Lansing Waverly senior – Track & Field
The reigning Lower Peninsula Division 1 champion in the 300-meter hurdles, Harris put himself in position to challenge for multiple titles at next weekend’s MHSAA Finals with wins in both the 300 (38.71 seconds) and 110 (14.23) at last week’s Regional at East Lansing, earning him the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Harris’ winning 300 time was his season best, as was his 14.14 prelim time in the 110. Also an all-league football player during the fall and starting guard in basketball, Harris is among the state’s elite on the track and undefeated in both hurdles races this spring despite getting a slow start after hurting his right ankle in his final basketball game this winter. As noted, he won the LPD1 title in the 300 last season in a personal-record 37.81 seconds and just missed the double finishing seventh hundredths of a second behind East Kentwood’s Job Mayhue in the 110. Harris also finished second in the 110 and third in the 300 at the LPD2 Finals as a sophomore, and qualified for the LPD2 Finals in both races as a freshman, earning seventh place in the 110.
The 37.81 at last year’s Finals and the 14 flat he ran in the 110 at the 2018 Regional are Waverly school records – which says a lot as the Warriors have produced a number of state contenders over coach David Pike’s 29 seasons leading one of mid-Michigan’s strongest programs. Harris will announce next week where he’ll continue his academic and athletic careers at the collegiate level – he has Division I and II opportunities – and will bring both first-class hurdling skills and a 3.6 GPA with aspirations of studying kinesiology and becoming an athletic trainer.
Coach David Pike said: “Keshaun’s success in the hurdles is due to his focus on getting better every day. He’s always the last one off the track, taking time each day to get the repetitions he needs to become fluent with each motion. The quickness and fluidity of his hurdling action come from years of focused practice. That’s not to say he’s hurdling 365 days a year. In fact, much of his success in track and field comes from his involvement in other sports. Football has helped him develop the strength and toughness needed to run through hurdle contact. Basketball with all of its jumping and rapid changes of direction has helped him become a more explosive and kinesthetically aware athlete. In the end, the bottom line is that Keshaun’s dedication to daily incremental improvement as an athlete has put him in position to compete for the state title in both the high and 300 hurdles.”
Performance Point: “Nobody really knew this but my coach, but I was sick,” Harris said in recalling the Regional. “I was pushing through it, so I just went out there and ran my best races of the season. I was dealing with the flu. .... Before the race I had to hydrate a lot. My body was a little weak. I had to make sure I got my body moving, got in a good warm-up, stayed loose and warm. I just went out there and gave it everything I’ve got and ran my best.”
Remembering runner-up: “(Last year’s 110 Final) has been in the back of my mind since it happened last year. My goal is still to be the state champion in both the 110 and 300. That’s been the goal since I came to Waverly, since I’ve been a freshman. That’s always been the goal, and always been a motivation too. … Last year I wasn’t as good with my form as I am this year. So this year as I go into this last week, I’m just working on form, getting over hurdles and getting back down quick and keeping everything tight.”
Multi-sport mechanics: “I think (all my sports) work together, because I’m always active doing something. Even in the winter or the summer, I’m always doing something. When track season comes around, I’m already in shape, and I’m already feeling good and strong. (Track has) made me even faster on the court or the field. I’m very elusive. I’m very flexible. So it’s helped me in a lot of areas.”
Looking up, looking ahead: “Aries Merritt, he’s an Olympic champion, and Grant Holloway goes to Florida and he’s another guy I look up to. I also look up to guys I ran against – Kentre Patterson (East Lansing), Noah Caudy (Lake Odessa Lakewood), even Job Mayhue who beat me last year. I still look up to all those guys, figure out what they’re doing and how I can input it into my hurdling. In track, you run against these guys so much. Once they’re gone, you’ve built a relationship with them, so it’s cool.”
Staying in sports: “I just like working with athletes and just being around sports, so I think (trainer) would be the perfect job to do. Actually, at the start of this season I had an ankle injury, I sprained it during my last basketball game, and that had me out for a month. As I worked with the athletic trainer at my school, I developed a love for wanting to become an athletic trainer and wanting to study kinesiology.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard recognizes a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Past 2018-19 honorees
May 16: Gabbie Sherman, Millington softball - Read
May 9: Nathan Taylor, Muskegon Mona Shores golf - Read
May 2: Ally Gaunt, New Baltimore Anchor Bay soccer - Read
April 25: Kali Heivilin, Three Rivers softball - Read
March 28: Rickea Jackson, Detroit Edison basketball - Read
March 21: Noah Wiswary, Hudsonville Unity Christian basketball - Read
March 14: Cam Peel, Spring Lake swimming - Read
March 7: Jordan Hamdan, Hudson wrestling - Read
February 28: Kevon Davenport, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Read
February 21: Reagan Olli, Gaylord skiing - Read
February 14: Jake Stevenson, Traverse City Bay Reps hockey - Read
February 7: Molly Davis, Midland Dow basketball - Read
January 31: Chris DeRocher, Alpena basketball - Read
January 24: Imari Blond, Flint Kearsley bowling - Read
January 17: William Dunn, Quincy basketball - Read
November 29: Dequan Finn, Detroit Martin Luther King football - Read
November 22: Paige Briggs, Lake Orion volleyball - Read
November 15: Hunter Nowak, Morrice football - Read
November 8: Jon Dougherty, Detroit Country Day soccer - Read
November 1: Jordan Stump, Camden-Frontier volleyball - Read
October 25: Danielle Staskowski, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep golf - Read
October 18: Adam Bruce, Gladstone cross country - Read
October 11: Ericka VanderLende, Rockford cross country - Read
October 4: Kobe Clark, Schoolcraft football - Read
September 27: Jonathan Kliewer, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern soccer - Read
September 20: Kiera Lasky, Bronson volleyball - Read
September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Lansing Waverly's Keshaun Harris charges toward the finish during last season's Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final in the 300 hurdles. (Middle) Harris clears a hurdle during the 110 championship race in 2018. (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.)