Marquette 4-Peat Full of Milestones

By John Vrancic
Special for

May 31, 2014

KINGSFORD — Marquette sophomore Lindsey Rudden on Saturday became the first female athlete to break the five-minute barrier in the Upper Peninsula Track and Field Finals, earning her second straight Division 1 title in 4 minutes, 55.28 seconds. 

“At the beginning of the season, this was my goal,” she said. “I had a cheering section here and wanted to do something extraordinary. I can’t thank my parents, teammates and coaches enough. I just feel blessed to have this opportunity and be able to do it.”

She was followed by freshman teammate Amber Huebner at 5:15.25 and Menominee senior Kameron Burmeister (5:17.66) on a sunny and hot day at Flivver Field. 

The Marquette girls were crowned champions for the fourth straight year with 145 points. They were followed by Escanaba with 86 and Negaunee with 71.

“The girls took care of business,” said Marquette coach John Peterson. “As coaches we were a little concerned because of the heat. But the girls were very disciplined and stayed under the bleachers until it was nearly time to do their events. Lindsey told me she wanted to break five minutes. We knew it was coming. We just didn’t know it would happen this soon. I told her to take it easy at first and if it felt right, go for it. It was a hot day, but a good day for our team.” 

Rudden scratched from the 400 to allow for more recovery time, then retained her 800 title (2:23.54) and helped the winning 1,600 relay.

Huebner captured the 400 (1:00.44) and 3,200 (11:48.8), using a strong final lap to overtake Burmeister (11:54.32), and placed second in the 800 (2:24.12).

“It’s always hard to lead because you can hear the person behind you breathing,” said Huebner. “Plus, Kameron was hurting a little (with a sore hip). I feel bad for her. I just wanted to do my best in the 400. Hopefully, next year I can break a minute. Being my first time here, I was a little nervous. But the upperclassmen helped me through it. The whole team did a real good job. We all did what we had to do. We couldn’t have done it without Coach P.” 

Marquette junior Hunter Viitala won the 300 hurdles in a school-record 46.27 seconds and helped the 1,600 relay. She also helped the Redettes place second in the 800 relay and took third in high jump at 4 feet, 10 inches.

“It was cool to see Hunter set the school record in the 300 hurdles,” said Peterson. “We certainly appreciate the efforts of our assistant coach Natalie Messano. She does a nice job with our sprinters and hurdlers. 

“I think the U.P. Track FInals are the greatest athletic event in the Upper Peninsula. Getting the opportunity to see so many athletes compete on the same day is phenomenal.”

Escanaba senior Lynsey Collins anchored the winning sprint relays and was runner-up in the 300 hurdles (47.74) and fifth in the 100 (13.59). 

Negaunee opened the day by winning the 3,200 relay, and junior Hailee Richards won discus (111-1).

Calumet junior Chelsea Jacques captured the 100 (12.73) and 200 (26.5) and anchored the second-place 400 relay, which finished just two steps behind Escanaba.

Click for full results. 

PHOTO: Marquette's Lindsey Rudden leads the field during one of her championship runs Saturday at Kingsford.. (Click to see more from

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.)