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

Finals Title Next Step for Versatile Swan Valley Record-Breaker Kuhn

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

May 22, 2024

Sydney Kuhn’s habit for smashing school records at Saginaw Swan Valley has forced the track & field program to start taking cost-cutting measures.

Bay & Thumb“We stopped changing out the records on our record board,” Swan Valley coach Dave Dawson said. “We just figured she has another year and she’ll break it again, so we figured we’re going to save money this way.”

Kuhn, a junior, owns the school records in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters. She also has the program record in 60 meters, an indoor track event. She’s run the school’s second-fastest 300 hurdles time, and one of the top five 100-meter times. The 1,600-meter relay team she’s part of with Mackenzie Morgan, Grace Spear and Mackenzie Powell is close to setting a record, as well, and has qualified for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals on June 1.

“Her ninth-grade year, everybody knew, depending on what happens and her attitude, they knew she could be something special. There was potential there,” Dawson said. “Lauren Huebner, she graduated in 2016 and went to SVSU and was a two-time Division II national champion, she had eight records on the board. Sydney feeds off that. Especially now that Lauren is helping coach, she’s definitely been pivotal in this.”

Kuhn qualified for the Finals in the three events she ran at last week’s Regional: the 200, 400 and 1,600 relay. She will be the No. 1 seed in the 400, and has run the fastest time in the state regardless of division, at 55.11 seconds. She’s the No. 2 seed in the 200, where her personal best of 24.89 is the fifth-fastest time in the state this year, regardless of division. She finished third and sixth, respectively, at the Finals in the events a year ago.

“I feel good,” Kuhn said. “I’m just getting ready. It’s been a good year, it’s been going smoothly. The 400 looks pretty good, and the 200 there will be some good competition. Freshman year, I got fifth, then third (as a sophomore) in the 400, so hopefully this year is first.”

She did not run the 800 at the Regional, as it was decided it was too close in the meet order to her other events. She’s run 2:12.75 in the event, the fourth-fastest time recorded in the state this season.

That could be where she has the most potential, however, as it’s a race she had never run competitively until her sophomore season. The first time she ran it in a varsity meet, she recorded a 2:21, setting the school record.

Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth.“(Coach) Andrew Wendler put a bug in her ear, ‘If you’re running this fast in the 400, think of what your 800 would be,’” Dawson said. “She says, ‘Yeah, I’ll try it.’ So, in one of our first conference meets, she ran against a girl that’s pretty good in the 800 and we just said to follow her – stick with her and see what you can do. With 200 meters left, she just took off and broke the school record the first time she ran it.”

A year later, they tried the same thing with the 1,600. And again, Kuhn responded by running 5:12.73 in her first try, setting the school record. She’s since run 5:06.45.

“The first time I ran the 800, I ran against Mary Richmond from Frankenmuth who is really fast, and I sort of paced behind her the first 400, then the last 300 I took off. Same thing with the 1,600. I felt like staying behind her, I wasn’t really racing, so I could just go, I thought.”

Richmond is a three-time all-state finisher in both the 1,600 and the 3,200, as well as a four-time all-state cross country runner. 

With Kuhn’s instant success in every race she’s tried, the logical next question is, what about the 3,200?

“My coach mentioned that,” Kuhn said with a laugh. “But I usually just shake my head. You never know.”

There is a real question, however, about what event, or events, Kuhn is best suited for moving forward. She said that she would like to shift some focus to the 800 for her senior year, and several college coaches who have been in contact with her have indicated that’s where she could land.

“The pattern typically is they would probably turn her into a half-miler or a miler,” Dawson said. “Some college coaches want her for the heptathlon with her hurdle experience, and she is not a stranger to the weight room. That’s the fun part about this, she tries something and it’s usually pretty fun. It’s usually a positive experience.”

Kuhn is ready for whatever is thrown at her.

“They’re mostly like 800, 1,500, those types of races,” she said. “Some of them just say whatever you like best. One coach mentioned the steeplechase – I don’t know about that. One coach did mention (heptathlon). I’d be open to whatever is best.”

While she’s taken some unofficial visits, she said she’s in no hurry to choose a college. Her focus remains on winning a Finals title at Swan Valley, and a series of times she’s set as goals for herself: 24.4, 54.9, 2:09.9, 4:59.9.

They’re all saved on her phone screen, where they’re easy to change as she reaches them. And at no cost.

“Every time I look at my phone, I see the times I want to get,” she said. “I’ve changed my screen saver a lot when I do break it.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Saginaw Swan Valley’s Sydney Kuhn runs toward the finish during the Korf/Schultz Saginaw County Invitational on May 10 at Hemlock. (Middle) Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth. (Photos by Eagle Eye Photography.)