Northville's Abbott Takes Place with Stars
June 4, 2016
By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half
HUDSONVILLE — It was supposed to be the Sekayi Bracey and Anna Jefferson show.
And, to a great extent, it was.
Bracey added two more victories to her resume, finishing her outstanding career at East Kentwood with 10 individual championships in MHSAA track and field meets.
Jefferson led Oak Park to a third straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 team championship and all-division MHSAA Finals records in the 800 and 400 relays. The Knights had 81.5 points, while runner-up Ann Arbor Pioneer had 64.
While Bracey and Jefferson added to their legacies, Northville senior Chloe Abbott upstaged both all-time great Michigan sprinters by beating each of them head-to-head in events they've previously won.
First, Abbott ran 53.10 seconds to take down Jefferson in the 400-meter dash, an event Jefferson won in 2013 and 2014 before taking second in 2015. Jefferson took third Saturday.
Less than an hour later, Abbott pulled off a double that is extremely difficult under most circumstances, but more so considering her primary competition was going for her fourth MHSAA championship in the event. Yet, Abbott charged from behind to win the 200 in 24.03, while Bracey finished fourth in a race that featured six times of 24.51 seconds or faster.
Not yet worn out from those two exhausting races, Abbott anchored Northville to victory in the 1,600 relay, the final event, giving her three victories in the last six races of the day. She was also on the fourth-place 800 relay team, giving her a hand in 35 of third-place Northville's 50 points.
The first thing Abbott did after winning the 400 was try to forget about it.
"I talked to my friends," she said. "I relaxed myself a little bit, kind of numbed myself to the 400 zone. If you think about it for a long time, you're like, 'Wow, I did so good in the 400.' You kind of get comfortable with it. I wanted to forget it and focus on the 200. I'm so glad I was able to pull out another win. I'm surprising myself today."
Abbott didn't have the MHSAA Finals pedigree of Bracey or Jefferson.
In 2013, when Bracey and Jefferson were winning championships as freshmen, Abbott was 27th in the 200, her only event that year. She took sixth in the 100 and ninth in the 200 as a sophomore, while helping Northville get two top-three finishes in relays. As a junior, she was third in the 400 and seventh in the 200, adding a third-place finish on the 1,600 relay.
Abbott didn't beat Jefferson in the 400 until last summer, after the high school season.
"Ever since then, I didn't want to get beat by her again," Abbott said. "So, I kept pushing and knew I could do it."
Abbott had never beaten Bracey until Saturday.
"I never even dreamed of beating Sekayi," Abbott said. "I knew how great she was. She hasn't had a lot of competition all season. I figured she was going to come out and push it today, because she finally has some competition. I was nervous about that, because she's very good. I wanted to make sure I got that out of my head, forget about the people and just focus on my race and what I can control."
Bracey lost in a 200 final only once in her four-year career before Saturday, that coming her freshman year when Rockford's Sammy Cuneo beat her in the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Division 1 team championship meet.
"I don't even know what happened," Bracey said. "I was so frustrated when they were all coming up on me. I'm like, 'What's going on?' I never had that in my life. It was confusing."
Abbott and Bracey will be teammates at Purdue University beginning next season.
"I told her, '1 and 2, that's it, because now we're a team,'" Abbott said. "I wanted her and me to show out for Purdue and show out for our schools."
Bracey won the 100 for the fourth straight year in 12.08 seconds. She won her third long jump title with a leap of 18 feet, 10 inches. She jumped only once in the Finals to preserve herself for her track events.
Jefferson helped Oak Park break two all-division Finals records set by Detroit Mumford in 2005 with times of 1:36.66 in the 800 relay and 46.28 in the 400 relay.
"That was special," Oak Park coach Brandon Jiles said. "We knew we could run fast in the 4x1 and 4x2. It was all about putting it on the track. Those times are the fastest times by far that have been run in the state. For those kids to run that fast, they were really rolling. Everything had paid off, the hard work."
The Knights got off to a shaky start, with Jefferson failing to qualify for the championship race in the 100 hurdles and the 3,200 relay team placing out of the scoring with a ninth-place finish.
"It started out tough, but the kids were resilient and they fought and they showed they could win a tight meet, as opposed to a blowout like the last couple of years," Jiles said.
Oak Park's individual champions were sophomore Dorriann Coleman, who took the 800 in 2:10.20, and senior Brianna Holloway, who set a meet record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.71.
Greenville junior Landon Kemp was another of the stars of the meet. The highlight of her day was breaking the all-division Finals record in the pole vault with a leap of 13 feet, 4 inches. She also took second in the long jump at 18-5.5 and fifth in the 100 hurdles in 14.87.
Other individual champions were Ann Arbor Pioneer's Britten Bowen in the 100 hurdles (14.08); Port Huron's Rachel Bonner in the 1,600 (4:49.29); Farmington's Maddy Trevisan in the 3,200 (10:35.85); Grand Blanc's Quiara Wheeler in the discus (136-2); Grosse Pointe South's Kayli Johnson in the shot put (44-7.75); and Macomb Dakota's Kayla Dobies in the high jump (5-7).
Ann Arbor Pioneer won the 3,200 relay in 8:56.52.
PHOTOS: (Top) Northville's Chloe Abbott takes the lead on the way to one of her two championships Saturday. (Middle) East Kentwood's Sekayi Bracey won the ninth and 10th individual Finals titles of her career. (Below) Oak Park's 800 relay was among significant contributors to the team's overall LP Division 1 championship. (Photos by Carter Sherline and John Brabbs/RunMichigan.com.)
Elk Rapids' Schulte Sisters Splitting Finals Weekend Between Tennis, Track
By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com
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.
They’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.
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.
“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 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.)