and a team based on their accomplishments the previous week or throughout the season.
This week's individual recipients will finish their MHSAA careers Saturday hoping to add to championship resumes -- while our team honoree is hoping to take the first step this weekend toward a first Finals title in program history.
Track and Field
Cross won both the 200 (25.56) and 400 meters (55.98) at the Oakland County Invitational, setting a meet record in the latter. Her 400 win avenged a Regional loss to Birmingham Seaholm's Aubrey Wilberding the week before. Cross also finished second in the 200 at the Regional and is qualified to run both at Saturday's MHSAA Division 1 Final at East Kentwood. She's hoping to improve on the all-Finals record she set last season in the 400 of 54.29 seconds -- and believes she can break 54 this weekend. She's signed to run next season at Eastern Michigan University -- and has beaten two forms of cancer the last two years, plus spent a short time homeless.
My favorite runner: "All-time, it's Sanya Richards (Olympic medalist and World Champion sprinter). I just love how she runs, the fact that she's always looking forward to getting better. She'll run a 50 that day (in the 400), and say 'I can do better than that.' I love that about her. She's never satisfied."
Hoop dreams: "Basketball was my first love, but track is the sport that gets me my money," Cross said with a laugh. "I love track with a passion though. When I'm on the track, nobody can hurt me -- they can't catch me. ... My favorite basketball player right now is Swin Cash. I love her. I like her tenacity. She always went out there and gave 110 percent."
I learned the most about running from: "My former coach Calvin Johnson (now at Southfield Lathrup). He's been there for me. ... Because of him, I fell back into track, got that same passion (as for hoops)."
Up next: Cross will major in social work and hopes to someday work with children. "It's important to me because I know how it is to not have anybody to fight for you. I know what feels like for kids to need somebody. I want to be an advocate for them."
Lansing Catholic senior
Track and Field
Zingsheim will attempt to finish his record-setting career with a few more MHSAA championships at Saturday's Division 3 Final after winning the MHSAA Division 3 cross country title in the fall. He also earned an MHSAA track championship as part of the Cougars' 800-meter relay in 2011, and will run that relay, plus the 1,600 and 3,200 relays and the open 800 at Comstock. He won the 800 at his Regional by nearly five seconds with a time of 1:55.63. Zingsheim will continue to run this fall at Georgetown University.
Track man, track fan: "There's a certain thing about running. You've gotta love it. We're all Flotrack junkies. I was watching the Illinois state meet yesterday, the Texas state meet last week."
I learned the most about running from: "Probably my brother (Brandon, a 2001 Lansing Catholic grad). That's how I was introduced to the sport. He'd say, 'Zack, I'm going to run,' and it seemed like he was gone for two hours. I was just astounded, so shocked. He'd race me in sprints. I was pretty quick, and he was more of a distance guy. I never beat him, but he knew I loved the challenge. I've also been blessed with great coaches like Tim (Simpson, Lansing Catholic's head coach), our assistant coach Tim O'Hara, and guys like (teammates) Jimmy (Hicks) and Austin (Winter). The passion they have for the sport, they inspire you to want to be good."
I run like: "I can relate distance-wise to Robby Andrews. He ran for the University of Virginia. ... He's a late-kick guy. I used to be, but not as much this year. But growing up, as a runner, I knew I had foot speed waiting. I'd just wait and see what happened."
Up next: Zingsheim will run both cross country and track at Georgetown, and will major in accounting or finance. "I took an 'Intro to Business' class at LCC, and I really enjoyed it. I love the math side of business."
Richland Gull Lake baseball
The Blue Devils are 34-2 and won the Greater Kalamazoo Tournament on Saturday with a 9-7 victory over Portage Central, formerly ranked in Division 1. Gull Lake is No. 1 in Division 2, and the Greater Kalamazoo title was its first since 2005. The Blue Devils are 72-4 over the last two seasons, which last spring included a run to the MHSAA Semifinals. They've continued to surge the last three weeks despite the loss of senior pitcher Nate Stegman -- and all-state selection in 2011 -- to an injury. (Click to read more.)
This spring's previous honorees
- Sarah Appold, Saginaw Valley Lutheran softball
- Katie Brozovich, Clarkston tennis
- Sarita Dotson, Battle Creek Lakeview track and field
- Lauren Hooker, East Grand Rapids lacrosse
- Drake Johnson, Ann Arbor Pioneer track and field
- Jake McFadden, Clare track and field
- Mike Nagy, Manistique golf
- Cullen Prena, Walled Lake Central track and field
- Erika Southworth, Decatur softball
- Nick Stiles, Bath baseball
- Malloy Weber, Northville soccer
- Garret Zuk, White Lake Lakeland track and field
- Detroit Western International baseball
- Grand Rapids West Catholic golf
- Grosse Pointe South girls track and field
- Muskegon Mona Shores golf
- Remus Chippewa Hills girls track and field
- Stevensville Lakeshore softball
BLISSFIELD – Last fall, June Miller raced for an MHSAA cross country title at Michigan International Speedway. During the winter she played in the Division 3 Basketball Final at the Breslin Center. In the spring, she competed at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 track & field championships in Kent City.
As she embarks on her senior year at Blissfield Community Schools in southeast Michigan, Miller isn’t concerned about an encore.
“I don’t worry about topping my junior season,” she said. “I don’t feel the need to. I’ll fight for it to the best of my ability, but if I don’t make it that’s okay. There were a lot of factors that went into last year, and I can’t control all of them this year.
“I’ll leave my best out there and know that I gave it my all, and in the end that’s the true accomplishment. If it takes me that far or further, then great. If not, that’s okay.”
Miller’s remarkable run to MHSAA Finals in three sports remains even more impressive when considering she had eight goals and five assists playing defense for the Royals soccer team.
“Shows up to work, busts her tail every practice, every game,” said Blissfield girls basketball coach Ryan Gilbert. “Never have to worry about June Miller.”
Miller is as steady an athlete as they come, never getting too high or too low in pressure situations. In basketball, Gilbert said Miller never met a shot she didn’t like. Miller started all 29 games last season, leading the team in 3-pointers.
Gilbert said Miller is even-keeled.
“It takes a while to get into the ‘June Miller circle,’ but I’m almost in,” he said. “This is her senior year; this is my year. She’s very funny when you get to know her and has a brilliant mind.
“She wants to win over everything,” Gilbert said.
Miller wasn’t the fastest runner on the cross country team last fall – that spot would belong to her younger sister, Hope. June has no problem with that.
“I love running with my sister,” she said. “She’s an amazing and incredibly kind person. Her dedication to running inspires me and keeps me fighting for it. We train together sometimes and she’s the one that pushes me, and I love that.
“I always knew she’d be faster than me someday, and I couldn’t be prouder of how fast she’s become and how much she’s achieved. (People might) think I’d hold some resentment for her beating me while I’m older, but she’s lived in my shadow for years and I’m so glad she’s been able to find her place that she can dominate.”
Blissfield is eyeing a big season in cross country after winning a Regional and just missing the top 10 at the Final a year ago. The Miller sisters are a big reason for the giddiness.
“I’m ready to leave it all out there,” Miller said. “It’s my senior season, and I want to go out strong. I think the end goal for all of us is to really push it this season and improve with each race so by the time we hit Regionals we’re in the best shape physically and mentally so we can leave it all on the course to get to states again.”
Because of her work schedule this summer, Miller missed some of the team workouts but was able to get the details from her sister and went out on her own time and trained to build up her mileage in preparation for the season.
“I think the experience from last year will give us something to fight for,” she said. “It allows us to look at the season with our end goal being the state meet. It gives us a passion and something to fight for.”
Blissfield cross country coach Ryan Bills called Miller a strong competitor.
“She is fun kid,” he said. “You never know which June you’re going to get – funny, chatty June or serious, no-nonsense June. Either way she always gives it her all during competition, which is why she has seen so much success the past year.”
The four-sport athlete spent the first couple of weeks of summer refreshing her body before kicking it into high gear.
She did take some time to reflect on all the places she got to play and compete last year and is grateful to be part of a team that helped her reach those places.
“It was a unique experience,” she said. “When I’m playing basketball or running track and cross country, I’m not focused on where I am physically – instead I’m in my head focused on what I need to do.
“Once you get to someplace, you stop thinking about getting there and you move on to the next step of being there and doing what you need to there.”
Miller is one of the top students in her class. She’s currently trying to decide whether she wants to pursue playing soccer in college. She wants to major in business and minor in sustainability, eventually getting a master’s degree in architecture.
“I want to be a sustainable design architect,” she said, “who can better the world through the art of architecture.”
Miller’s future looks bright, as does the outlook for this athletic year. In all three sports for which she reached the Finals last year, the Royals have enough returning talent to make lengthy runs again.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Miller said, about four days before the first cross country event of the season. “I want to make it to all those state tournaments again, but I want to do it with my teammates because they’re the ones that make it memorable and something to remember forever.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Blissfield’s June Miller (750) races during a cross country meet last fall. (Middle) Miller pulls up for a jumper during last season’s basketball postseason run. (Cross country photo by Deloris Clark-Osborne; basketball photo by Gary Sullivan.)