Ishpeming 'Grinds Out' 4th Title in 5 Seasons

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 3, 2018

KINGSFORD — First-place finishes may not have been plentiful for the Ishpeming boys Saturday, but they placed in enough events to edge Iron Mountain 90-82 for their fourth Upper Peninsula Division 2 track title in five years.

Third-place Norway scored 64 points, three more than reigning champ Newberry.

Hart Holmgren’s leap of 19 feet, 5½ inches provided Ishpeming with its lone first on this sunny, mild and breezy day at Flivver Field.

“I thought we’d win it by a little more, although it was still a good win,” said Ishpeming coach P.J. Pruett. “Our guys had to grind it out. I was very pleased with their fight to win. Our depth came through.”

The Hematites placed second in three relays and got runner-up finishes from Holmgren in high jump (6-2), Jonah Broberg in the 1,600 at 4 minutes, 48.24 seconds and Spencer Giroux in the 3,200 (10:38.83). They claimed three places in the 3,200 and two apiece in the 800 and 1,600.

“Distance is where we got our major points,” said Pruett. “That’s where we won the meet. Overall, we had a lot of third-place medal winners. Gavin Sundberg was seeded fifth in the 400 and placed third (53.01). Every point counts, and that was proven today. We put more than two in each (distance) event and that’s why we won.

Beating Newberry in the Regional (May 18 at Manistique) was a big boost for us. Last year, we were runner-up in D-2 and Iron Mountain was runner-up in D-1. Surviving the Regional was key for us.”

Iron Mountain’s Michael Kulas won the 800 (2:09.14), helped the winning 1,600 (3:40.31) and 3,200 (8:44.88) and placed second in the 400 (51.57). Junior Charlie Gerhard added a first in the 300 hurdles (41.1) and second in the 110s (16.55).

Norway senior Inocencio Stankevich won the 110s (16.0) and was runner-up in the 300s (41.93), and Josh Boulden provided a first in discus (131-3).

Newberry swept the sprint relays, edging Ishpeming on a lean for first in the 400 (45.35) and taking the 800 (1:34.05) in what is believed to be a school record.

“We fixed Brandon’s handoff,” said Newberry senior Andre James, who anchored both relays. “He (Christensen) dropped the baton in the (Straits Area) conference meet, but he did it perfect today. The 4x1 was really close and in the 4x2 we won by more than we thought. We just have some fast kids on the team and had a lot of adrenalin on a big stage. It’s exciting to be here. A lot of people turn out for this.”

Stephenson junior Montel Glover was a triple winner, taking the 100 (11.36), 200 (22.98) and 400 (51.3).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ishpeming Gavin Sundberg leads off the 800-meter relay. (Middle) Stephenson's Montell Glover, left, outleans Iron Mountain's Michael Kulas in the 400. (Photos by Cara Kamps. Click for more at

Hackett Catholic Prep's Baldwin Carrying Hopes from Home to Paris

By Pam Shebest
Special for

July 12, 2024

KALAMAZOO — Heath Baldwin studied Spanish at Hackett Catholic Prep, but he will need to brush up on some French as he heads to Paris to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The recent Michigan State University grad, who earned a master’s degree in marketing and research analytics, will compete in the decathlon, a two-day event Aug. 2-3 at the Stade de France.

While the Olympics will be televised in the United States, because of the time difference, Baldwin’s events will take place locally during the early morning hours.

Wishing him a Bon Voyage, more than 200 former classmates, friends, family and well-wishers plus six television crews congregated Thursday for an impressive sendoff, starting with the Hackett “Summer Ensemble” playing the school fight song.

A 2019 Hackett grad, Baldwin led the track & field team to three Regional championships, two MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 titles, was an individual five-time Finals champion, holds four school records and was named track & field Athlete of the Year for all divisions his senior season by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association.

“I went through a lot at Hackett, obviously, with my dad (Roger)  passing away (in 2016) and I always had a great support system of people who took care of my family and made sure we were doing good,” Baldwin said. “They’ve stuck with me through college, too, following me in all my events and to this point, so it’s cool that I’m doing well now and they’re along for the ride.”

Hackett clears a hurdle during the 2019 MHSAA Finals.The ride will begin Tuesday when Baldwin travels to Germany to train before heading to Paris.

“Everything’s starting to feel more real,” he said. “I think once I get to Germany and start to train with other people, we’ll be able to get a little competitive. I think it will be fun training in Paris.”

Facing a huge crowd in Paris should not be a problem, he said.

“The more people will only help me. I’m a big adrenalin guy. I feel like I get more nervous talking at an event like this than I do for the Olympic Games.

“Once I get out on the track, everything just feels natural to me.”

Naturally a no-brainer

Baldwin’s Finals championships for Hackett had come in high jump, long jump and both hurdles races. Tackling the grueling decathlon was a no-brainer.

“I was good at the hurdles, high jump, long jump, which are three very technical events in the decathlon, so if you’re good at those three, you usually can pick up the other ones pretty easily is what they say,” he said.

“Also, I played baseball as a pitcher, so that correlated with the javelin. A lot of college coaches recruited me off that, I think.”

Baldwin said knew 2024 was an Olympic year, “so I thought it was something I maybe could do. After last year, when I scored above 8,000 points (in the decathlon) for the first time and came in sixth at the USAs, it became a little more realistic for me.”

The personable athlete not only qualified for the Olympics at this year’s U.S. Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., but won the decathlon with a personal best 8,625 points.

He finished first in the shot put (54 feet, 2½ inches), high jump (6-11¾), 110 hurdles (13.77 seconds) and javelin throw (218-9). 

MHSAA trophies Baldwin helped win decorated the stage for his sendoff.Other decathlon events are the 100 dash, long jump, 400 run, discus, pole vault and 1,500 run.

Baldwin earned Great Lakes Region Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year honors and was named first team Academic All-American with a 3.8 GPA.

"We were awestruck at his athletic achievements (at Hackett),” said Judge Paul Bridenstine, the “Voice of the Irish.” 

“While he continued to play football, basketball, baseball exceptionally at Hackett, his athletic life was transformed when he was introduced to (former HCP track & field coach Simon Cholometes).”

Cholometes said Baldwin’s success is something that didn’t come out of nowhere.

“Heath put the wheels in motion a long time ago and worked harder than most people can even fathom,” he said. “I can remember 5:40 in the morning, Heath running sprints up that hill over there,” he said, pointing. “A foot of snow, running sprints up that tall hill.

“In college, he’s a Big 10 champ, three-time All-American, Great Lakes Region Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, MSU’s Athlete of the Year twice, holds five school records plus Big 10 records in heptathlon and decathlon.”

Family won't be far

Baldwin plans to be in Paris for the opening ceremonies and will be cheered on by his mom Suzann, sister Hope and brothers Aiden and Gowan.

The Olympian also will have a remembrance of his late father with him. He has a tattoo of his dad’s signature on the inside of his upper left arm.

A hurdle that was gifted to Baldwin on Thursday.Losing his father “was a big part of my life and obviously changed my perspective in the way I train and the way I live in a way he’d be proud of,” Baldwin said.

“We set some big goals going into this year and it’s been a dream. I love representing the Kalamazoo community and Michigan, Hackett and Michigan State.

“I like to remember everybody I compete for, and I think that gives you a bigger purpose when you go out there. That’s definitely something I’ll be doing at the Olympics in Paris. I’m excited to represent there and hopefully go for a medal.”

PHOTOS (Top) Health Baldwin, seated, signs a hat during his sendoff Thursday at Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep. (2) Baldwin clears a hurdle during the 2019 MHSAA Finals. (3) A hurdle was gifted to Baldwin on Thursday. (4) MHSAA trophies Baldwin helped win decorated the stage for his sendoff. (Sendoff photo by Pam Shebest.)