KINGSFORD — The Bark River-Harris girls made a statement here Saturday while earning the first Upper Peninsula track & field title in their school’s history.
BR-H, which topped the Division 2 standings with 107 points, was followed by West Iron County with 74 and Ishpeming at 60.
“This is a very big moment,” said BR-H coach Jason Lockwood. “This is something our upperclassmen started talking about at the end of last season. Last year we came here with a small team and got third. The bigger numbers this year were a major factor. We’re very strong in the sprints and sprint relays. Having that depth really helps.”
The Broncos won the 800-meter relay in a school-record 1 minute, 50.95 seconds, and freshman Julia Olson set a school record (1:01.25) while placing third in the 400.
Sophomore Mckenzie Hoffmeyer won long jump (16-1¾) for the second-straight year and took second in the 100 (13.04) and 200 (27.14). Senior Alaska Peterson added a third in the long jump (14-5½).
Carley Varoni added a first in pole vault (8-0), and senior Aspen Fredrick gained her first U.P. 300 hurdles title at 53.57.
“I had confidence in my ability to jump over the hurdles,” said Fredrick. “This is only my sixth time doing this and my first individual title. That’s what I was thinking (during the race), and that’s what kept me going.”
West Iron’s Danica Shamion repeated as champion in the 100 (12.7), 200 (26.82) and 400 (58.77), and Ishpeming sophomore Lola Korpi retained her 800 (2:36.11), 1,600 (5:42.11) and 3,200 (12:34.95) titles.
“The 1,600 went well,” she said. “I just wanted to stay in front and get as many points for our team as I could. I tried to work on picking up the pace in the second and third laps.”
In the 3,200 (which combined the D-1 and D-2 runners competing at the same time), Houghton senior Ingrid Seagren led the entire race until the final home stretch when she dropped to third overall.
“I was just planning on staying with the group I was with, and when I saw she was getting tired, I thought there was a chance,” Korpi said. “I’m proud of Ingrid, and our team for taking third place. Third is good, especially for the numbers we have.”
Iron Mountain’s Chloe Maycroft retained her high jump crown (4-11), and Manistique sophomore Danielle Lund took first in shot put (33-2) and second in discus (95-0).
Gwinn’s Lena Pleaugh and Jordana Hardy went 1-2 in the 100 hurdles in 17.77 and 18.18, respectively.
Manistique won the 1,600 relay (4:23.84) and 3,200 (10:43.63).
“Today we had little bit of a rough handoff for three and four, but found a way to overcome that,” said Emeralds junior Kelsey Muth. “We’re just .3 second away from our school record in the 1,600 relay, which I think will give us motivation for next year. This is the first time all year we’ve won both the 1,600 and 3,200 relays. This is a real good way to wrap up the season.”
PHOTOS (Top) On the way to winning the 800 relay, Bark River-Harris's Aspen Frederick hands off to teammate Julia Olson. Other members of the winning relay team were Mckenzie Hoffmeyer and Lauren Zwanda. (Middle) West Iron County's Danica Shamion, middle, wins the 200. Hoffmeyer, left, took second. (Click for more from Cara Kamps/Run Michigan.)
BLISSFIELD – Last fall, June Miller raced for an MHSAA cross country title at Michigan International Speedway. During the winter she played in the Division 3 Basketball Final at the Breslin Center. In the spring, she competed at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 track & field championships in Kent City.
As she embarks on her senior year at Blissfield Community Schools in southeast Michigan, Miller isn’t concerned about an encore.
“I don’t worry about topping my junior season,” she said. “I don’t feel the need to. I’ll fight for it to the best of my ability, but if I don’t make it that’s okay. There were a lot of factors that went into last year, and I can’t control all of them this year.
“I’ll leave my best out there and know that I gave it my all, and in the end that’s the true accomplishment. If it takes me that far or further, then great. If not, that’s okay.”
Miller’s remarkable run to MHSAA Finals in three sports remains even more impressive when considering she had eight goals and five assists playing defense for the Royals soccer team.
“Shows up to work, busts her tail every practice, every game,” said Blissfield girls basketball coach Ryan Gilbert. “Never have to worry about June Miller.”
Miller is as steady an athlete as they come, never getting too high or too low in pressure situations. In basketball, Gilbert said Miller never met a shot she didn’t like. Miller started all 29 games last season, leading the team in 3-pointers.
Gilbert said Miller is even-keeled.
“It takes a while to get into the ‘June Miller circle,’ but I’m almost in,” he said. “This is her senior year; this is my year. She’s very funny when you get to know her and has a brilliant mind.
“She wants to win over everything,” Gilbert said.
Miller wasn’t the fastest runner on the cross country team last fall – that spot would belong to her younger sister, Hope. June has no problem with that.
“I love running with my sister,” she said. “She’s an amazing and incredibly kind person. Her dedication to running inspires me and keeps me fighting for it. We train together sometimes and she’s the one that pushes me, and I love that.
“I always knew she’d be faster than me someday, and I couldn’t be prouder of how fast she’s become and how much she’s achieved. (People might) think I’d hold some resentment for her beating me while I’m older, but she’s lived in my shadow for years and I’m so glad she’s been able to find her place that she can dominate.”
Blissfield is eyeing a big season in cross country after winning a Regional and just missing the top 10 at the Final a year ago. The Miller sisters are a big reason for the giddiness.
“I’m ready to leave it all out there,” Miller said. “It’s my senior season, and I want to go out strong. I think the end goal for all of us is to really push it this season and improve with each race so by the time we hit Regionals we’re in the best shape physically and mentally so we can leave it all on the course to get to states again.”
Because of her work schedule this summer, Miller missed some of the team workouts but was able to get the details from her sister and went out on her own time and trained to build up her mileage in preparation for the season.
“I think the experience from last year will give us something to fight for,” she said. “It allows us to look at the season with our end goal being the state meet. It gives us a passion and something to fight for.”
Blissfield cross country coach Ryan Bills called Miller a strong competitor.
“She is fun kid,” he said. “You never know which June you’re going to get – funny, chatty June or serious, no-nonsense June. Either way she always gives it her all during competition, which is why she has seen so much success the past year.”
The four-sport athlete spent the first couple of weeks of summer refreshing her body before kicking it into high gear.
She did take some time to reflect on all the places she got to play and compete last year and is grateful to be part of a team that helped her reach those places.
“It was a unique experience,” she said. “When I’m playing basketball or running track and cross country, I’m not focused on where I am physically – instead I’m in my head focused on what I need to do.
“Once you get to someplace, you stop thinking about getting there and you move on to the next step of being there and doing what you need to there.”
Miller is one of the top students in her class. She’s currently trying to decide whether she wants to pursue playing soccer in college. She wants to major in business and minor in sustainability, eventually getting a master’s degree in architecture.
“I want to be a sustainable design architect,” she said, “who can better the world through the art of architecture.”
Miller’s future looks bright, as does the outlook for this athletic year. In all three sports for which she reached the Finals last year, the Royals have enough returning talent to make lengthy runs again.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Miller said, about four days before the first cross country event of the season. “I want to make it to all those state tournaments again, but I want to do it with my teammates because they’re the ones that make it memorable and something to remember forever.”
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 Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Blissfield’s June Miller (750) races during a cross country meet last fall. (Middle) Miller pulls up for a jumper during last season’s basketball postseason run. (Cross country photo by Deloris Clark-Osborne; basketball photo by Gary Sullivan.)