Schmitz Makes Most of Many Opportunities

January 12, 2018

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

MORENCI – When Madysen Schmitz was a freshman in high school, she told Morenci athletic director Kay Johnson she was going to earn 16 varsity letters with the Bulldogs.

Schmitz was wrong. If all goes as planned, she’ll earn 18.

“I’m used to being involved,” Schmitz said.

Her to-do calendar leaves little time for anything else.

A senior, Schmitz has never played a sport at the junior varsity level. She already has completed four years of varsity volleyball and this past fall was part of Morenci’s club equestrian team. This winter, she is not only one of the top scorers in Lenawee County in basketball, she’s a member of the competitive cheerleading team. Later this year she plans to be a dual-sport athlete for the fourth straight spring, playing softball and competing as part of the Bulldogs track & field squad. She also has been a sideline cheerleader for Morenci.

“Mady is naturally talented,” Johnson said. “She is fast and jumps so well. She’s been doing all of the cheer moves for some time now. She’s just very athletic.”

Morenci allows athletes to compete in multiple sports during one season as long as they abide by the guidelines set forth by the district. One of those rules is to pick a predominate sport that takes precedent in any season. Last spring, for example, it was track & field instead of softball. Schmitz qualified for the MHSAA Finals in the long jump. After the event was over, she drove back to southeast Michigan to play in a Division 4 District Final for the softball team.

“My coaches work with me and around my schedule,” Schmitz said. “If they know I have basketball practice after school, we’ll have cheer practice in the morning. Or, if there is a game one night, we won’t have practice in another sport that day. They work with me.”

Johnson, who is also the Morenci softball coach, said the district supports dual-sport athletes.

“We allow it, but not many athletes do it,” Johnson said. “It’s tough to compete in multiple sports at the same time. With our enrollment (just more than 100 girls at last count), if we have an athlete that wants to do two sports, we’ll let them.”

Schmitz helped Morenci’s softball team into the MHSAA Semifinals as a sophomore. She’s an outfielder who covers a lot of ground because of her speed.

Success is nothing new to Schmitz, who moved from Evergreen Schools in Ohio to Morenci before her freshman year. She’s leaving quite a legacy on the ultra-successful Morenci athletic program. She’s received numerous honors from the Tri-County Conference, was second team all-county in basketball last season and enters Friday’s home game against co-TCC basketball leader Ottawa Lake Whiteford with 987 career points. The only other Morenci girl to reach 1,000 career points is Kylene Spiegel, now in her first season as head women’s basketball coach at Lawrence Tech.

The Bulldogs have won 13 games each of the past two seasons and are off to a 7-2 start heading into the game with Whiteford. Larry Bruce is in his fourth year as the head varsity girls basketball coach after a long and successful run as the Bulldogs boys coach in the 1970s and 1980s. Bruce had a heart attack in July and, while still going through regular rehabilitation exercises, is back on the bench.

“I had four bypasses in August,” he said. “I’m good now. I work out a couple days a week. I feel normal.”

His return to the basketball court, he said, was never in doubt.

“Some other people may have doubted it, but I didn’t,” the veteran coach said.

The Bulldogs won four straight TCC basketball titles from 1985 to 1988 and four more from 2001-2004, but none since. They are trying to end Adrian Madison’s six-year reign at the top of the league. Whiteford and Morenci are both 5-0 in league play entering tonight.

“He’s awesome,” Schmitz said of Bruce. “He helps us a lot. We have really good team chemistry this year. We are all happy he is back.”

This season, Schmitz was sluggish to start the season while shaking off some effects of an ankle injury suffered in volleyball. But, after scoring 34 points against Clinton, 28 against Reading and 23 against Pittsford, her game appears to be back on track.

“She’s a durable kid,” Bruce said. “She’s jumps so high and is so fast. It’s kind of scary when she goes up in traffic to get a rebound. She’s always flying down the floor. She goes all out. That’s the only way she knows. She’s been that way since she was a freshman.”

Bruce recalls the time Schmitz was injured and did have to miss a couple of games.

“She’s left-handed,” he said. “She had her left arm in a sling, but was in the gym at night, shooting with her right hand. That is when she was a freshman. She wanted to get better shooting with her right hand. She’s worked pretty hard at the game.”

Schmitz isn’t the only high scorer on the Bulldogs’ roster. Junior Daelyn Merillat has more than 800 career points.

Bruce supports Schmitz’s choice to play multiple sports.

“It really hasn’t been an issue,” he said. “There was one night where she missed a practice because she had a cheerleading event. It wasn’t a big deal. The coaches work with her.”

In addition to her athletic ability, she also gets it done in the classroom. Schmitz is a National Honor Society student with a cumulative 3.49 grade-point average.

"There are definitely some late nights just trying to keep up with it all," Schmitz said. "You just have to manage your time and stay on top of everything. I'm used to it though. I've been this way my whole life. It's all worth it. I love sports.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTO: (Top) Morenci’s Madysen Schmitz looks for an opportunity on offense against Pittsford on Jan. 3. (Middle) Schmitz goes hard to the basket during the 68-56 loss, one of only two defeats this season for the Bulldogs. (Photos by Mike Dickie.)

Team of the Month: Croswell-Lexington Competitive Cheer

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 14, 2023

The Croswell-Lexington competitive cheer team had finished fourth, fifth and fourth, respectively over the last three Division 3 Finals as this season began in November with more high expectations – but also the annual challenge of believing those could be attained.

Competing in the same Blue Water Area Conference as Richmond, the Pioneers are more familiar than most with the program that entered the season coming off a fourth-straight Division 3 title. And as a regular at Finals weekend, Cros-Lex also is plenty aware of the power of Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, the only other team besides Richmond to win a Division 3 championship between 2012-22.

But during the Pioneers’ first competition this winter, coach Katie Tomlinson knew this could be the team to rise above that history and make some of its own.

Cros-Lex finished fifth of 18 at the Jan. 6 Richmond Invitational, but second in Division 3 to only the host Blue Devils, and with scores including a D3-best 309.30 in Round 3.

“For our first competition, (we had) some of our best scores we’ve ever received – and typically our first competition is really tough for us. So that was kind of a turning point,” Tomlinson said. “Just the confidence they had that first night, competing for the first time, it was just a shift.”

That shift provided early momentum as Cros-Lex made one of the most impressive championship moves in any winter sport this season.

The Pioneers are the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for March after finishing their season as MHSAA Finals champions in the sport for the first time, overcoming a 1.24-point deficit to Richmond after Round 2 to win the Division 3 title at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena.

Croswell-Lexington finished with three-round score of 776.72, seven-tenths of a point better than runner-up Notre Dame Prep and with nearly two points more than the Blue Devils. The Pioneers launched into the lead with a 314.50 in Round 3, the second-best score for that round in the competition.

“I think that it was such a shock for them in the moment and so exciting and rewarding,” Tomlinson recalled this week, “but it definitely was the work put in, just like every other team, and believing in themselves and just going out there and doing what we always do and what we’d worked hard for and what we’d put in that time and effort for – and just watching it pay off. It was kind of a mix of just really believing in ourselves – it’s been a challenge for a few years now building up that confidence to know that they are a team that’s worthy of a state championship and then proving that. They earned it.”

And it was truly a team effort. Cros-Lex had 28 athletes, and only one of the other 31 teams across four divisions at the Finals – Division 1 Grandville with 30 – had more on the roster. Of those 28, 22 competed in at least one round at CMU. Juniors Alexis Bales, Cora Katulski, Shelby Oliver and Makayla Rice and sophomore Carly Old competed in all three rounds, while seniors Noelle Golda, Santanna Horning and Emma Six and sophomores Larkin Krohn, Niah Krohn, Kaleigh Kelch and Addyson Sharpe competed in two rounds. Seniors Cassidy Seaman, Deborahann White, Maria Tabernero and Alleyna Martinez; junior Grace Hodges, sophomores Emma Yearkey, Madison Greenaway, Maggie Wallace and Addison Gardner; and freshman Chelsea Miller also took the mat.

Oliver, Katulski, Rice, Bales, Old and Kelch made the all-state first team. Wallace, Hodges and Sharpe made the second team, and Six, Horning and Golda earned honorable mentions.

Cros-Lex had finished second to Richmond in the BWAC and second to Notre Dame Prep at their District before finishing third to both at the Regional. The Pioneers had never finished higher than fourth at a Final.

“We are up against (Richmond) quite a bit and I’m super close with Kelli (Blue Devils coach Kelli Matthes) … and honestly, we enjoy going to the competitions that have those teams that have won on that stage,” said Tomlinson, who has been part of the Pioneers cheer program since seventh grade beginning as an athlete and including the last eight seasons as head coach. “It sure pushes us further to be better and keep improving instead of staying satisfactory.

“It does make it hard when you’re up against such powers for years where they take it every single year. It makes the girls second-guess themselves and their capabilities, so that was a big thing that we started back in June for sideline and tried since to implement every day – the confidence and the belief in ourselves that even though they’re great, we are too.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2022-23

February: Hart girls & boys basketball - Report
Taylor Trillium Academy girls bowling - Report
Byron Center hockey - Report
Martin football - Report
Gladwin volleyball - Report
Negaunee girls tennis - Report