Marvin Seeking Record-Setting End to Marvelous Byron Career

By Tim Robinson
Special for

June 1, 2021

BYRON — In a bare-bones weight room that appears more like a garage to passers-by, Sarah Marvin is working to finish her quest to rewrite the record books in the shot put for girls track & field.

Not just in the Lower Peninsula’s Division 3, in which she won Finals titles in both the shot put and discus in 2019, but for all divisions.

Marvin, who has a track scholarship to the University of Michigan, has had 11 throws this season beyond the LPD3 Finals record of 46 feet, 9 inches, set by Becky Breish of Edwardsburg in 2001.

She twice has surpassed the all-Finals record of 49 feet, 11.75 inches set by Division 1’s Corinne Jemison of East Kentwood in 2018 – the first time during last summer’s National Scholastic Athletic Foundation’s virtual meet, and then again May 26 at a meet in Comstock Park with a throw of 50 feet, 9 inches.

“Throwing is so technical,” she said, “and you have those days where you’re just clicking and firing on all cylinders. I think I’ll be close to being there soon in these few meets I have left.”

It starts with the Division 3 Finals on Saturday at Jenison.

Marvin and her fraternal twin sister, Becky (a strong thrower in her own right) are familiar with the Jenison layout, which was the site of the 2019 Division 3 Finals.

“We’ll get there Friday,” Marvin said. “We like to go to the throwing rings and feel it out, get a good dinner, then stay at a hotel so we don’t have to ride for an hour and a half in a car (before the competition).”

Throwing is a sport that comes naturally to the Marvins, both for the twins, their sister Jessica and their mother, Theresa, who competed at Michigan after winning two state titles in the discus for Byron during the 1990s.

“Their older sister (Jessica) and brother T.J.) did AAU, which isn’t as big here, but is in the Detroit area,” Theresa Marvin said. “We started a club and had kids that weren’t ours on the team as well. It was a lot of fun for us. Other families were doing T-ball and soccer, and we were doing track.”

The Marvins installed a pair of throwing rings on their property about a decade ago, and the twins picked it up from there. The family took its vacations at AAU national meets, driving all over the country.

Both of the Marvin twins (Sarah is two minutes older, Becky an inch taller) played multiple sports at Byron. Becky also ran cross country and played basketball and wrestled, while Sarah was a starting offensive lineman on the Byron JV football team and did some wrestling in addition to playing basketball, where she was a three-time Owosso Argus-Press Player of the Year.

After her junior year, Sarah gave up football and wrestling.

“I had switched my (shot put) technique to rotational, and I needed more time, more months that I could devote to throwing,” she said. “I tried to train and throw during football season, but I was just too physically tired to do it the way you need to do it. I decided to put my effort and time into throwing.”

As she mentioned, Marvin had switched her throwing from a glide technique, where one effectively pushes the shot in the throw, to the rotational, where the shot comes out like it is slung.

“I’m very comfortable with it now,” she said. “But I’m looking forward to getting more comfortable with it. It’s so technique-heavy. You have these guys who have been doing it for more than a decade, and I’ve been doing it for two years. The more you do it, the more you develop the muscle memory.”

Certainly the results have been there. All of Marvin’s throws this season have been well beyond the 44-11.5 she threw to win at the 2019 Finals.

Byron track & field“It’s helped me make a big improvement,” she said. “But we knew that it would.”

But Sarah Marvin also has a key element in her makeup that has spurred her success.

Asked what she thinks makes her sister stand out, Becky Marvin said, “her work ethic, for sure. She’s always working harder than everyone else. She’ll go out and lift without me sometimes. She has talent, for sure, but her drive makes her stand out.”

During last year’s pandemic, the Marvin sisters were without a place to work out after Byron High School closed.

“We got online and on Facebook Marketplace and put the word out,” Theresa Marvin said. “People gave us stuff, and we made an at-home weight room in our barn.”

Their sister Jessica, who competes at Northwood University, came home along with her boyfriend, who like Jessica is a thrower at Northwood. They all worked out.

“It was a houseful,” said Theresa, a mother of six.

Theresa Marvin realized early on that her twins would need more specialized coaching than what she could provide, and for the last couple of years they have worked with Dane Miller, a private coach based in Fleetwood, Pa.

“I do still coach them at meets, and I try to facilitate what Dane’s trying to do,” said Marvin, who also coached her daughters on the Byron varsity girls basketball team the last two years.

Speaking of basketball, the extension of the season into late March cut into the Marvins’ training time for track.

“Her strength levels go down in basketball from all the running,” Theresa Marvin said of Sarah. “It took her a good 4-6 weeks to get back to speed, and I don’t think she’s there yet. Last year, she didn’t peak until mid-July.”

The Marvin sisters, whom Byron girls track coach Byron Schartzer calls “The Wonder Twins,” feed off each other in competition.

“Just to have another person to hold you accountable to train with definitely helps,” Sarah said.

And while they’re serious about their sport, they also keep things light-hearted.

“If I throw big, she throws big, sometimes,” Becky said. “I made fun of her at the Comstock Park meet; I fouled on my first throw and made the second.

“Then she fouled on her first throw and made the second, and I’m like, ‘OK, you can just copy me, then,’” she added, chuckling. “But if one of us hits a big throw, we try to drive off that.”

While there are other amateur meets later this month, the Marvins have their attention set on Saturday’s Finals.

In the shot put, Sarah Marvin has the top throw this season entering the week, but Becky Marvin is in the top 10, seventh in a pack where spots 3-8 are within 21 inches.

Sarah also is ranked No. 1 in the discus, while Becky is ranked sixth.

“They’re both having great seasons,” Theresa Marvin said. “But you never know. You just can’t take anything for granted. We focus on being healthy, being ready to peak, and then being ready to go on that day.”

And then, before they know it, the twins will be separated. Sarah is going to Michigan to study movement science with an eye toward, perhaps, a medical career.

Becky is going to Tiffin University, where she plans to compete on the track team while pursuing a business degree.

“It’s like 2½ hours from Byron,” Becky said. “Ann Arbor’s on the way home, so if I’m driving by and she wants to come home, I’ll pick her up.”

It’s family, after all, that Sarah cherishes the most about her athletic career.

“I can’t imagine where I would have been in my sports, or my success in sports, without my family,” she said. “In basketball, it was my older sister playing. My three brothers are all wrestlers. I have huge family support and a huge extended family that comes to all my games. They’ve all grown up playing sports, and it’s just fun.”

PHOTOS: Byron senior Sarah Marvin shows her shot put form; she’s the reigning Division 3 champion in the event. (Middle) Sarah and twin sister Becky Marvin are workout partners and make up one of the top throwing pairs in the state again this spring. (Photos by Tim Robinson.)

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.)