The Upper Peninsula track & field community will say good-bye to some memorable standouts during Saturday’s Finals at Kingsford High School – but also welcome the start of what should be some dynamite championship runs over the next four years.
Six past individual champions will be concluding their careers, including UPD1 Finals shot put record holder Emily McLean of Sault Ste. Marie. But many will be watching intently as well as freshman favorites like Lola Korpi of Ishpeming and Danica Shamion of West Iron County make their debuts.
Below is a glance at team contenders and individuals to watch in all three divisions.
Top Regional scores: Houghton 69, Marquette 57, Sault Ste. Marie 51.
Team forecast: Marquette edged Sault Ste. Marie at their Regional and will be looking to add a second-straight Finals championship and 11th over the last 13 seasons. Houghton could be in for a historic finish as well as it has posted only one top-two Finals team placing, coming in as Class C runner-up in 1982. The story is similar for Sault Ste. Marie, which is seeking its first Finals title in this sport since 2001 and last finished among the top two in 2011. Marquette has the top seeds in seven events, but Menominee is right there with five top seeds and Sault Ste. Marie has the depth to match Marquette.
Emily McLean, Sault Ste. Marie: The senior thrower is seeded first both in the shot put (45-4) and discus (112-11) and set the UPD1 Finals record in the shot put of 39-2 as a sophomore. She also won that throw as a freshman in 2018.
Ingrid Seagren, Houghton: The Gremlins junior is seeded first in the 3,200 (12:28.29) by 16 seconds and second in the 1,600 after placing in both as a freshman in 2019. She finished third in UPD1 cross country in the fall (in a race won by teammate Paige Sleeman, who is seeded first this weekend in the 800 and third in the 1,600).
Baux Truckey, Marquette: She could be climbing the podium four times in her first Finals. The sophomore is seeded first in the 100 (13.4) and 200 (27.6) and is part of the top-seeded 400 and 800 relays detailed below.
Makenzie Wellner, Menominee: The Maroons’ senior standout also is lined up for four championships as the top seed in the 100 hurdles (16.5), 300 (47.3) and long jump (16-6) and as part of the top-seeded 1,600 relay (4:12.89). She won the 100 hurdles as both a freshman and sophomore.
Marquette 400 and 800 relays: Both could make a run at meet records. Truckey anchors a 400 relay with juniors Ava Jones and Maria Millado and sophomore Julia Ott that ran 51.48 at the Regional – and the UPD1 Finals record is 51.22. She anchors Jones, Millado and senior Clarissa Remillard on an 800 relay that ran 1:49.87 at the Regional – with the UPD1 Finals record in that race 1:46.34.
Top Regional scores: West Iron County 81, Ishpeming 59½, St. Ignace 50.
Team forecast: St. Ignace won the last three Division 2 championships before COVID-19 struck last spring, and the Saints this weekend also will be seeking their 10th title over the last 12 seasons (with the 2013 championship coming in UPD3). West Iron county was the champ in 2013 and runner-up in 2014 and 2015, and Ishpeming also is regularly in the mix with back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016 and the runner-up finish in 2019. The Wykons enter with top seeds in seven events; the Hematites have top seeds in five. The Saints don’t have a top seed but 16 individual entries and all four relays racing.
Lola Korpi, Ishepming: The Division 2 cross country runner-up in the fall as a freshman, Korpi heads into her first Track Finals as the top seed in the 800 (2:39.5), 1,600 (5:38.89), 3,200 (12:28.12) and as part of the top-seeded 3,200 relay (11:10.35).
Rebekah Loman, Ishepming: The Hematites senior won the discus in 2019 with a toss of 104-7 and is top-seeded in that throw this weekend at 106-9. She’s also the second seed in the shot put after finishing fifth in that event as a sophomore.
Ally Schultz, St. Ignace: Now a junior, Schultz is the reigning champion in the 200 and 400. She’s seeded second in the 100, third in the 200, fourth in the 400 and will run on the second-seeded 800 relay this weekend.
Jordan & Danica Shamion, West Iron County: The Shamion sisters could take this meet by storm. Jordan, now a senior, won the 100 hurdles in 2019 and is the top seed in that race (17.6), the 300 (50.7) and shot put (32-0¼) and will also run on the top-seeded 1,600 relay (4:38.58). Danica, a freshman, also will run that relay and is top-seeded in the 100 (14.1), 200 (28.3) and 400 (1:02.2).
Top Regional scores: Stephenson 95, Rapid River 64, Pickford 63.
Team forecast: Lake Linden-Hubbell won three straight championships prior to COVID, and Stephenson could be next up as it seeks its first team title since 1993. The Eagles have 25 individual entries and all four relays running, with sophomore Daisy Grinsteiner and senior Paige Cappaert top seeds in field events. Rapid River has fewer entries but three tops seeds and two second seeds.
Camaryn Crouch, Lake Linden-Hubbell: The pole vault champion as a freshman in 2019 is second-seeded in that event and also will run on the second-seeded 400 relay, and as part of the 800 relay.
Daisy Englund, Rock Mid Peninsula: She was part of two relay champions in 2019 and earned the Division 3 cross country titles this past fall and in 2017. She’s seeded third in the 100 this weekend, first in the 800 (2:34.6), fifth in the long jump and will run on the second-seeded 800 relay.
Ashton Hord, Felch North Dickinson: The Mountaineers junior sprinter is the top seed in the 100 (13.9) and 200 (28.8), the fourth seed in the 400, and also will compete in the long jump.
Jaylyne Lindemann, Baraga: The shot put champion in 2019 as a sophomore will attempt to add another championship in that event and should contend in the discus as well.
Landry Koski, Rock Mid Peninsula: She’ll look to add to 1,600 and 3,200 championships won in 2019 as a sophomore, competing this weekend in the 400, 1,600 and as the third seed in the 3,200, and she’ll also run on the second-seeded 800 relay. She was third in Division 3 cross country in the fall.
PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette's Maria Millado hands off to Clarissa Remillard in the 800 relay during the Marquette County Meet this spring. (Middle) Ishpeming’s Lola Korpi runs the 3,200 at the Marquette meet. (Phots by Cara Kamps.)
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.)