Marquette Clinches Win in Final Event

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 1, 2019

KINGSFORD – The race for the Upper Peninsula Division 1 girls track & field championship came down to the wire here Saturday, as Marquette edged reigning champion Negaunee 106-100.

Marquette secured its eighth title in nine years by winning the 1600-meter relay in four minutes, 14.58 seconds.

Negaunee, which held a three-point lead going into the day's final race, took sixth in the 1,600.

"What a day," said Marquette coach Natalie Messano. "It was a battle all day. Negaunee has a great team. It's real stressful as a coach, although I had faith in our girls. We had our eye on the trophy. But they made us work for it, that's for sure."

Negaunee gained the upper hand in the previous race with juniors Emily Paupore and Talon Prusi going 1-2 in the 3,200 run on this sunny and warm day at Flivver Field.

Paupore retained her 3,200 title in 11:57.64, with Prusi at 12:32.67 and Marquette sophomore Josie Danielkiewicz third (12:36.32).

"It was close all the way," said Negaunee coach Vickie Paupore. "To say I'm proud of our team is an understatement. Talon really stepped up in the 3,200, and our throwers had big performances. Emily and Chloe Norman are hard workers. Both gave it their all and did what they needed to do."

Marquette swept the relays, also taking the 400 (52.06), 800 (1:49.55) and 3,200 (10:07.44).

Emily Paupore added firsts in the 800 (2:23) and 1,600 (5:16.79). Norman won high jump at five feet, long jump (16-1) and 300 hurdles (45.56) and was runner-up to Menominee sophomore Mackenzie Wellner (16.43) by just more than half a second in the 100 hurdles.

"I didn't have my best 3,200 run, but I'll take it," said Emily Paupore, who took a week off after the Regional (May 16 at Negaunee) due to shin issues. "I'm learning to deal with adversity. Not everything goes the way you want. You just have to push through it. Having to deal with it makes you stronger. I have so much support from my family, coaches and friends. I love this kind of pressure. It makes you work so much harder and want it more."

Sault Ste. Marie sophomore Emily McLean set the U.P. Finals shot put record for the second straight year at 39-2, also matching her school-record toss from the Regional (May 16 at Escanaba). Her team finished third overall.

"My coach (Brad Boven) is really helpful," said McLean, who was runner-up in discus (108-3). "He gives me a lot of pointers. Today, he just told me to worry about myself and stay positive. My throw in the Regional was a little bit of a motivator, but I always try to get better. I had a real good throw in disc, but it was a scratch. That's just the way it goes. The girl from Negaunee (junior Abbie Tollefson) is really good."

Tollefson won discus (109-9) and was fourth in shot.

Kingsford senior Olivia Allen won the 400 in a school-record 58.93, added firsts in the 100 (12.93) and 200 (26.47) and was runner-up in long jump (15-9).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette’s Molly Welch runs her leg of the Redettes’ winning 3,200 relay Saturday. (Middle) Negaunee’s Chloe Norman clears a hurdle on the way to winning the 300 race. (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.)