Kingsford Champion Again on Home Track

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 1, 2014

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). 

Click for full results.

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

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.)