MHSA(Q&)A: Norway track champion Dani Gagne

June 7, 2012

By Brian Spencer
Second Half

Norway senior Dani Gagne might not be a familiar name among the Lower Peninsula track and field community. But in the Upper Peninsula, she's built a legacy that will be talked about for years to come.

Gagne won four Upper Peninsula Division 2 championships Saturday, giving her 10 MHSAA championships total for her high school career. She set a UP Division 2 Finals record in the 200-meter dash of 26.42, and also won the 100 (12.62), 400 (1:00.65) and long jump (15-foot-9).

Gagne also played volleyball and basketball at Norway. She's signed to run at Hillsdale College next season.

What sort of camps did you attend to get your times down?

I only went to one camp, and that was in 2009. The camp was held at the University of Michigan. They gave us pointers on good technique, how to move your hands when running, and how to get a good start from the blocks. I found that the advice that I got from the blocks was most worthwhile and helped me this past season the most.

What was the best advice you’ve received to help you reach the success that you have with track?

Well, there was this one guy (track coach from Loyola), who said I should look at everybody else as if they were in my race, and to visualize owning the race; make the race my own to win or lose.

What other colleges were you thinking of and how did you decide to go to Hillsdale?

I was looking at schools like Michigan Tech and Lake Superior State for track. I am glad that I decided on Hillsdale, though, and am excited for the experience to begin.

Who’s your favorite athlete and why?

Well, I’ve never thought about this much, but if I had to choose, Lori (Lolo) Jones is probably my favorite athlete. She’s a good runner. (Jones is a U.S. Olympian and was an NCAA champion hurdler at Louisiana State University).

How much did your back injury affect your events?

I suffered from an SI (sacroiliac) joint discomfort. It wasn’t a terrible injury, however, I did notice it a little bit when I ran. I noticed it more when I did the long jump. Jumping wasn’t terrible, but when I hit the sand, that’s when I was reminded that my back was uncomfortable the most. 

What are you going to study at Hillsdale?

Exercise science.

PHOTO courtesy of the Gagne family.

Lake Linden-Hubbell, Stephenson Share in UPD3; Jokela Joins Elite Club

By Jason Juno
Special for

June 4, 2023

KINGSFORD – Lake Linden-Hubbell got to the top with first-place power. Stephenson won only two events. 

But there are multiple ways to win an MHSAA Finals championship in track & field. And the Lakes and Eagles tied for the Upper Peninsula Division 3 girls title Saturday. 

Lake Linden-Hubbell got a little assist from two-time reigning champion Ontonagon in the final event, the 1,600 relay. The Lakes led in the standings by eight points, but they didn’t have a 1,600-meter relay team. Stephenson could have won the team title with a win in that event, but Ontonagon’s relay team proved solid again and forced the Eagles to settle for the runner-up spot in the race and the eight points that come with it.

The Lakes last won team Finals titles during a three-year run from 2017-19. For Stephenson, it had been since 1993 when the team competed in Class C. The Eagles were runners-up last year.

Norway's Taylor Adams wins the 800. Lake Linden-Hubbell sophomore Emily Jokela entered with the fastest Regional times in all four of her events, and she won all four of them Saturday – the 100, 200, 400 and 300 hurdles. She became just the sixth female to win four individual events at an MHSAA Finals.

The only one she didn’t win a title in last year was the 100 dash; she has that now. The only school record she didn’t have going into Saturday was in the 200; she has that now as well. She broke it by one tenth of a second.

“It feels great,” Jokela said. “I was very worried about running today because it was so hot.”

Her 300 hurdles time of 45.63 seconds set a UPD3 Finals record. Ontonagon’s Lori Wardynski had the record before (47.27).

Teammate Abi Codere repeated in the 100 hurdles, and their 400 relay team (Codere, Rebecca Lyons, Isabella Tampas and Cleo Milkey) also won.

Stephenson’s wins came in the 3,200 relay (Faith Cappaert, Joelle Beaudo, Kayela Putnam and Jada Kuntze) and the long jump (Sarah Labs).

Ontonagon also won the 800 relay (Lilly McIntyre, Alli Bobula, Kylee Uotila and Makennah Uotila).

“I’m sad we didn’t get a title this year, but the past two back-to-back U.P. titles we had made my entire career,” senior Makennah Uotila said. “I’ve enjoyed it so much. The relays were a big part of our U.P.  titles, so to still have strong relays is very important.”

Newberry’s Kaylen Clark won the 1,600 and 3,200 runs. She was the runner-up at the UPD3 cross country meet in the fall and in both events at the UPD2 track meet last season. Taylor Adams of Norway won the 800.

In the field, Mariska Laurila of Carney-Nadeau was the champion in the discus, Rudyard’s Alicia Cheney won the high jump, Dollar Bay’s Nora Keranen won the pole vault after winning long jump in 2022, and Brimley’s Grace Hill repeated in the shot put.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Lake Linden-Hubbell's Emily Jokela, second from right, wins the 400 on Saturday. (Middle) Norway's Taylor Adams wins the 800. (Photos by Cara Kamps/