Marquette Standouts Finish Stellar Run

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 4, 2016

KINGSFORD — The Marquette High School girls have dominated their competition throughout this track and field season.

That held true again Saturday as the Redettes captured their sixth consecutive Upper Peninsula Division 1 title with 169 points. Escanaba and Sault Ste. Marie shared runner-up honors with 61 apiece on a day during which rainy conditions eventually gave way to partly sunny skies at Flivver Field.

“This was a great day for our whole team,” said Marquette coach Natalie Messano. “I’m real proud of their effort. I was a little nervous at first about the weather, but the girls didn’t let it get to them. We have an excellent program and (former coach) John Peterson did a great job building it. It’s going to be hard to lose our seniors, but we have a lot of strong juniors coming up.”

The Redettes grabbed four of the six places in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs.

Senior Lindsey Rudden had a hand in four firsts, taking her fourth straight title in the 800 at two minutes, 16 seconds and 1,600 (5:03.31) and anchoring the winning 1,600 (4:05.4) and 3,200 (10:12.92) relays.

“I was a little slow today,” said Rudden, who set the U.P. 1,600 record at 4:55.28 two years ago as a sophomore. “It felt like I pushed hard. I’m pleased with the victories, but I’m definitely disappointed I didn’t break five (minutes) in the 1,600. Although, it’s still fun. A lot of our girls qualified, and I’m happy our team did so well.”

Senior Holly Blowers led off both relays and was runner-up in the 800 (2:22.69) and 1,600 (5:16.1).

“I think our handoffs went well, and we still have pretty solid times after losing Shayla (Huebner) to graduation last year,” said Blowers. “This is a real emotional day. It’s hard to believe it’s over.”

Marquette’s Izzie Peterson won the 100 (12.6), 200 (26.9), and helped the winning 400 relay (52.59) and runner-up 800 relay (1:49.28).

Junior Amber Huebner, also part of Marquette’s 1,600 and 3,200 relays, placed second in the 3,200 run (11:57.47) and third in the 1,600 (5:18.43).

Escanaba junior Jeny Brandt won discus at 108 feet, 10 inches. Negaunee’s Caylee Dempsey was runner-up (100-1), with Escanaba senior Haile Waters third (97-0).

Sault Ste. Marie senior Brenna James captured the 300 hurdles (47.11) and placed second in the 100 dash (13.03) and fourth in the 200 (27.55).

“My times improved a lot from last year,” said James. “My first 200 in the hurdles was solid, then I really had to fight through the last 100. I have to give credit to my opponents, too. That’s a tough race. Early in the meet, it was hard to stay warm with all the rain we were getting. We had to wear a lot of layers.”

James was followed by Marquette’s Jacquie Cammarata in 48 seconds flat and the Redettes’ Hannah Detmers (48.11) in the 300 hurdles.

Menominee senior Paiton Plutchak won the 100 hurdles (15.95), followed by Escanaba senior Sunny Martineau (16.42) and Cammarata (16.79).

“I felt pretty good,” said Plutchak, who finished with three straight victories in the 100s. “I hadn’t practiced all week because of my hip, but I felt the whole thing went well. My goal was to not hit any hurdles. I had kind of a mental block before the Regionals. I needed to get a few wins to get my confidence up.”

Kingsford’s Olivia Allen took the 400 (1:01.22), and helped the winning 800 relay (1:49.1) and runner-up 1,600 relay, which was clocked in a school-record 4:10.13.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette's Lindsey Rudden leads the pack during the 1,600 at the Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Menominee's Paiton Plutchak outpaces Escanaba senior Sunny Martineau (left) and Marquette’s Jacquie Cammarata in the 100 hurdles. (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.)