Kloss Raring to Make His Move in D3

April 20, 2018

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

HARBOR SPRINGS – Jeremy Kloss is growing weary of northern Michigan’s cold, snowy spring.

“I’m a little frustrated,” said the Harbor Springs junior, who won the 1,600 and 3,200 meters at last June’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 Track & Field Finals. “I really want to get a meet in.”

A mid-April snowstorm blasted the area with more than a foot of snow last weekend. Most schools were closed Monday – and some Tuesday.

Kloss used the extended weekend break to put in an eight-mile run – his longest of the year.

“I had to find roads that weren’t as snow-covered as others,” he said. “It wasn’t the best footing.”

No sport has been able to gain traction.

According to the National Weather Service in Gaylord, this is the coldest and snowiest April on record in the northern Lower Peninsula. Some 37.3 inches of snow has fallen in Gaylord this month, eclipsing the previous record of 27 inches in 1923. Traverse City has had 27.1 inches, surpassing the mark of 17.3 in 2007. In addition, the average daytime temperature has been running 18 degrees below normal in this part of the state.

Harbor Springs had its first three track meets cancelled or postponed. The weather is expected to start turning this weekend, so there is hope the season will get underway next week, about three weeks from Regionals.

“I looked on athletic.net and it appears most schools, even downstate, haven’t had too many meets,” said Mike Kloss, Jeremy’s father and the longtime Rams boys track coach. “That makes me feel a little better. If they’re running downstate, and you’re not, then you feel like you’re behind the 8 ball.

“The weather’s got to give us a break.”

Jeremy sure hopes so.

“I don’t know if my mom (Emily, the girls track coach) has taken the snow tires off her vehicle yet,” he said. “I haven’t taken the sand bags out of my truck.”

Once the season starts, Jeremy Kloss is hoping to build off last year’s accomplishments when he set personal bests in capturing the 1,600 (4:25.73) and 3,200 (9:46.25) at the Finals. He was also on the 3,200 relay team that took third and the 1,600 relay that placed seventh. That helped spark the Rams to a third-place team finish.

Kloss, whose three older brothers previously ran for the Rams, jokingly noted last June before the championship meet that his brothers always had one question for him – “Why aren’t you running faster?”

“If you’ve been around us, you know it’s not an easy crowd at times,” said Mike with a laugh.

The 17-year-old put that to rest and now owns bragging rights in the family with the fastest 1,600 and 3,200 times.

Now he’s hoping to keep dropping and challenge school marks in the 800 (Jacques Henning, 1:56.36), 1,600 (Tec Adams, 4:16) and 3,200 (Adams, 9:24).

“My goals are ambitious,” he said. “Aim high.”

“He’s self-motivated,” added his father. “Like (Monday), he went out and ran eight miles in crappy weather. He has big goals in what he wants to do, and that’s what drives him. He wants to be good. He works hard.”

Kloss finished second to Caro’s Yami Albrecht (15:44.7 to 15:47.1) at the LP Division 3 Cross Country Final in the fall. Then, for the most part, he put training on hold to play basketball during the winter.

“Toward the end of the (basketball) season I would wake up at 6 a.m. and run three times a week, and then on the other two mornings I would go to the gym with a couple buddies for workouts (before school),” he said.

All in hopes of getting off to a fast start in track.

Then, Mother Nature intervened.

Kloss is motivated since he’ll have to now prove himself in Division 3.

“There’s a really good group of (distance runners) in Division 3,” he said. “It’s a tough group to hop in with, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The field includes Albrecht, Hanover-Horton’s Landon Melling, Cass City’s CarLee Stimpfel, Saugatuck’s Corey Gorgas and Kent City’s Fraser Wilson. Gorgas was second (9:20.16), Stimpfel third (9:30.77) and Wilson fourth (9:36.23) in the Division 3 3,200 last June. In the 1,600, Melling finished second (4:17.04), Albrecht third (4:18.49), and Stimpfel fourth (4:19.55).

“That 9:20 Corey (Gorgas) ran in the 3,200 is fast, and I think he ran that fast indoors (over the winter),” said Mike Kloss. “D-3 is a lot different. In D-4 you might have one or two (vying for the title), but in D-3 you’ll have five or six. It’s another challenge, another step.”

In D-4 a year ago, Kloss won the 1,600 by nearly three seconds and the 3,200 by nearly eight.

“I think Jeremy could have gone 4:20 (in the 1,600) in the right type race,” said his father.

East Jordan coach Matt Peterson agrees that Kloss will face a stiffer challenge in Division 3.

“The times will be quicker and the fields will be deeper,“ he said. “But having said that, he was close to winning the D-3 cross country title. It wouldn’t surprise me if he placed very well or won at the state track meet.

“It goes back to his persistence. That’s the one word I would use to describe him. I’ve seen him run since middle school and I’ve never seen him run what I consider a bad race. I’ve never seen him mentally quit in a race, no matter how he feels. Every runner has an off day where they don’t feel right. He runs through that. That’s huge in anything, including life.”

Peterson and Mike Kloss were college teammates at Ferris State in the mid-1980s. He’s watched Jeremy grow up, starting when Jeremy was just weeks old and his parents brought him along to the state cross country meet.

“He’s a nice kid,” said Peterson. “I’ve watched him run at numerous state meets and the way he conducts himself, his attitude, is unbelievable. I was at the D-4 track meet last spring, and after he won the 3,200 he ran across the track and hugged me – and I’m an opposing coach. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Mike Kloss will let the next few weeks play out to see what events Jeremy will run come Regionals and, most likely, the Division 3 Finals.

“It’s way too early to make those decisions,” Mike said.

Jeremy, meanwhile, is excited to see what the 3,200 relay can do. Senior Max Sydow and sophomore David Harrell return from a unit that posted a podium finish last year. Sophomore Austin Smar will join the mix.

“If we all drop our times, which I think we can, we can be pretty good,” Jeremy Kloss said.

It will be an important few weeks for Kloss as he also tries to showcase his talents for college coaches. He’s received attention from some Division I schools outside the state, although his preference is to remain in-state.

“I would like to be closer to home,” he said.

For Mike and Emily Kloss, this is their 28th year coaching in the Harbor Springs system. They also lead the cross country programs. Mike recently celebrated his 30th anniversary with the Michigan State Police. Most of those years were spent working the nightshift. Now, he’s working days as a court officer.

His training regimen for distance runners is based on low mileage, high intensity workouts.

“It’s not that we went in with that thought,” he said. “We adapted to it. If I ran kids big miles, we would lose them and we don’t have many spares.

“Jeremy has been gradually increasing (his miles), but I don’t want him to run college workouts in high school. It seems to be working for him.”

Jeremy said there’s another benefit to lower mileage.

“Kids are not getting hurt,” he said. “I can’t remember anyone having a stress fracture. The closest thing we’ve had is a couple kids with shin splints for a week or so. We’re staying healthy.”

As a trade-off, runners are asked to test themselves when they do work out.

“My dad likes to say, ‘A little faster if you can stand it,’” Jeremy said. “We have that quote on our sweatshirts and T-shirts.”

Now, if they just had better weather to start applying it.

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Harbor Springs’ Jeremy Kloss leads the pack during last season’s 1,600 championship race at the LP Division 4 Finals. (Middle) Kloss crosses first to win the 3,200 title. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)

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

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)