Marquette Caps Another Dominating Run as UPD1's Best

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

June 6, 2021

KINGSFORD — The Marquette boys have been the track & field frontrunners in the Upper Peninsula all season.

They also finished the season that way by scoring 140 points in the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals on Saturday at Kingsford. Gladstone – which had won the last Finals in 2019 – followed with 93 points, and third-place Kingsford had 65.

“Hats off to Kingsford for putting on such a fine meet,” said Marquette coach Kyle Detmers. “We had some good performances and our seniors were good leaders. Kam Karp had a great day, and the Vanderschaaf brothers going 1-2 in the 1,600 was huge. Cullen Papin nearly won the 800, and Owen Beauchamp, Truman Langlois and Tyranon Dahlin had nice performances.”

Temperatures hovered in the low 90s with a heat index of 99, which is believed to be the hottest U.P. Finals on record.

Sophomore Colin Vanderschaaf took the 1,600-meter run in four minutes, 31.82 seconds, edging his twin brother Carson by nine hundredths of a second.

Carson Vanderschaaf then won the 3,200 (10:24.93), and Papin was clocked at 2:01.41 in the 800, just behind Escanaba senior Derek Douglas (2:00.68).

Menominee track“It was great,” said Carson Vanderschaaf said. “I was really happy with my 1,600. I took a more conservative approach because of the heat. The breeze helped a little on the home stretch, but it was still hot.

“I’m really excited for cross country this summer. With a summer full of training, I think I can improve.”

Karp won the 200 (23.24) and was runner-up to Calumet’s Dryden Nelson on a lean in the 100 (11.32) with Beauchamp third (11.44).

Nelson also took long jump at 20 feet, 6 inches with Dahlin runner-up (21-1½).

Lincoln Sager added a first for Marquette in the 400 (51.81), edging Houghton’s Donovan Dueweke by nine hundredths of a second.

Douglas’s effort on this hot and humid day was eight hundredths of a second better than his winning 800 time in Tuesday’s Northern Michigan Meet of Champions at Gaylord.

“It was a challenge trying to stay cool,” said Douglas, who will be running for St. Scholastica College in Duluth, Minn. next season. “I was sitting in front of a fan with icepacks on me, trying to stay cool.

“It feels great to get a U.P. Finals win. All the hard work I put in paid off.”

Gladstone trackMenominee junior Brady Schultz set the UP Division 1 Finals record and tied the school record in high jump at 6-8, edging Gladstone senior Ethan Milan who matched his own school record at 6-6. Dahlin placed third (5-10).

“It’s good to have that competition,” said Schultz. “We really help each other out. I was happy to get the U.P. record and tie the school record. It really helps to clear 6-8. I was tired when we got to 6-9.”

The previous UPD1 record (6-5) was set by Kingsford’s Jake Richmond in 2004.

Milam previously cleared 6-6 in a triangular meet at Gladstone on May 11.

“My friend Lucas Hughes told me to keep saying to myself ‘you’re going to make it,’” said Milam. “I’m definitely pleased with my season. I set multiple records. Taking a year off (due to COVID-19) made a big difference. I had a chance to take a break. It was definitely refreshing to get track back this year.”

Gladstone senior Blake Servant was a double champion, winning the discus (151-1) and 110 hurdles (15.53), while teammate Calvin Thibault edged Servant in the 300 hurdles (40.80).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette's Colin Vanderschaaf (right) out-strides twin brother Carson in the 1,600 Saturday at Kingsford. (Middle) Menominee's Brady Schultz wins the high jump with a UPD1 record 6-8. (Below) Gladstone's Calvin Thibault, left, edges teammate Blake Servant in the 300 hurdles. (Photos by Cara Kamps. Click to see more at RunMichigan.com.)

Hastings Relays Reigns as State's Oldest Continuous Track & Field Meet

By Steve Vedder
Special for MHSAA.com

April 10, 2024

Bob Branch remembers dabbling in other sports, but his first love was always running.

Mid-MichiganThe Hastings High School graduate admits he could never hit a baseball, football didn't especially appeal to him and basketball was just another way to spend time with friends. But for Branch, now 93, there was always track. That's the sport where his fondest and sharpest memories remain. And if you're talking track, many of his favorite memories come from participation in the state's oldest continuous track meet, the Hastings Relays.

Always held in early April, the meet dates back to 1937 – a bygone time that saw the first hostilities of World War II, gas at 20 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread selling for a dime.

And at a dusty old track surrounding the county fairgrounds in Hastings, a small relay event that included a scattering of participants from a dozen high schools was taking its first tentative steps.

Branch recalls a time when kids would run home after track practice because there were no buses, inexperienced young coaches had little actual knowledge of running fundamentals, and athletes looked at the sport as an afterthought after spending most of their high school days playing football and basketball.

The author wrote on the 50th anniversary of the Relays for the Hastings Banner nearly 40 years ago.For Branch, the relays were the ideal way to ease into the track season.

"I just liked to run," said Branch. "I remember I anchored a relay with my brother, and it always seemed cold when we had that meet. I remember teams would come from all over and you saw a lot of good athletes. Everybody seemed to have someone who was really good. Track wasn't very popular at that time, but I have a lot of good memories from running."

The Hastings Relays, which has changed formats and even names during its nearly nine-decade history, would traditionally kick off the track season. The meet was originally held at a makeshift quarter-mile track which surrounded the town's fairgrounds and was part of the city's annual Hastings Carnival – the track would become the midway during fair time.

The meet eventually moved to Johnson Field when the football field was dedicated in 1949 and ballooned to as many as 50 teams at its peak in 1957. For more than seven decades it was known as the Hastings Relays and then the Hastings Co-Ed relays before becoming the current Hastings Invitational, with the latest edition scheduled for Friday.

Johnson Field had a cinder track before it became an all-weather surface in the 1980s. During a time long before computers would be used to organize meet heats in mere minutes, Hastings coaches of all sports – defined as "volunteers" by the athletic department – would meet on the Friday before competition to hash out events.

People associated with the meet still recall the camaraderie built on those long Friday nights, followed by working what would often become 10-hour meets. Steve Hoke has been involved since watching his father, Jack, coach 15 of the meets beginning in 1951. Steve Hoke later competed in the relays during the early 1970s before becoming an assistant track coach, later the Hastings athletic director and now a volunteer worker.

"It was always a huge deal," said Hoke, who said the meet began as a pure relay event before transitioning to its current team format in the 1990s. "I remember we'd line the track the night before, and all the coaches would come to the house to organize everything. There was a brotherhood.”

Past athlete, coach and athletic director Steve Hoke shows some of the Relays awards from the 1930s.If you quiz many of the fleet of volunteers who've worked the relays over the years, each has a different memory from the meet. While Hoke describes the brotherhood and Branch the outstanding competition, others remember weather and the time a thunderstorm wiped out the line markings on the cinder track, or waking up to find three inches of snow that caused a rare cancellation of the meet. Others recall the shock of moving from the cinder to all-weather track or using the meet as an early measuring stick of what it would take to qualify for the state meet. The real old-timers remember the meet disappearing for three years during World War II.

Hastings native and Western Michigan grad Tom Duits was the state’s first collegian to break the four-minute mile when he ran a 3:59.2 at a meet in Philadelphia in 1978. Duits, who ran in three Hastings Relays, was in line to join the U.S. Olympic team in 1980 before the United States pulled out of the games due to tension with Russia.

Duits has his own memories of the meet and the competition he faced there.

"I remember sunshine and being excited to be competing again. There were all these athletes swarming around; it was an awesome display of talent," he said. "It was always one of the best meets we'd be in. You could pretty much see the level of runners who would be at state, which made it a big deal. It was always early, but you could tell where you stood. It was great exposure."

Hastings track star Wayne Oom competed in four Hastings Relays from 1984-87. One of his sharpest memories was the difference between running on a raw cinder track versus the far more comfortable all-weather surface.

"Those cinders would grind into your skin," said Oom, part of the Hastings school record in the two-mile relay. "But I think it helped us because when we'd go to other tracks, it seemed we would run faster. I remember how competitive it was, especially in the distances. There were some great runners."

While participants have their unique memories, so do coaches. Former Saxons coach Paul Fulmer remembers 2008 when his team finished first on the boys side of the meet while his wife, Grand Haven coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer, saw her girls team win the championship.

Tom Duits was one of the state’s biggest track stars of the 1970s and ran in three Hastings Relays."I knew we were one of the favorites to win because we were usually near the top of our conference and Regional," he said. "But then Katie's team was pretty good, and it was cool for them to win too."

Fulmer, who coached Hastings from 1978-81 and then 1985-2010, said at least part of the meet's popularity was derived from a unique way of scoring. Instead of individuals earning points solo, participants worked in pairs. For instance, two athletes would combine their shot put or long jump scores. New events such as the 1,500 relay and sprint medley were added.

"We had a tradition of being the state's oldest meet, and that was a big deal," Fulmer said. "And we ran a good relay; that attracted teams too. We took a lot of pride in that.

"And we'd get quite a lot of people to come to the meet. We'd set up until like 9 or 10 p.m., and then we'd have a party with all the coaches on Friday night."

While the meet has stretched 87 years, Branch said early participants and current runners have one thing in common: a drive to win. Branch ran in an era when the popularity of high school track was in its infancy. Today some of the best all-around athletes at a school are involved in the track program. The relays span the nearly nine decades in between.

"The quality of teams has gotten better and better," said Branch, the 1947 Lower Peninsula Class B Finals champ in the 220. "And this has made for a better meet. We would get guys who played football or baseball kind of drift into track, and that made the sport better. I think people began to appreciate track because we'd get teams from all over.

"We went from not really knowing what we were doing to track being a good sport. Even then, I'm not sure we appreciated what we had. We really liked the Hastings Relays and always wanted to do well there. It became popular and quite an honor to do well. Those are the kind of things I remember."

PHOTOS (Top) Racers run at the Hastings Relays, with several more awaiting their turns to compete at the longtime meet. (2) The author wrote on the 50th anniversary of the Relays for the Hastings Banner nearly 40 years ago. (3) Past athlete, coach and athletic director Steve Hoke shows some of the Relays awards from the 1930s. (4) Tom Duits was one of the state’s biggest track stars of the 1970s and ran in three Hastings Relays. (Top photo by Dan Goggins, Hoke photo provided by Steve Hoke and Duits photos provided by Tom Duits.)