#TBT: Inkala Celebrated as Athlete, Coach

June 25, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The mid-Michigan and statewide tennis communities are mourning the death last weekend of longtime Okemos girls coach Al Inkala, who led the Chieftains to four MHSAA championships over a 20-season tenure that ended in 2013. He was 66 years old.

From 1994-2004, his Okemos girls tennis teams finished either first or second at their MHSAA Finals all but 1996, and his 1998-2001 teams won four straight Division 2 titles. But those were his only final chapters to a high school career that began as one of the most accomplished athletes of his time from the Upper Peninsula, where he played football, basketball, tennis, baseball and ran track for Wakefield before graduating in 1967.

A 6-foot-5 center, Inkala was a Class C all-state basketball selection as a senior, leading the Cardinals to the MHSAA Class C Semifinals with 33 points in an 85-60 Quarterfinal win over Gaylord. A three-year varsity basketball player, Inkala scored a school-record 540 points as a senior and a school-record 1,160 for his career. He also scored a school-record 42 points against Baraga during the 1966-67 season as Wakefield strung together its first undefeated regular-season finish. Inkala was second in his league in scoring after finishing first as a junior and made the all-U.P. Class C team after both of those seasons.

Inkala also was selected for the top senior basketball award for the Michigan-Wisconsin Conference by the largest margin ever accorded for the award to that point, and based not only on his athletic proficiency but also good sportsmanship.

His prowess extended far beyond the basketball court. In tennis, Inkala was undefeated at singles as a senior until his second match of the U.P. Finals – in those days, there was only one division in the Upper Peninsula, and only one flight for singles and one for doubles at all MHSAA Finals – as he led Wakefield to a fifth-place team finish. He was the singles champion in the Michigan-Wisconsin Conference.

Inkala ran four events – the 220-yard dash, 120-yard high hurdles and half-mile and mile relays – in helping Wakefield to its Regional track &field title in 1967. Wakefield then finished second as a team at the U.P. Class C Final, with Inkala taking fifth in the high hurdles.

As noted above, Inkala also played baseball and football; on the football team, he played both offense and defense and was the punter. Inkala also served as his class president, sung in the school chorus and was part of the conservation club at Wakefield High, about a 20-minute drive from the Wisconsin border. 

He went on to play basketball at Northern Michigan University, serving as a team captain as a senior in 1970-71. He led the team in rebounding that winter and sits 30th on NMU’s single-season rebounding list and 12th on the career list, having played in 90 games over his four seasons.

On a personal note, Inkala was a huge help to me covering mid-Michigan girls tennis while at the Lansing State Journal from 1999-2011. He was the best of coaches when it came to being honest about his players’ abilities and making sure those from other schools got deserved recognition as well – especially during a period when his teams’ No. 5 singles and doubles players could’ve played the top flights for nearly every school in the surrounding area and likely beyond.

The stories heard around our office this week focused on how he worked to give Okemos’ opponents the best experiences possible when facing his incredibly-talented teams. 

Against those with just enough players to fill a lineup, or teams with most athletes in perhaps only their first few seasons of play, he’d fill his lineup with players who otherwise didn’t see the court when Okemos faced others of the state’s elite. The Chieftains shared their equipment and knowledge with many opponents, providing humble leadership in a tennis community that embodied a coach who gave the same always from the background and with little fanfare despite deserving much. 

The Lansing State Journal talked to a number of his area counterparts this week; click here for that report.

Inkala died June 20. A memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Sunday at Okemos Community Church.

PHOTOS: (Top) Al Inkala, far left, accepts with his teammates the Class C District championship trophy during the 1967 season. (Middle) Inkala launches a free throw during the title game against Ontonagon. (Below) Inkala led his Okemos girls tennis teams to six MHSAA championships. (Top photos courtesy of the Ironwood Daily Globe; bottom courtesy of the Lansing State Journal.)

Clarkston's Loyer Leaves All-Time Legacy with 25 Record Book Listings

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

September 22, 2023

Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.

Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).

Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.

See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.

Boys Basketball

Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.

Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.

Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.

Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.

A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.

Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.

Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.

Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.

Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.

Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).

Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.

Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.

Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.

Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.

Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.

Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.

New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.

Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.

Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.

Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.

Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.

PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.