KINGSFORD — The Upper Peninsula Track Finals were still being held in Marquette the last time the Kingsford boys were crowned champions.
It was 1990. Bill Clinton was president, gasoline was selling for approximately $1 a gallon and the Flivvers were U.P. Class A-B champs.
They finally got the opportunity to be crowned Division 1 champions at their own facility Saturday, scoring 127 points. Marquette squeezed past Negaunee 82-81 for the runner-up trophy.
“The kids came together as a team, and I think today showed our depth,” said Kingsford assistant coach Bryan Johnson. “Even after winning big in our (Great Northern) conference meet last week, the guys never lost focus and Doug (coach Roberts) instilled that in them.”
The Flivvers added an exclamation mark to their victory by winning the day’s final event, the 1600-meter relay in a school-record 3 minutes, 31.18 seconds.
“We all ran great,” said junior Tyler Roberts, who anchored that relay. “There was great competition here today. Everybody competed hard, and we got it done. All year we trained hard and a ton of hard practices prepared us for today.”
Roberts also won the 400-meter dash in 51.08 seconds. Senior Jonah Carlson took discus at 140 feet, 11 inches and Ryan Camp earned the title in pole vault (13-0).
The Flivvers also won the 800 relay (1:31.94) and placed second in the 3200 event.
Senior Cole Tengesdahl, who helped the 800 relay, was runner-up in the 100 (11.57) and 300 (22.9).
Senior Ed Sexton added a second in the 110 hurdles (16.81). Junior Dan Fleming was runner-up in the 300 (42.49), with sophomore Brandon Kowalkowski second in high jump (5-11).
Sault Ste. Marie sophomore Parker Scott set a U.P. record in the 1,600 (4:18.09) and won the 800 (1:58.59), retaining his title in both races. He also placed third in the 3,200 (10:26.53) and helped the Blue Devils finish fourth in the 3,200 relay.
“I tried to run an even pace for the first two laps in the 1600,” said Scott, who will be moving to Texas with his family this summer. “I eased back a little in the third lap because I wanted to save it for the finish. I really like running up here, and I wanted to end it with a bang. This is really a special meet, and it’s great to have built all the camaraderie.”
Marquette opened with a victory in the 3,200 relay, and sophomore Lance Rambo was runner-up in the 1,600 (4:34.09) and 3,200 (10:16.79). Junior Andrew Banitt, who helped the winning relay, added a second in the 800 (2:01.71).
Negaunee had double winners in senior Kevin O’Keefe and Jason Bell. O’Keefe was clocked at 11.38 and 22.6 seconds in the 100 and 200, respectively, and Bell captured the 110 hurdles (15.95) and 300s (41.72).
Houghton junior Jacob Colling, running with stress fracture in his leg, did only the 3,200 and won that race in 10:07.67.
Defending champ Gladstone dropped to sixth this time with 39 points. Senior Cody Malanowski wont shot put (49-1½) and took second in discus (137-8).
PHOTO: Kingsford's Lucas Jennings works to move up in the pack during the 1,600 at Saturday's U.P. Division 1 Final. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.
“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”
Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.
“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.
Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.
As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.
He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.
“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.
Guillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.
“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.
Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.
At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.
“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”
Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.
In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.
Gribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.
“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”
Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.
“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”
In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.
“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.
“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”
Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.
“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”
Big shoes to fill
As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.
Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.
Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.
Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.
“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.
As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”
His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.
He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.
“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”
Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.
“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.
“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at email@example.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)