High 5s: 6/5/12

June 5, 2012

Each week, Second Half gives "High 5s" to athletes and a team based on their accomplishments the previous week or throughout the season.

A four-time track champion and a longtime state tennis power once again at the top make up this week's list of high achievers.

Sami Michell
Reed City senior
Girls Track and Field

Michell became the first Lower Peninsula four-time champion at an MHSAA Girls Track and Field Final since 1979 when she won the long jump, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 200 on Saturday at the Division 3 meet at Comstock Park. Her time of 42.4 in the 300 hurdles broke the all-Finals record that had stood since 1984, and she also set Division 3 Final records in the long jump (18-6.5) and 100 hurdles (13.84) – breaking the record she previously held in the latter. Total, Michell has won eight MHSAA championships during her three-year high school career. She’s also a setter on the volleyball team and the top-ranked student in her class with a 4.0 grade-point average. Her mother Vikki is the coach of Reed City’s girls track and field team, and her father Brent coaches the boys team.

Fantastic 4: “I wanted to win four; I thought about it, but it was kinda crazy when I actually did it. Really, after I crossed the finish line in the 200, I was pretty happy then. Definitely 200 (was the hardest). It was the last one, and I wasn’t seeded first in that one.”

I learned the most about running from: “Both my parents. They both help me in different ways. It’s pretty cool, but it’s hard sometimes. Sometimes listening to them is harder because I think they don’t know what they’re talking about when they do. But just because they’re my parents it’s harder to listen.”

Up next: All I really know is I’m running track someplace. I have no idea where I want to go. A couple of schools down south really seem interested (including Clemson, plus Michigan State closer to home). Stanford seems interested.”

Fun with numbers: “I’m thinking (I’ll study) accounting. I’m kind of a perfectionist. I like the math part of it.”

Air Michell: Despite standing only 5-foot-8, Michell has a vertical jump of nearly 30 inches and just misses being able to touch the basketball rim. “But I can touch the part connected to the backboard. That would be pretty sweet.”

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Birmingham Seaholm tennis

Birmingham Seaholm won only one individual flight, but also had three runners-up in edging Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern 27-25 at the top of the Division 2 Final standings Saturday. The Maples won their first MHSAA team championship since 2004, and ended FHN's six-season streak of shared or outright titles. Seaholm had finished runner-up to the Huskies in 2011.

Jackie Meier and Rachel Wilson won what ended up being the deciding match by downing the pair from Forest Hills Northern in the final at No. 3 doubles. Seaholm also gained valuable points by placing seven flights in at least the semifinals.

This spring's previous honorees

Team of the Month: Negaunee Girls Tennis

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

October 21, 2022

The Negaunee girls tennis team’s Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals championship won Sept. 28 was its seventh over the last 10 seasons, to go with runner-up finishes the three seasons the Miners didn’t win it all during that time. 

So when coach Kyle Saari says this year’s team stands out among them, that’s actually saying quite a lot.

And what all of it says about his program is pretty defining as well. 

Negaunee is the fifth-biggest tennis school in the Upper Peninsula, but with an enrollment count of 414 has about 700 fewer students than Marquette and even about 235 fewer than the second-biggest tennis school, Escanaba.

And yet, the program may be on its way to getting even stronger coming off this season’s championship, won with 19 points and flight championships at Nos. 3 and 4 singles and Nos. 2 and 3 doubles and earning Negaunee tennis the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” honor for September. 

“We’ve been fortunate, really beyond the (last) decade, to just get solid groups of athletes out that want to compete. I think what happened, on the girls side anyway, is when we won our first Division 1 title in 2012, the next group that comes in wants to leave their mark and wants to do a little more,” Saari said. “When you have a solid group of leaders throughout the course of the last decade, it’s contagious with the freshmen and even trickles down to the middle school too.”

That might sound like an understatement given the success of the middle school tennis program last year, it’s first. More than 100 students attended, and the middle school has only about 450-500. The tennis program was for only sixth, seventh and eighth graders – so it’s fair to put an estimate at roughly 25 percent of the community’s middle schoolers had a racket in their hands.

They have plenty of standouts to look up to, as both Finals singles champions were freshmen and both doubles pairs finished the fall undefeated. Together, those six players are among 10 total starters who should be back next season. Negaunee will graduate only No. 1 singles Jordan Enright and No. 1 doubles Stella Harris.

Harris and sophomore Madison Frustaglio finished runner-up at the Final, and with No. 2 champs Olivia Lunseth and Sage Juntti and No. 3 winners Kallen Schultz and Madalynn Peters gave the Miners a comfortable predicament in August as Saari believed all six were capable of playing the No. 1 flight. As they powered to titles, Paytin Brunette and Autumn Ring finished out the strong doubles lineup with a runner-up Finals finish at No. 4. 

On the singles side, the freshmen pair of Rheana Nelson at No. 3 and Lilliana Saunders at No. 4 anchored like veterans, joining No. 2 singles runner-up Aubrey Johnson and Enright at the top as all eight flights scored at least one point at the championship tournament. 

Negaunee finished 13-0-1 in dual matches this fall, that lone tie coming midway through the season against more experienced Iron Mountain. The Mountaineers were on the cusp of victory when Nelson stepped in to seize the tie-saving point. 

She and Saunders, because of their inexperience, carried some uncertainty entering this season. They also ended up major reasons why this championship team will continue to stick out among the many the program has celebrated.  

“We felt pretty good about two freshmen stepping into our singles lineup. We knew they were athletic, and we knew they were high-character kids,” Saari said. “But at the same time, under pressure at the end of the year, you don’t know how they’re going to react. 

“Those are two (singles) titles, as time has really went on, it’s put into perspective how special those two flights were for us.”