By Chris Dobrowolski
Special for Second Half
MCBAIN — It’s been said that records are made to be broken.
McBain twins Keegan and Klaudia O’Malley seem to have taken that notion to heart.
The seniors’ names are all over the school record books for track & field as they wind down their standout careers. Klaudia holds the all-time marks for the 800 meters (2 minutes, 17 seconds), 1,600 (5:04), 3,200 (11:06) and as an integral part of the Ramblers’ 3,200 relay team (9:57), while Keegan broke a 42-year-old school record in the 3,200 earlier this season in a time of 9:33, shaving five seconds off what had been the longest-standing boys track & field record on the school’s board.
“They hold all those distance records,” said McBain boys track & field head coach Pat Maloney. “Going down in history, they’re going to be talked about. People will be compared to them for years to come.
“It’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes. People don’t see how many miles they put in year after year after year.”
The O’Malleys certainly come by their running prowess honestly. Their father, Tim, has been the cross country coach at Cadillac for the past 18 years and has spent the last seven years as an assistant track coach at McBain. Their mother, Tasha, coaches cross country at McBain. Both parents have been active in competitive running as well, with Tasha having competed in multiple Boston Marathons among myriad other races.
“Our life pretty much revolves around running — in a fun way, not in a bad way,” said Tim O’Malley. “My wife raced a lot. I would just take the kids and pace them in the 5Ks that they wanted to run. They seemed to like it.”
The O’Malley children – including Maggie, the twins’ younger sister by two years – didn’t know any differently than being immersed in a running lifestyle.
“I’ve grown up with running,” said Klaudia.
Tim O’Malley jokingly says Keegan and Klaudia’s running careers actually began with running as a form of babysitting. Even when they were as young as 7 years old, the O’Malley twins would tag along with their father to practice. They attended cross country camps with the team, would run right along with the group, and even get to compete in open races following meets.
“I loved it and his team was so supportive, so I just got into it,” said Keegan.
Not only did the twins enjoy running, but it became quickly apparent that they were good at it too. Really good, in fact. Keegan and Klaudia started establishing school records in elementary school, and that continued as they moved into middle school and then high school. No one was surprised to see them become dominant runners at the high school level, to say the least.
“They hold all those distance records,” said Maloney. “People have been waiting for them to shine, and they haven’t disappointed by any means.”
Klaudia is the four-time Highland Conference champion in the 800 and 1,600, and a three-time winner of the 3,200 — she didn’t run that event this year. She has qualified for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals four times in the 1,600, three times with the 3,200 relay team, and twice each in the 800, 3,200 and with the 1,600 relay, earning all-state honors a total of six times across four events. She is qualified for the Finals in the 800, 1,600, 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay this season. Three of the four school records she holds came as a result of breaking her own record-setting times.
“Last year I didn’t feel as confident, but this year I feel a lot stronger and a lot more confident with my running,” said Klaudia. “It’s sweet to show, just because I’m from a small school, you can still have a lot of talent.”
Keegan is a three-time league champion in the 3,200 and twice has won the 1,600 and ran with the winning 3,200 relay. He also has four Regional crowns to his credit — twice winning the 3,200. He is qualified for the Finals in the 1,600, 3,200 and with the 3,200 relay. He battled an injury a year ago but has seemed to make up for any lost time with a dynamic senior season. That includes shattering Ron Eising’s school record in the 3,200 that had been around since 1977 with a stunning performance at the Shepherd Invitational that eclipsed Keegan’s personal best by 16 seconds.
“It was kind of like a dream come true because the guy who had the record (Eising) is very supportive of me,” said Keegan. “He came to the track and mentored me. Told me he wanted me to beat it. He wanted me to take after him. I put in a lot of training in the offseason, and I was really surprised when I got it, but I knew I could do it. I wasn’t terribly close. It was kind of a big PR (personal record).”
The twins will complete their high school careers at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Jenison High School, then are taking their talents to Grand Valley State University in the fall. They say they are close and relish the idea of heading in the same direction for the next chapter of their careers.
“At first I didn’t really want to (go to the same school),” said Klaudia. “But senior year got going, and we got running together again. Now I’m glad I chose the same college as him. I’ll have a buddy there right away and I can still watch him and cheer him on at meets.”
Maloney has seen the work Keegan and Klaudia put into running, and he’s witnessed the records fall. He will be watching keenly to see how the O’Malleys perform at the collegiate level.
“They’re going to do a great job representing McBain, their family and northern Michigan runners,” he said. “I think they’ll be right in the heat of things for the next four years.”
Chris Dobrowolski has covered northern Lower Peninsula sports since 1999 at the Ogemaw County Herald, Alpena News, Traverse City Record-Eagle and currently as sports editor at the Antrim Kalkaska Review since 2016. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org 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) The O’Malley twins, Klaudia and Keegan, run their respective events during last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. (Middle) Klaudia O’Malley, second from right, gets ready to start the 800. (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.)