Motivated Fowler Continues Dominance
June 1, 2019
By Steve Vedder
Special for Second Half
HUDSONVILLE – It might not be the most talented team from a program that has dominated small-school girls track for nearly a decade.
But this year's Fowler team ranks among the best in terms of motivation.
It took a first place in the final event of Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals, but the Eagles successfully repeated as meet champions with a narrow eight-point win over runner-up Pittsford at blustery Baldwin Middle School. The title was Fowler's third in four years and fifth since 2011.
The difference between the latest championship and the previous four wasn't necessarily about talent, coach Jill Feldpausch said. It was more about motivation.
"We are a very motivated team," Feldpausch said following a wild meet that included three weather delays totaling more than five hours. "We're always a target, but winning the state title was our goal. We knew it wouldn't come easy, but it's one of the most hard-working teams we've had."
Fowler finished with only two first places, both by Alyssa Vandegriff, but added three seconds, a third and two fourths.
Vandegriff won her second consecutive 100-meter hurdles title (15.17) and also took first in the high jump (5-2). She said her expectations for back-to-back titles is much the same pressure as what her teammates faced.
"It's probably harder the second time. There is pressure on you to keep things up," said Vandegriff, who was second in the 100 hurdles as a sophomore and will run at Central Michigan University next spring. "A lot of it depends on the competition, and it fluctuates. Sometimes you wake up and you're just not feeling it."
Feldpausch said the stick-out feature of this team was that the girls picked each other up.
"Every team is special, and we haven't gotten everything we've wanted," she said. "That comes and goes with teams. But with this team, someone is always picking up someone else. We had 11 girls run today, but there were 20 on the bus."
Royal Oak Shrine's Ellie Kendell was a double winner in the 3,200 (11:21.58) and 1,600 (5:11.93). Bridgman's Mikaela Owen won the 200 (25.93) and 100 (12.46).
Other field event winners were Lyndsi Wolfe of Fulton in the discus, Frankfort's Tara Townsend in the pole vault, Maggie Stevenson of East Jordan in the shot and Ally McLouth of Addison in the long jump.
Other winners were Scout Nelson of Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in the 800, Annie Laurenz of Breckenridge in the 300 hurdles and Annie Gunderman of Portland St. Patrick in the 400.
Pittsford won the 400 and 800 relays, while Sacred Heart captured the 1,600 and 3,200.
PHOTOS: (Top) Fowler’s Alyssa Vandegriff runs through the finish in repeating as 100 hurdles champion Saturday. (Middle) Royal Oak Shrine's Ellie Kendell charges to one of her two race championships. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)
Lake Linden-Hubbell, Stephenson Share in UPD3; Jokela Joins Elite Club
By Jason Juno
Special for MHSAA.com
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.
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.
PHOTOS (Top) Lake Linden-Hubbell's Emily Jokela, second from right, wins the 400 on Saturday. (Middle) Norway's Taylor Adams wins the 800. (Below) Stephenson's Jada Kuntze crosses the finish line first in the 3,200 relay. (Photos by Cara Kamps/RunMichigan.com.)