Hematites Climb Back to 1st in UPD2

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

May 31, 2015

KINGSFORD — It was bit of a challenge at times, but the Ishpeming girls captured their first MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 2 track and field title in eight years Saturday by scoring 151 points.

Iron River West Iron County was runner-up for the second straight second with 126, followed by Manistique at 59.

Ishpeming’s Khora Swanson won the 800-meter run in two minutes, 28.53 seconds and took second in the 1,600 (5:45.62) on this partly sunny and breezy day.

Hematites senior Jessica Spencer was runner-up in the 100 hurdles at 17.97, edging teammate Katie Loman by one hundredth of a second. She also took third in the 300 (53.15) and helped the winning 400 and 800 relays.

“We worked on handoffs a lot in practice and those were a key for us,” said Spencer, who will attend Northern Michigan University this fall. “We just focused on doing the best we could, and our team showed its true potential. I’ve been to the Finals all four years, and this was the best. The energy was contagious.

“Everybody just supported each other. This is a great way to end my senior year.”

Ishpeming’s Marissa Maino swept the weight events with tosses of 35 feet, one inch in shot put and 109-4 in discus. Nassi Thomas added a first in long jump (14-10½) and seconds in the 100 (13.4) and 200 (27.5).

The Hematites also won the 3,200 relay, with West Iron taking the 1,600.

West Iron took the top three spots in the 400, which was won by Emmy Kinner (1:02.18). She was followed by Elizabeth Pellizzer (1:04.01) and Erin Angeli (1:05.22).

Kinner also finished first in the 100 (13.19) and 200 (27.16).

West Iron senior Tori Harris placed second in the 800 in a school-record 2:28.77 and the 3,200 (12:42.27) and placed third in the 1,600 (5:50.29).

“I was not happy with the 1,600, but felt better during the 800,” Harris said. “The 800 is my favorite race, and I’m very pleased to get the school record. I started weight training, and I think it helps a lot.”

Keeley Nolingberg provided the Wykons with a second in shot put (30-7¾), with Rachel Tefft third (29-6½). Pellizzer added a third in the 200 (28.53).

Westwood junior Katie Etelamaki won the 1,600 (5:32.91) and 3,200 (12:02.45) and placed third in the 800 in a personal-best (2:29.54).

“I’m not quite where I want to be,” Etelamaki said. “I just tried to find someone to draft off of and had enough left to kick it in at the end. We haven’t had many windy meets this year, but the temperature is pretty good (mid 50s). I really can’t complain about the weather.”

Manistique made its strongest showing in pole vault, which was won my Katie Davis at eight feet. Josie Price was runner-up (7-6) and Brittney Zellar took fourth (7-0).

Hancock’s Mary Jarvis was a double-winner, taking the 100 hurdles (16.76) and 300 (49.21).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ishpeming's Jessica Spencer crosses the finish line during one of her four events Saturday at the U.P. Division 2 Final. (Middle) The Hematites' Khora Swanson, right, works to stay ahead of West Iron County's Tori Harris; the two raced each other in the 800 and 1,600. (Photos courtesy of Cara Kamps.)

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

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)