Farwell junior – Track & Field
Sports run deep in Albaugh’s family, and she added another achievement to the legacy April 26 with a school record-breaking performance. Albaugh broke Farwell’s shot put record that had stood since 1993 with a throw of 38 feet, 10½ inches and also won the discus in a meet against Harrison to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”
Albaugh’s record toss bested Shane Haas’ 24-year-old throw by 6½ inches and would’ve placed Albaugh third at last season’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals, where she finished seventh in shot put. Albaugh tossed the discus 113-3 against Harrison, a career best and 2 feet, three inches short of another 1993 record set by Haas, now Shane Barnett.
While shot put is her favorite spring athletic endeavor, Albaugh admits her family is half track & field and half softball, and she’s also hitting .400 on the diamond this spring after helping Farwell to a Division 3 District title last season. Albaugh’s mom Jill is a former Shepherd throws record-holder and an assistant track & field coach for Farwell, while her aunt Marge Albaugh was the LP Class C shot put champion for Bullock Creek in 1982. Lillian's sister Libby Albaugh was a softball standout at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart and made the MHSAA record book with 22 doubles in 2012, and her dad Bill directs the summer softball Mt. Pleasant Drillers program. Lillian admits, “My whole life has been sports, sports sports.” But that’s not all; she's a strong student, plays in the marching and concert bands, and participates in 4-H and was Isabella County Fair princess for 2015. She's interested in studying for a career in education and potentially coaching or becoming an athletic director.
Coach Matt Horodyski said: “Lillian is well-liked by all competitors and coaches. She is a hard worker with a great attitude. She takes care of business in the classroom as well as on the field. She encourages her teammates and classmates alike to do their best. We are all very proud of what Lillian has accomplished, and look forward to see how much further she can take it.”
Performance Point: “I said I’m going to do this, I’m going to give it my all, it feels like I’m going to break some records today," Albaugh said of her record-breaking meet. "When I heard I was in the hole (third in line to throw) ... I turned around and got away from everyone. I prayed really quick, said God, this is my moment in time, I’ve worked so hard, and this is my moment now to shine. All of a sudden I was up, I got in the circle, looked where I was throwing and said OK, I’m going to challenge myself. This is the day. I brought it down into position, I was going into my glide and I don’t know why but I closed my eyes. I felt myself go so quick … I grunted really loud … and I saw the shot put fly so fast. I’ve never seen my throw go so far or fast. … I got out the back (of the circle), and I’m waiting and waiting, and I started crying. All of a sudden I hear ‘38 feet, 10 and a half inches,’ and I started bawling. For two and half years I’ve wanted that record, and I knew sometime someday I’d throw 38 feet.”
Thanks Mom: “I’ve been throwing since I was in seventh grade, and I’ve never had a throwing coach besides one, (middle school coach) Chris Kelly. My mom just helps me some more with it, fills in the blanks with what I need to do more. She helps me a lot.”
Happy to hand off: “(Barnett) is my good friend’s mother. She had the middle school record too and I beat her record. Her daughter (Soyer Barnett) plays softball with me, and I always talk with her mom. She was just so excited for me (Wednesday). When she first saw me she gave me a hug and said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’”
Be like Michelle: “One day my mom said to look up YouTube videos (of throwers), and I did. I typed in ‘girls shot put Olympics’ because I always wanted to know about Olympic shot putters, and Michelle Carter (2016 gold medalist and U.S. record holder) popped up. When I was watching her throws, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I want to be her so much. I want to be like her and throw that far.’ I watched her at the Rio Olympics (last) year … everything was so right. How people were talking on there, ‘Look at her epic throw.’ I’m like, ‘Yes.’”
Busy is best, but shot put is #1: “I like to keep myself busy, just having fun with my friends and enjoying life and trying new things that I always wanted to try. … Shot put … I just like throwing a heavy ball and seeing how far it goes, seeing if I can accomplish more goals in life.”
- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2016-17 honorees:
April 27: Amber Gall, Shepherd track & field – Read
April 20: Sloane Teske, East Grand Rapids tennis – Read
March 30: Romeo Weems, New Haven basketball – Read
March 23: Jaycie Burger and Maddie Clark, Pittsford basketball – Read
March 16: Camden Murphy, Novi swimming & diving – Read
March 9: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central wrestling – Read
March 2: Joey Mangner, Chelsea swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 23: Isabelle Nguyen, Grosse Pointe North gymnastics – Read
Feb. 16: Dakota Hurbis, Saline swimming & diving – Read
Feb. 2: Foster Loyer, Clarkston basketball – Read
Jan. 26: Nick Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling – Read
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball – Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball – Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football – Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball – Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball – Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country – Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country – Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis – Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Farwell's Lillian Albaugh watches her shot put land during last week's meet against Harrison. (Middle) Albaugh also takes plenty of swings for the softball team. (Top photo courtesy of the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, middle photo courtesy of Farwell High School.)
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.
As 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.”
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 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.)