Moment: GPS, Meier Earn National Acclaim

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

April 22, 2020

We’re missing spring sports big time. So we’re kicking off our next string of #MHSAAMoments with one of the most big-time performances in state track & field history.

Grosse Pointe South’s girls dominated during the start of last decade, claiming consecutive Lower Peninsula Division 1 championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Leading the surge was an athlete who still holds three all-MHSAA Finals records and anchored the fastest 3,200-meter relay in U.S. high school history.

Hannah Meier, who already had set all-Finals records in the 800 and 1,600 in 2011 as a sophomore, was joined on the record relay in 2012 by Kelsie Schwartz, Ersula Farrow and twin sister Haley Meier. Together they ran the race in 8:48.29 – 17 seconds faster than the previous MHSAA all-Finals record and the fastest in National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) history by 1.59 seconds.

The following season in 2013, the Meier sisters, Farrow and Christina Firl won the 3,200 relay championship in 9:01.98. Hannah Meier then went on to earn the sixth and seventh individual Finals titles of her career –while also breaking both of her previous all-Finals records.

She claimed the 1,600 title for the third-straight season, three seconds ahead of runner-up Haley Meier in 4:39.23, which remains the ninth-fastest time in that race in NFHS history. Hannah Meier followed by winning her fourth 800 championship in 2:07:37, 1.02 seconds faster than her previous all-Finals record and 1.56 seconds ahead of second-place Farrow. The Meiers and Farrow then teamed up with Lily Pendy for a second-straight Finals title in the 1,600 relay.

Both Meier sisters started their college running careers at Duke and finished them at University of Michigan, where both won individual and team Big Ten championships. Farrow began her collegiate track career at Clemson and finished at Louisiana State, earning All-America in the 800 as a senior. Schwartz also went on to the Big Ten, enjoying success at Michigan State University.

PHOTO: From left: Kelsie Schwartz, Ersula Farrow and Haley and Hannah Meier join Grosse Pointe South coach Stephen Zaranek for a photo during the 2012 LPD1 Finals. (Click for more from

Gaylord Record-Setter Embracing Challenges As Championship Season Approaches

By Tom Spencer
Special for

May 3, 2024

Katie Berkshire has her eyes on the prize today.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAnd she’ll have her eyes on another prize Saturday. After that she’ll move on to more conquests yet this track season.

That pattern will be repeated for the next two years on the track and along the cross country course.

Berkshire, a sophomore at Gaylord High School, is already a long-distance record-holder and a regular feature at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final. Today, she is throwing out the welcome mat to her opponents as Gaylord hosts its annual Blue Devil Classic.

She is welcoming this weekend’s competition because she knows fast races help her get better every day. Winning, although it happens often, is not her top priority. Putting in the work and getting better is what matters most, according to Gaylord girls track & field and cross country coach Lindsey Yates.

“She’s more than just a fast runner,” acknowledged Yates. “She knows she has to put the work in to get good results, and she’s always wanting more.

“The proof is in the pudding in what she does,” Yates continued. “She is a special — very special — athlete and young woman.”

Berkshire started this season by breaking the school record in the 3,200 at Gaylord’s first meet. She’s hoping to break the school’s 1,600 record yet this spring. And, she’s hoping to add to her collection of Regional and conference titles this month.

Higher finishes at the Division 2 Final on June 2 also are on the mind of the running sensation, who had a strong showing as a freshman finishing third in the 3,200 and 10th in the 1,600.

Track is known as an individual sport, but Berkshire looks at it more as a team sport with friendly competition.

Running, which started in Gaylord Elementary’s “Mileage Club” for Berkshire, wouldn’t be the same without teammates.

“Cross country and track are individual sports, but the team is a huge part – without the team it wouldn’t be the same at all,” Berkshire said. “We have all put in so much effort, and we deserve to go out and race and show what we can do.”

Berkshire, seated, confers with the Blue Devils coaches. “She’s a gift to the team,” Yates added. “It is an individual sport, but she has the whole team with her and she rallies for the team and the team rallies for her – it’s a family.”

Gaylord has had its share of individual Finals champions in the past under boys coach Matthew Warren, who Yates notes has played an integral part in Berkshire’s training.  But Berkshire is a one-of-a-kind runner for Yates, who has served as both the girls track and girls and boys cross country head coach the past two years at Gaylord.

“I have not seen anything as fine-tuned as Katie Berkshire, and it’s a breath of fresh air,” said Yates, who assisted both Blue Devils programs a few years before taking over. “The intrinsic desire for her is amazing.”

Running cross country and track brings endless challenges for Berkshire to conquer. The results, she notes, come from the training.

“Running shows me any challenge that comes my way I can just overcome,” Berkshire said. “It shows me if I have a goal in my mind, I can accomplish it if I work hard and put in the effort.”

During the fall, Berkshire won eight of her 12 cross country races including the Big North Conference meet and Regional. She’s already qualified for three Division 2 Finals across the two sports and is likely going to add a fourth Finals next month at Hamilton High School.

Before that, Berkshire is going after another Big North title and a Regional championship. Competitions, like those ahead always bring out her best; the conference includes Division 1 opponents.

“I enjoy running against even girls that are faster than me because they always push me to be better and they are there obviously to race and try their best,” Berkshire said. “They are an influence to me that I can get there one day and I can maybe even beat them the next season.”

This year she has hopes of running a sub-5-minute 1,600 to capture the school record; her best in the race is 5:11. She takes on both distance races regularly and also is a regular in relays. In Wednesday’s dual meet at Alpena, she set two personal bests running a 2:25.60 in the 800 and 1:05.71 in the 400.

Berkshire’s favorite event by far is the 3,200, as she likes finding the right pace and rhythm to handle eight laps.

“Most people would think I am crazy for that,” she said of her pick for favorite. “It’s the longest race on the track, and it feels the best for me.”

Yates says Berkshire has yet to run her best 3,200 of the season. The conference, Regional and Final should bring out the best in Berkshire, she noted.

“She’s amazing, and setting the record isn’t good enough for her. She wants to do it again,” Yates said. “She also wants the mile record, and she’s hungry for 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) Gaylord’s Katie Berkshire readies for a relay Wednesday against Alpena. (Middle) Berkshire, seated, confers with the Blue Devils coaches. (Photos provided by the Gaylord girls track & field program.)