Bark River-Harris Grows Team, Gains 1st Girls Track & Field Finals Title

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 5, 2022

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).

West Iron County trackCarley 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.”

Click for full results.

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.)

Finals Title Next Step for Versatile Swan Valley Record-Breaker Kuhn

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

May 22, 2024

Sydney Kuhn’s habit for smashing school records at Saginaw Swan Valley has forced the track & field program to start taking cost-cutting measures.

Bay & Thumb“We stopped changing out the records on our record board,” Swan Valley coach Dave Dawson said. “We just figured she has another year and she’ll break it again, so we figured we’re going to save money this way.”

Kuhn, a junior, owns the school records in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters. She also has the program record in 60 meters, an indoor track event. She’s run the school’s second-fastest 300 hurdles time, and one of the top five 100-meter times. The 1,600-meter relay team she’s part of with Mackenzie Morgan, Grace Spear and Mackenzie Powell is close to setting a record, as well, and has qualified for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals on June 1.

“Her ninth-grade year, everybody knew, depending on what happens and her attitude, they knew she could be something special. There was potential there,” Dawson said. “Lauren Huebner, she graduated in 2016 and went to SVSU and was a two-time Division II national champion, she had eight records on the board. Sydney feeds off that. Especially now that Lauren is helping coach, she’s definitely been pivotal in this.”

Kuhn qualified for the Finals in the three events she ran at last week’s Regional: the 200, 400 and 1,600 relay. She will be the No. 1 seed in the 400, and has run the fastest time in the state regardless of division, at 55.11 seconds. She’s the No. 2 seed in the 200, where her personal best of 24.89 is the fifth-fastest time in the state this year, regardless of division. She finished third and sixth, respectively, at the Finals in the events a year ago.

“I feel good,” Kuhn said. “I’m just getting ready. It’s been a good year, it’s been going smoothly. The 400 looks pretty good, and the 200 there will be some good competition. Freshman year, I got fifth, then third (as a sophomore) in the 400, so hopefully this year is first.”

She did not run the 800 at the Regional, as it was decided it was too close in the meet order to her other events. She’s run 2:12.75 in the event, the fourth-fastest time recorded in the state this season.

That could be where she has the most potential, however, as it’s a race she had never run competitively until her sophomore season. The first time she ran it in a varsity meet, she recorded a 2:21, setting the school record.

Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth.“(Coach) Andrew Wendler put a bug in her ear, ‘If you’re running this fast in the 400, think of what your 800 would be,’” Dawson said. “She says, ‘Yeah, I’ll try it.’ So, in one of our first conference meets, she ran against a girl that’s pretty good in the 800 and we just said to follow her – stick with her and see what you can do. With 200 meters left, she just took off and broke the school record the first time she ran it.”

A year later, they tried the same thing with the 1,600. And again, Kuhn responded by running 5:12.73 in her first try, setting the school record. She’s since run 5:06.45.

“The first time I ran the 800, I ran against Mary Richmond from Frankenmuth who is really fast, and I sort of paced behind her the first 400, then the last 300 I took off. Same thing with the 1,600. I felt like staying behind her, I wasn’t really racing, so I could just go, I thought.”

Richmond is a three-time all-state finisher in both the 1,600 and the 3,200, as well as a four-time all-state cross country runner. 

With Kuhn’s instant success in every race she’s tried, the logical next question is, what about the 3,200?

“My coach mentioned that,” Kuhn said with a laugh. “But I usually just shake my head. You never know.”

There is a real question, however, about what event, or events, Kuhn is best suited for moving forward. She said that she would like to shift some focus to the 800 for her senior year, and several college coaches who have been in contact with her have indicated that’s where she could land.

“The pattern typically is they would probably turn her into a half-miler or a miler,” Dawson said. “Some college coaches want her for the heptathlon with her hurdle experience, and she is not a stranger to the weight room. That’s the fun part about this, she tries something and it’s usually pretty fun. It’s usually a positive experience.”

Kuhn is ready for whatever is thrown at her.

“They’re mostly like 800, 1,500, those types of races,” she said. “Some of them just say whatever you like best. One coach mentioned the steeplechase – I don’t know about that. One coach did mention (heptathlon). I’d be open to whatever is best.”

While she’s taken some unofficial visits, she said she’s in no hurry to choose a college. Her focus remains on winning a Finals title at Swan Valley, and a series of times she’s set as goals for herself: 24.4, 54.9, 2:09.9, 4:59.9.

They’re all saved on her phone screen, where they’re easy to change as she reaches them. And at no cost.

“Every time I look at my phone, I see the times I want to get,” she said. “I’ve changed my screen saver a lot when I do break it.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Saginaw Swan Valley’s Sydney Kuhn runs toward the finish during the Korf/Schultz Saginaw County Invitational on May 10 at Hemlock. (Middle) Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth. (Photos by Eagle Eye Photography.)