Petoskey Goes Distance Again for 1st Track Finals Win

June 6, 2021

ZEELAND – Petoskey went the distance again Saturday at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Girls Track & Field Finals.

After claiming the Division 2 cross country championship in the fall, with senior Emma Squires the individual race winner, the Northmen were bolstered by Squires again in winning their first Finals title on the track.

Squires won the 800 (2:14) and 1,600 (4:55.05), finished second in the 3,200 and anchored the winning 3,200 relay (9:27.33) at Zeeland, which added up to 38 of Petoskey’s total 48 points. Parma Western was second with 29.

The Northmen’s only other top-two Finals finish had come in 1992, when they finished Class B runners-up.

“It definitely was a really hot, windy day, definitely not the best conditions, but we just had to gut through it,” Squires said. “It was definitely the hardest race and meet ever this season.

Allegan track“The past two weeks definitely we’ve all been stressing about it. But we tried to sleep well and eat well and train well, and it definitely worked out well. We all peaked at the right time.”

Squires was joined the on the 3,200 relay by senior Sarah Liederbach and juniors Noel Vanderwall and Caroline Farley. Vanderwall also joined Squires finishing fourth in the 1,600 and sixth in the 3,200, and Farley was right there with a seventh in the 3,200 as well.

“The distance girls won the state championship in cross country, and that’s where all of our points came from today,” Petoskey coach Karen Starkey said. “Throughout the year they worked hard, and we had some not-so-good weather, but everybody just worked together and it was positive. … They have a lot of guts, desire, and they’re a good group of girls and we’re going to miss them.

“I was pretty confident they would perform (Saturday) as they did all season long. It’s unusual to have goose bumps on an 88-degree day. And that happened several times today.”

Bridgeport junior Chaniya Madison was among those who powered through as well, as she won the 100 (12.36) and 200 (25.96) to score 20 of third-place Bridgeport’s 26 points. She previously had won the 100 as a freshman in 2019. Allegan senior Hannah Antkoviak was another double champ, claiming the titles in the 100 hurdles (14.94) and 300 (44.69).

Bridgeport trackBig Rapids’ senior Erika Beistle also gave a two-title good-bye to her high school career with a 20-foot win in the discus (147-5) while claiming the shot put championship (42-10) as well.

Belding freshman Brook Simpson, meanwhile, debuted by setting the LPD2 meet record in the high jump at 5-10, besting the 5-9 jumps by Sara Jane Baker of Mattawan in 2001 and Christine Krellwitz of Big Rapids in 2004.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood senior Kaya Freeman won the long jump (17-4), and Grand Rapids West Catholic senior Katie Clifford won the pole vault (12-0). Simpson also finished second in the 400 to Marysville junior Reese Powers, who crossed first in that race in 57.71 seconds. Linden won the 400 relay (50.36), Hudsonville Unity Christian won the 800 relay (1:47.14) and Dearborn Divine Child won the 1,600 relay (4:04.32).

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PHOTOS: (Top) Petoskey’s Emma Squires outpaces the field during one of her championship runs Saturday at Zeeland. (Middle) Allegan’s Hannah Antkoviak, middle, works to stay just ahead of Cranbrook’s Kaya Freeman (left) and Stevensville Lakeshore’s Lynea Slayback. (Below) Bridgeport’s Chaniya Madison powers through the final strides of one of her sprint victories. (Photos by Dave McCauley/

Finals Title Next Step for Versatile Swan Valley Record-Breaker Kuhn

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

May 22, 2024

Sydney Kuhn’s habit for smashing school records at Saginaw Swan Valley has forced the track & field program to start taking cost-cutting measures.

Bay & Thumb“We stopped changing out the records on our record board,” Swan Valley coach Dave Dawson said. “We just figured, she has another year and she’ll break it again, so we figured we’re going to save money this way.”

Kuhn, a junior, owns the school records in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters. She also has the program record in 60 meters, an indoor track event. She’s run the school’s second-fastest 300 hurdles time, and one of the top five 100-meter times. The 1,600-meter relay team she’s part of with Mackenzie Morgan, Grace Spear and Mackenzie Powell is close to setting a record, as well, and has qualified for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals on June 1.

“Her ninth-grade year, everybody knew, depending on what happens and her attitude, they knew she could be something special. There was potential there,” Dawson said. “Lauren Huebner, she graduated in 2016 and went to SVSU and was a two-time Division II national champion, she had eight records on the board. Sydney feeds off that. Especially now that Lauren is helping coach, she’s definitely been pivotal in this.”

Kuhn qualified for the Finals in the three events she ran at last week’s Regional: the 200, 400 and 1,600 relay. She will be the No. 1 seed in the 400, and has run the fastest time in the state regardless of division, at 55.11 seconds. She’s the No. 2 seed in the 200, where her personal best of 24.89 is the fifth-fastest time in the state this year, regardless of division. She finished third and sixth, respectively, at the Finals in the events a year ago.

“I feel good,” Kuhn said. “I’m just getting ready. It’s been a good year, it’s been going smoothly. The 400 looks pretty good, and the 200 there will be some good competition. Freshman year, I got fifth, then third (as a sophomore) in the 400, so hopefully this year is first.”

She did not run the 800 at the Regional, as it was decided it was too close in the meet order to her other events. She’s run 2:12.75 in the event, the fourth-fastest time recorded in the state this season.

That could be where she has the most potential, however, as it’s a race she had never run competitively until her sophomore season. The first time she ran it in a varsity meet, she recorded a 2:21, setting the school record.

Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth.“(Coach) Andrew Wendler put a bug in her ear, ‘If you’re running this fast in the 400, think of what your 800 would be,’” Dawson said. “She says, ‘Yeah, I’ll try it.’ So, in one of our first conference meets, she ran against a girl that’s pretty good in the 800 and we just said to follow her – stick with her and see what you can do. With 200 meters left, she just took off and broke the school record the first time she ran it.”

A year later, they tried the same thing with the 1,600. And again, Kuhn responded by running 5:12.73 in her first try, setting the school record. She’s since run 5:06.45.

“The first time I ran the 800, I ran against Mary Richmond from Frankenmuth who is really fast, and I sort of paced behind her the first 400, then the last 300 I took off. Same thing with the 1,600. I felt like staying behind her, I wasn’t really racing, so I could just go, I thought.”

Richmond is a three-time all-state finisher in both the 1,600 and the 3,200, as well as a four-time all-state cross country runner. 

With Kuhn’s instant success in every race she’s tried, the logical next question is, what about the 3,200?

“My coach mentioned that,” Kuhn said with a laugh. “But I usually just shake my head. You never know.”

There is a real question, however, about what event, or events, Kuhn is best suited for moving forward. She said that she would like to shift some focus to the 800 for her senior year, and several college coaches who have been in contact with her have indicated that’s where she could land.

“The pattern typically is they would probably turn her into a half-miler or a miler,” Dawson said. “Some college coaches want her for the heptathlon with her hurdle experience, and she is not a stranger to the weight room. That’s the fun part about this, she tries something and it’s usually pretty fun. It’s usually a positive experience.”

Kuhn is ready for whatever is thrown at her.

“They’re mostly like 800, 1,500, those types of races,” she said. “Some of them just say whatever you like best. One coach mentioned the steeplechase – I don’t know about that. One coach did mention (heptathlon). I’d be open to whatever is best.”

While she’s taken some unofficial visits, she said she’s in no hurry to choose a college. Her focus remains on winning a Finals title at Swan Valley, and a series of times she’s set as goals for herself: 24.4, 54.9, 2:09.9, 4:59.9.

They’re all saved on her phone screen, where they’re easy to change as she reaches them. And at no cost.

“Every time I look at my phone, I see the times I want to get,” she said. “I’ve changed my screen saver a lot when I do break it.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Saginaw Swan Valley’s Sydney Kuhn runs toward the finish during the Korf/Schultz Saginaw County Invitational on May 10 at Hemlock. (Middle) Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth. (Photos by Eagle Eye Photography.)