Fowler Girls Award 1st-Year Coach with Program's 1st Finals Title since 2019

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

June 2, 2024

HUDSONVILLE — Sometimes it actually isn’t so hard to replace a legend. Just ask Fowler girls track & field coach Neil Hufnagel.

After last year, Hufnagel took over for longtime Fowler coach Jill Feldpausch, who built the program into a dynasty.

Feldpausch led Fowler to five MHSAA Finals titles from 2011 to 2019, but there was no need for anyone to feel sorry for Hufnagel going into this year.

On the contrary, it might have been the track & field version of inheriting a Fort Knox-sized gold mine. 

“She left the cupboards absolutely packed,” he said. 

That was evident during the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals on Saturday at Baldwin Middle School, where Fowler reigned supreme again with a dominant performance.

Fowler finished with 70.5 points, well ahead of the 44 collected by runner-up Portland St. Patrick. 

Fowler had only one first-place event finish, and that was in the last one, taking first in the 1,600 relay in a time of 4:08.44.

But that didn’t end up mattering as Fowler used its depth to score points. 

The Eagles, who finished fourth last year, snapped a mini drought by their standards. 

“We talked a little bit about being workmanlike,” Hufnagel said. “We know that it doesn’t take first places to finish first in the state. We had some good team depth, and we were able to use that.” 

Addison's Molly Brown, right, finishes her 100 hurdles championship win.Saugatuck was third with 34 points. 

There were several individual standouts who flanked Fowler’s team victory. 

Buckley senior Aiden Harrand, who will run next for Wake Forest, won the 1,600 in a time of 4:53.25 and the 400 in a time of 58.25. Harrand also finished second in the 800. 

Between cross country and track, Harrand finished her high school career with 10 Finals championships and showed impressive versatility.

“It’s hard for sure,” Harrand said. “I do a lot of distance training. I have to because I have to be prepared for that mile. I think the speed comes naturally. I do a lot of speed workouts and stuff. But you’ve got to train distance.” 

Another individual standout was Addison junior Molly Brown. She repeated in the 100 hurdles in a time of 15.22, and then won the 300 hurdles in a time of 45.07. 

Brown was second in the 300 hurdles last year, and she obviously was thrilled to build on that defeat and set up what should be a big senior year in 2025. 

“I knew the girl that beat me last year graduated, but I knew that coming in this year, I was going to have to run a really good time to win,” Brown said. “I just really wanted to win.” 

In the field events, Marlette senior Olivia Findlay shined the brightest, winning the long jump with a distance of 17-feet, 4½ inches and the high jump in 5 feet, 5 inches.

Other champions included Unionville-Sebewaing sophomore Layla Bolzman in the 100 and 200, Johannesburg-Lewiston junior Allie Nowak in the 800, Whitmore Lake freshman Kaylie Livingston in the 3,200, Chesterfield Austin Catholic senior Lyla Mullins in the shot put and discus and Mason County Eastern junior Payton Haynes in the pole vault. Frankfort (400), Portland St. Patrick (800) and Whitmore Lake (3,200) also won relays. Athens junior Aleyah Deller won the adaptive 100, 200 and shot put events.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Fowler's Katie Spicer crosses the finish line during a sprint Saturday. (Middle) Addison's Molly Brown, right, finishes her 100 hurdles championship win. (Click for more from Ken Swart/

Performance of the Week: Onsted's Emmry Ross

June 6, 2024

Emmry Ross headshotEmmry Ross ♦ Onsted
Junior ♦ Track & Field

Ross became just the third girl in Lower Peninsula history – and one of eight statewide – to win four individual events at an MHSAA Track & Field Finals, as she finished first in the 400 (56.25), 800 (2:10.74), 1,600 (4:57.81) and 3,200 (10:55.27) on Saturday at the LP Division 3 championship meet at Kent City. She was the only member of her team to qualify for the Finals, but her 40 points earned in those races placed Onsted second in the team standings.

Her 400 time was a season-best, and her 800 and 3,200 times were personal records – which is saying even more considering she also won the 400 and 800 as a sophomore and the 400 (and ran on the winning 1,600 relay) as a freshman in 2022. Ross also runs cross country and finished fifth at the LPD3 Final this past fall.

@mhsaasports 🏃‍♀️‍➡️POW: Emmry Ross #trackandfield #onsted #letsgo #champion #running #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🏃‍♀️‍➡️POW: Emmry Ross #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #nerdgummyclusters #culvers #austinandally #friends #emoji #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

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Past 2023-24 Honorees

May 31: Isaac Sturgess, Flint Powers Catholic baseball - Report
May 30:
Abby Russell, Allen Park track & field - Report 
May 23:
Isabel Thelen, St. Johns tennis - Report
May 16:
Ally Katinas, Novi lacrosse - Report
May 9:
Peter Roehl, Rochester Adams golf - Report
May 2:
Lilah Smith, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Report
April 25:
Mason Mayne, Lawton track & field - Report
April 18:
Alli Wright, Jenison softball - Report
April 11:
Chloe Wishart, Trenton soccer - Report
March 28:
Jenna Maki, Ishpeming basketball - Report
March 22:
Jaremiah Palmer, Niles Brandywine basketball - Report
March 15:
Leah Hodge, North Farmington gymnastics - Report
March 8:
Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Report
March 1:
Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Photo by Jamie McNinch/