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@example.com 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.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)