Ishpeming Finds Right Combination in D2

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 5, 2016

KINGSFORD — The Ishpeming girls carried a heavy workload this season and were rewarded with their second straight Division 2 title at Saturday’s Upper Peninsula Finals.

Ishpeming scored 127 points, followed by Hancock with 104 and St. Ignace 81.

“The girls got more points than I thought they would,” said Ishpeming coach P.J. Pruett. “When we started the season in the (Superior) Dome meet, we got beat by West Iron County and Hancock. We were able to put kids in the right spots, which was huge. We didn’t have a lot of girls come out for track. Most of them were doing four events.”

Junior Khora Swanson retained her 800-meter title in 2 minutes, 34.15 seconds and won the 1,600 (6:02.99) and 3,200 (13:21.21). She also helped the Hematites take the 3,200 relay (11:09.24).

“The weather was kind of tough early in the meet, and it effected my breathing,” Swanson said. “Although it’s the same for everybody. I think running with the D-1 kids (in the 1,600 and 3,200; both divisions ran together) may have thrown me off a little.

“We’re excited about being U.P. champions again. We’ve all been working hard. St. Ignace kind of hung with us in the Regional. We’re always worried about them.”

Hancock’s Madisyn Wright was runner-up in the 1,600 (6:08.81) and 3,200 (13:33.96).

“Khora used to anchor our 1,600 relay, then we moved her to the (open) 3,200 for points,” said Pruett. “This was the second two-mile race she ran all year.”

Ishpeming junior Marissa Maino repeated as champion in discus with a school-record toss of 115 feet, 5 inches and shot put at 35 feet. Teammate Libbie Doney won pole vault for the second time in three years with a leap of 8-6.

The Hematites also won the 400 relay (55.64) and took second in the 800 (1:55.8) and 1,600 (4:33.59).

Hancock senior Mary Jarvis defended her crowns in the 100 hurdles (16.74) and 300s (48.85) and helped the winning 800 relay (1:54.89). Teammate Julie Heinonen was runner-up in the 100s (16.97).

St. Ignace sophomore Linnee Gustafson was a repeat winner in high jump (5-0, she won Division 3 last season) and helped the Saints take third in the 800 relay (2:00.24).

The Saints captured the 1,600 relay in a season-best 4:27.18.

“All of our handoffs were good,” said freshman Emily Coveyou, who placed second in the 400 (1:04.75) and third in the 200 (27.97). “We’re just happy we won the last race. Unfortunately, I false started in the 100. But this kind of takes the sting out of that.”

Gwinn sophomore Emlly McDonald set the U.P. meet record in long jump (16-10), topping the previous best (16-8¼) by Dani Gagne of Norway in 2011.

West Iron County had a triple-winner in junior Emmy Kinner, who captured the 400 (1:02.76) for the third consecutive year, retained her 100 (13.33) and 200 (27.53) titles and placed third in long jump (15-3).

“The girl from Gwinn is good,” Kinner said. “She really gets high in the air. After taking third in long jump, taking first in my other three events was nice. My starts weren’t bad, but your legs aren’t as loose when you run in the rain. It takes longer to get warmed up.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ishpeming’s Khora Swanson carries the baton during the 3,200 relay. (Middle) The Hematites’ Anna Terres stretches across the finish at the end of the 400 relay. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)

Blissfield's Miller Set for Senior Success After 3 Junior-Year Finals Trips

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

August 15, 2023

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. 

Southeast & BorderAs 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.” 

Miller pulls up for a jumper during last season’s basketball postseason run.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 DonnellyDoug 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.)