Many Do Their Parts to Drive Lakes 3-Peat
June 1, 2019
By Adam Niemi
Special for Second Half
KINGSFORD – Lake Linden-Hubbell cruised to its third straight MHSAA Division 3 UP Finals championship Saturday.
The Lakes scored 112 points, well ahead of runner-up Felch North Dickinson's 62.
"It's just unbelievable. We knew where we were on paper; we had the most points from our seeding. We know that that never works out," Lake Linden-Hubbell head coach Gary Guisfredi said. "We talked to the girls about how important it was to work for our personal bests, which we got a lot of those today. We also talked about how important it is to, if we're seeded fifth, to get to fourth and bump up. We had that today. We had multiple girls who were not seeded one through six, came out of other heats and actually placed. It really was just an amazing day."
Rock Mid-Peninsula was third (56), followed by Brimley (45) and Stephenson (42) to round out the top five.
The Lakes' third straight title came on the strength of gritty determination and hard work, embodied by Sienna Anderson's comeback from an ACL injury a year ago. She took second in the 100 hurdles behind Brimley's Hayley Gamberdella.
The Lakes took five firsts including wins in the 400 meter and 1,600-meter relays. Mariah Willmer won the 800 run. Jamie Hendrickson won the high jump, and Camaryn Crouch won the pole vault.
Lake Linden-Hubbell's biggest calling card was getting multiple girls piling points in the same event. Three Lakes took the top three places and 24 points in the pole vault, led by Crouch. It was around then that the Lakes padded the lead.
"All of a sudden we went from close, to not so close anymore," Guisfredi said. "I'm just really, really blessed with this group. I'm so happy for them because they've just worked so hard. All the kids work hard, but this has been a fun group."
Masyn Alexa's big day helped North Dickinson's small team to a runner-up finish.
The Nordics sent just six girls to the UP Finals. Lake Linden-Hubbell had 16.
"We really competed well today. Hats off to Lake Linden. They had a great day," North Dickinson head coach Mike Roell said. "We got beat by a really good track team today, but we beat a lot of good track teams to come in second here today. We're really proud of our kids. All year we've been working hard, and it paid off today. I can't say enough. Masyn Alexa broke two school records in the 200 and 400 dashes. She kind of carried us through this thing. We had a lot of young girls that worked their tails off and scraped up enough points to get runner-up. We're really proud of that."
Alexa, a junior, won and set a school record in the 400 with a time of 1:00.86. She held the previous record from last year.
"I've been working to get that record for a long time,” she said. “I ran high 1:01 three different times last year and once again this year. In practice two days ago I was three hundredths of a second away from getting it. I was hoping today I could get it, and I ended up getting it. My coach was at the 200 mark, marking my time as I came across. Then I knew what I was at so I could finish strong.
"I wasn't sure if I had it or not. I knew I was close. I heard all the cheers as I went across. I didn't know whether I had it or not. When I looked, my mom was nodding so I knew I had it."
Alexa also set a new record in the 200, improved by 13 hundredths of a second.
Alexa barely edged Stephenson's Amanda Starzynski to win the 200, by nine hundredths of a second. She was also the fourth leg of the 400 relay that took second behind Lake Linden-Hubbell.
The Nordics also took second in the 800 and 1,600 relays. Hannah Clark placed fourth in the pole vault. Briana Smith was third in the long jump. Skye Ledzian was third in shot put and fifth in discus.
Starzynski leaned forward while crossing the finish line to edge Alexa in the 100 dash by a hundredth of a second. She also anchored the Eagles' 400 relay team that took fifth, and won the long jump.
Baraga's Jaylyn Lindemann won the shot put at 31 feet, 3.5 inches.
PHOTOS: (Top) Rock Mid-Peninsula's Camryn Croadsell, left, and Lake Linden-Hubbell's Joslyn Perala charge toward the finish in the 400 relay. (Middle) North Dickinson's Sophie Mattson runs the 3,200. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)
Elk Rapids' Schulte Sisters Splitting Finals Weekend Between Tennis, Track
By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com
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.
They’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.
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.
“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 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.)