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.

Click for full results

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.) 

Gaylord Record-Setter Embracing Challenges As Championship Season Approaches

By Tom Spencer
Special for

May 3, 2024

Katie Berkshire has her eyes on the prize today.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAnd she’ll have her eyes on another prize Saturday. After that she’ll move on to more conquests yet this track season.

That pattern will be repeated for the next two years on the track and along the cross country course.

Berkshire, a sophomore at Gaylord High School, is already a long-distance record-holder and a regular feature at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final. Today, she is throwing out the welcome mat to her opponents as Gaylord hosts its annual Blue Devil Classic.

She is welcoming this weekend’s competition because she knows fast races help her get better every day. Winning, although it happens often, is not her top priority. Putting in the work and getting better is what matters most, according to Gaylord girls track & field and cross country coach Lindsey Yates.

“She’s more than just a fast runner,” acknowledged Yates. “She knows she has to put the work in to get good results, and she’s always wanting more.

“The proof is in the pudding in what she does,” Yates continued. “She is a special — very special — athlete and young woman.”

Berkshire started this season by breaking the school record in the 3,200 at Gaylord’s first meet. She’s hoping to break the school’s 1,600 record yet this spring. And, she’s hoping to add to her collection of Regional and conference titles this month.

Higher finishes at the Division 2 Final on June 2 also are on the mind of the running sensation, who had a strong showing as a freshman finishing third in the 3,200 and 10th in the 1,600.

Track is known as an individual sport, but Berkshire looks at it more as a team sport with friendly competition.

Running, which started in Gaylord Elementary’s “Mileage Club” for Berkshire, wouldn’t be the same without teammates.

“Cross country and track are individual sports, but the team is a huge part – without the team it wouldn’t be the same at all,” Berkshire said. “We have all put in so much effort, and we deserve to go out and race and show what we can do.”

Berkshire, seated, confers with the Blue Devils coaches. “She’s a gift to the team,” Yates added. “It is an individual sport, but she has the whole team with her and she rallies for the team and the team rallies for her – it’s a family.”

Gaylord has had its share of individual Finals champions in the past under boys coach Matthew Warren, who Yates notes has played an integral part in Berkshire’s training.  But Berkshire is a one-of-a-kind runner for Yates, who has served as both the girls track and girls and boys cross country head coach the past two years at Gaylord.

“I have not seen anything as fine-tuned as Katie Berkshire, and it’s a breath of fresh air,” said Yates, who assisted both Blue Devils programs a few years before taking over. “The intrinsic desire for her is amazing.”

Running cross country and track brings endless challenges for Berkshire to conquer. The results, she notes, come from the training.

“Running shows me any challenge that comes my way I can just overcome,” Berkshire said. “It shows me if I have a goal in my mind, I can accomplish it if I work hard and put in the effort.”

During the fall, Berkshire won eight of her 12 cross country races including the Big North Conference meet and Regional. She’s already qualified for three Division 2 Finals across the two sports and is likely going to add a fourth Finals next month at Hamilton High School.

Before that, Berkshire is going after another Big North title and a Regional championship. Competitions, like those ahead always bring out her best; the conference includes Division 1 opponents.

“I enjoy running against even girls that are faster than me because they always push me to be better and they are there obviously to race and try their best,” Berkshire said. “They are an influence to me that I can get there one day and I can maybe even beat them the next season.”

This year she has hopes of running a sub-5-minute 1,600 to capture the school record; her best in the race is 5:11. She takes on both distance races regularly and also is a regular in relays. In Wednesday’s dual meet at Alpena, she set two personal bests running a 2:25.60 in the 800 and 1:05.71 in the 400.

Berkshire’s favorite event by far is the 3,200, as she likes finding the right pace and rhythm to handle eight laps.

“Most people would think I am crazy for that,” she said of her pick for favorite. “It’s the longest race on the track, and it feels the best for me.”

Yates says Berkshire has yet to run her best 3,200 of the season. The conference, Regional and Final should bring out the best in Berkshire, she noted.

“She’s amazing, and setting the record isn’t good enough for her. She wants to do it again,” Yates said. “She also wants the mile record, and she’s hungry for 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) Gaylord’s Katie Berkshire readies for a relay Wednesday against Alpena. (Middle) Berkshire, seated, confers with the Blue Devils coaches. (Photos provided by the Gaylord girls track & field program.)