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.)

Elk Rapids' Schulte Sisters Splitting Finals Weekend Between Tennis, Track

By Tom Spencer
Special for

June 2, 2023

Today began with a bye for Elk Rapids’ Jaida and Brynne Schulte as the Elks returned to the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Girls Tennis Finals in Kalamazoo.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThey’re planning to say bye to their tennis teammates, though, when the first day of competition is over. The Elks will have to advance to Saturday without them.

That goodbye is just fine with tennis coach Keith Schulte. And, it will be more than fine with the Elk Rapids track & field team – which will be happy to say hello to the sister pair as they head to their LPD3 Finals in Kent City.

Regardless of how they fare today, the Schulte sisters will run Saturday.

Coach Schulte, who teaches strength and conditioning at Elk Rapids, is also the father of Jaida and Brynne. Today’s he’s beaming with pride, and not just for his tennis team’s success. He’s proud of all the student-athletes and their successes this spring, including the girls soccer team moving on to Regionals with a 2-0 win Thursday over Boyne City.

And while all this is going on, he should have a moment or two to just be Dad. Jaida and Brynne teamed up to win the No. 2 doubles title at their Regional as the Elks tied for first place with Traverse City St. Francis two weeks ago. Then the Schulte girls captured first place in the Regional track meet to qualify for Saturday’s Finals. Brynne won the 1,600 and 3,200, and Jaida’s 3,200 relay team took first to move on.

Brynne Schulte sets to start a track relay. Coach Schulte hasn’t had much time to pause and soak in the moment of his daughters’ qualifying for two Finals competitions during the same season.

“I didn’t think much of it until now,” the fourth-year coach said. “I’ve always just challenged my kids to do something difficult and not be scared to fail.  

“They’ve just kind of found the balance on making this stuff happen,” he continued. “It is a pretty cool opportunity if you can go to two state championships.”

Getting to today’s Tennis Finals is a story full of success. The Elks’ first year under Schulte was halted after a week of practice due to the pandemic. The second year saw the team looking at a season with just nine potential players, but recruitment efforts resulted in the 2021 Elks managing to qualify for the  Finals for the first time in their history.

Elk Rapids went on to win the Regional championship in 2022. And then, after graduating six athletes, the Elks were able to repeat this spring with a valiant effort resulting in the co-championship with their conference rival St. Francis.

Dual-sport standouts, while rare, aren’t entirely unheard of – especially at the state’s smaller schools where athletes frequently are needed to fill rosters in multiple sports during the same season. In fact, the Schultes aren’t even alone on their tennis team – sisters Ryleigh and Haleigh Yocum also are playing doubles today but softball on Saturday.

The Yocums won the Regional title at No. 2 doubles and also are slated to be the Elks’ first two batters as they take on Mancelona as one of the favorites to win a Division 3 District title on the softball diamond.

“I do feel bad for them – it’s states,” said 14-year veteran softball coach Erin Merchant. “I do want them to have that opportunity. 

“I hope they go far,” she continued. “But then deep down, I’m like, ‘We need them Saturday.’”

Tim Nance and Jesse Way are in their first year co-coaching the boys and girls track teams at ER. They’re pleased the Schultes are prioritizing track while enjoying tennis.

he Schultes helped the Elks to their first two Regional titles in tennis, including their second straight this spring.“I think it is remarkable how resilient, laid back and casual the girls are about their success,” Nance said. “I would say it hasn’t compromised their talent, hard work and success.

“I think it has worked out great,” he continued. “I am selfish and I want them to myself only, but I am happy they can have two successes.”

The Elks will have Ayva Johnstone at No. 1 singles, Kelly Minidis and No. 2, Morgan Bergquist at No. 3 and Jasmine King at No. 4 this weekend. They also will have No. 1 doubles Chloe Taylor and Caroline Best and No. 4 doubles Tessa Nico and Portia Beebe, in addition to the Yokums and Schultes.

Jaida Schulte is a junior. She’s one of the recruits who joined to help the Elks get to their first Tennis Finals in 2021. Bergquist and Beebe were recruits in 2022.

Tennis is the favorite sport today for those three, but track and cross country are right up there for Jaida thanks to the opportunity to run with her freshman sister Brynne.

Jaida is hoping to at least match her personal-record split of 2:36 in the 3,200 relay Saturday. But her goal was first to win all of her doubles matches Friday and see the tennis team finish top-five in its division.

“Brynne loves track, and I love the challenge of running,” Jaida said. “I don’t think I would have the experience of running track or cross country without Brynne.”

Coaches saw very little disruption, if any, with their track, softball and tennis teams this spring with the Yocums and Schultes dual-sporting. The Schultes were able to get track and tennis practice or competition most every day.

“I prioritized track,” Brynne said.  “I also got a lot of hitting time in for tennis.

“I would go to track practice first, and as soon as I would be done I would run over to the tennis courts and hit with my sister for a half an hour before going home,” she continued. “It has been worth it.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Elk Rapids sisters Brynne (left) and Jaida Schulte have teamed up at No. 3 doubles for the tennis team this season. (Middle) Brynne Schulte sets to start a track relay. (Below) The Schultes helped the Elks to their first two Regional titles in tennis, including their second straight this spring. (Photos courtesy of Jaclyn Schulte.)