Preview: Watch for Falling Records

June 2, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

If there is one theme that can be drawn across all seven MHSAA Girls Track & Field Finals to be run Saturday, it’s probably this:

There are plenty of standouts who have climbed the medal stand before – and could knock down a number of records on their way back up.

Read on for some of the teams and individuals to watch at Saturday's girls meets. Click for meet information including all qualifiers and come back Saturday night for results as they come in. Check out MHSAA.TV for live streaming of running events from both peninsulas, available with subscription.

LP Division 1 at East Kentwood

Top Regional scores: 1. East Kentwood 193, 2. Ann Arbor Pioneer 174, 3. Rockford 169½.

Ann Arbor Pioneer: Last season’s runner-up could score major distance points with junior Anne Forsyth, whose 1,600 (4:47.74) and 3,200 (10:21.92) top times are the fastest in the division this season. Senior Alice Hill’s top 800 time ranks among the top four, and junior Britten Bowen’s top 100 dash and 100 hurdles times both rank second and she’s the reigning champion in the latter. The 3,200 relay has the fastest time (9:02.69) by 17 seconds, and the 400 relay has come in second fastest.

Oak Park: The three-time reigning champion could be in line for a fourth straight title paced again by speedy relays – the 400 (47.38), 800 (1:39.03) and 1,600 (3:53.01) have run the division’s fastest times in those events this spring, and the 3,200 (9:19.68) has the second-fastest time. Senior Tamea McKelvy has top-three times in both the 100 and 200, and senior Carlita Taylor has the second-fastest 300 hurdles time. Dorriann Coleman is the reigning 800 champion.

Rockford: The Rams also could make a move on the title powered by relays. All four have run times that rank among the top five in LP Division 1 this season; the 800 and 1,600 relays have run the second-fastest times this spring.

Anavia Battle, Wayne Memorial senior: Battle finished fifth in the 100 and second in the 200 last season, and her top 100 time this spring (11.53) would push the all-Finals record.

Landon Kemp, Greenville senior: The reigning pole vault champion already holds the all-Finals record of 13 feet, 4 inches, and the second highest vault this season of 12-9 – plus the best long jump by more than five inches at 18-11 after finishing second in that event last season.

Taylor Manson, East Lansing senior: After finishing fifth in the 200 and second in the 400 last season, Manson enters this weekend with the fastest times in the division this season in both races – 23.90 and 54.96, respectively.

Grace Stark, White Lake Lakeland sophomore: Stark has run top-10 times in LP Division 1 in the 100, 200 and 100 hurdles, and that hurdles time (13.54) is especially notable because it came a week ago and would break the all-Finals record set in 2003.

Quiara Wheeler, Grand Blanc senior: After winning the discus championship last season by five feet, she has the best throw in the division this season (153-4) by more than four feet.

LP Division 2 at Zeeland

Top Regional scores: 1. Dearborn Divine Child 210, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 144, Zeeland East 137.

Holland Christian: Junior Kayla Windemuller is the reigning champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 and has the fastest times in the division this season in both races, 4:55.82 and 10:38.49, respectively, and is part of the the fastest 3,200 relay time (9:28.19). That 10:38 would set a meet record.

Lansing Waverly: The Warriors are coming off their first MHSAA team title, and could add a second with the top 400 (50.04) and 800 (1:44.88) relay times in the division entering the weekend after winning both last year. Freshman Priscilla Trainor has the third-fastest times in both the 100 and 200, and junior Malin Smith has the longest shot put (45-9¼) and second-longest discus toss (140-5). 

Zeeland East: The Chix finished fifth last season and could make a move led by junior hurdler Suenomi Norinh, who has top-five times in both races in the division this spring. Sophomore Aliyah Boeve has top six throws in both, and Norinh has the top high jump (5-9¼) and second-best long jump (17-6¾) in LP Division 2. She won the high jump last season, and her best this season would break the meet record.

Jakarri Alven, Grand Rapids Catholic Central sophomore: The reigning champion in the 400 and runner-up in the 200 has run top eight times in the division this season in those races and the 100.

Ieisha Davis, Romulus senior: After placing third twice and runner-up in a third sprint last season, Davis is seeking her first title with the second-fastest times in the 100 and 200 and ninth-fastest time in the 400 this spring.

Zoe Eby, Carleton Airport senior: Eby has the fastest 100 (11.97) and 200 (24.35) times in the division this season, and the 200 would be a meet record while her best 100 would threaten the record in that race. She won the 200 and finished third in the 100 last season.

Casey Korte, Gaylord senior: Last season’s long jump champion (and fourth-place finisher in the high jump) has posted jumps among the top seven in the division this season in both events, although she is not doing high jump this weekend.

Gabriella LeRoux, Spring Lake senior: The reigning pole vault champion is tied for the top vault this season (12-0) and also will run on a top 800 relay.

LP Division 3 at Comstock Park

Top Regional scores: Clinton Township Clintondale 221, Pewamo-Westphalia 170, Saugatuck 168.

Adrian Madison: The Trojans finished second last season, 3½ points back, and have the firepower to take the next step. Senior Megan Rosales ran on two winning relays and was runner-up in the 300 hurdles last season, and she has the top times in the division this spring in that race (44.77) and the 400 (57.56).

Pewamo-Westphalia: The Pirates won in 2013 and 2015, making this their season again by that pattern. They should be able to back up that hope led by senior Brenna Wirth, whose fastest 200 time (25.74) is tops in the division this season while she also ranks among the fastest in the 100 and 400. Three relays also have posted times among the top four in the division.

Shepherd: Picking a third team to rise in this division is tough because the top performers are spread out over a number of possible contenders. But the Bluejays get the call because of the potential scoring of sophomore Amber Gall. She has the division’s top time in the 800 this season (2:14.83) and also ranks among the top performers in the 1600 and 3,200 and as part of 1,600 and 3,200 relays that have posted times among the top four in the division.

Adelyn Ackley, Hart sophomore: After winning the 3,200 last season as a freshman, Ackley could be in line for more. She has the division’s best time in that race (10:29.45), the second-fastest in the 1,600 (4:54.31) and also ranks as part of a top 3,200 relay. Her best 3,200 individual time would break the meet record by six seconds.

Hannah Hall, Millington junior: The reigning champion in the high jump has the division’s top jump this spring at 5-6, two inches higher than when she won a year ago. That jump Saturday would tie the meet record.

Brooklin Klopf, Montrose senior: As a junior, Klopf won the shot put and didn’t place in the discus, but she enters the weekend with the top throws in both this spring: 44-4½ and 143-6, respectively.   

Kasey Staley, Clare senior: Staley broke the meet record last season winning with a vault of 12-4, and she’s gone 12-6½ this spring.

Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic junior: Her top 3,200 time (10:31.03), while second to Ackley’s, also would break the meet record by four seconds. Theis also has the top time this season in the 1,600 (4:53.74).

LP Division 4 at Grand Rapids Houseman Field

Top Regional scores: 1. Fowler 208, 2. Manton 193, 3. Muskegon Western Michigan Christian 147.

Fowler: The Eagles are going for their second straight championship and fourth this decade. Fowler won last season with three relay titles but no individual wins; those relays are again strong, but sophomore Alyssa Vandegriff in particular has a chance to shine individually. She has the second-fastest time in the 100 hurdles and 10th-fastest in the 300, and the top high jump (5-3). The 1,600 relay (4:08.89) also has the fastest time for that event this spring.

Pittsford: The Wildcats’ lone top-two team finish in this sport was a runner-up in Class D in 1994, but they have the standouts to make a run. Most notably, the 400 relay (52.33) and 800 relay (1:49.72) have run the fastest times this season in those events, and senior Maddie Clark – runner-up in discus last season – has the top discus toss (138-3) by 16 feet and the second-farthest shot (36-11). Senior Katie Clement’s 11-0 top pole vault is a foot better than the field.

Southfield Christian: A pair of standouts will give the Eagles a chance to move all the way up from eighth last season. Junior Chika Amene has the top times in the 100 (12.58) and 200 (25.71) and second-fastest 400 (58.21) in the division this season. Junior Kaelin Ray has the fastest 300 hurdles (46.42) and third-fastest 100 hurdles times.

Baleigh Irelan, Reading junior: Irelan has posted only the eighth-best time in the division in the 300 hurdles – but her winning time last season would be the best.

Erika Lechner, Harbor Springs senior: Last season’s shot put champion has added nearly four feet to that title-winning throw with her best this spring being 45-10 – nine feet farther than the rest of the pack. She’s also a discuss contender.

Mary Leighton, Mendon senior: The reigning 100 hurdles champion also set the meet record last year at 14.93 seconds. She has the division’s best time this season (15.40) and the fourth-best in the 300 hurdles after finishing fourth a year ago in that race.

Samantha Saenz, Concord junior: Her division-best time in the 1,600 (5:05.69) is more than 10 seconds better than the rest, and she’s also among the top six in the 3,200 and 800 after winning the 1,600 and finishing third in the 3,200 last year.

Ava Strenge, Battle Creek St. Philip senior: Strenge will try to add at least one more title to a celebrated career. She finished first in the 3,200 last season, has the fastest time this season (11:02.79) by nine seconds and the second-fastest in the 1,600.

UP Division 1 at Kingsford

Top Regional scores: 1. Marquette 75, 2. Sault Ste. Marie 49, 3. Houghton 47.

Marquette: The Redettes have won six straight U.P. Division 1 titles and remain favorites even after graduating some stars last spring. Marquette won all four relays at its Regional, and senior Izabelle Peterson was first in the 200 and second in the 100 after winning both races at last season’s Finals.

Sault Ste. Marie: The Blue Devils tied for second at the Finals last season and finished second to Marquette at this year’s Regional, but had the winner in three of eight running events in the latter. Senior Courtney Arbic was a relay standout at last year’s Finals, but enters this one with a first place in the 800 and second place in the 400 at the Regional.

Olivia Allen, Kingsford sophomore: The reigning 400 champ and 200 runner-up won both races and was second in the 100 at her Regional.

Jenny Brandt, Escanaba senior: She won the discus last season by eight feet, and won it at her Regional by 17 in addition to finishing third in shot put and high jump.

Clara Johnson, Negaunee junior: She won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at her Regional, setting herself up well to add to last season’s Finals title in the 3,200.

Sydney Mills, Gladstone junior: The reigning high jump champion won that event and was second in the long jump at her Regional.

Kendra Monette, Houghton junior: She’ll be favored to win the shot put again after doing so by nearly five feet a year ago and by more than five at her Regional; she also won the 100 at the latter.

UP Division 2 at Kingford

Top Regional scores: 1. Ishpeming 70, 2. St. Ignace 64, 3. Munising 50.

Ishpeming: The Hematites have won the last two championships and return two significant scorers for one last high school meet –reigning discus and shot put title winner Marissa Maino, and reigning 800, 1,600 and 3,200 winner Khora Swanson. Junior Katie Loman won both hurdles races at the Regional and could make another sizable contribution.

St. Ignace: The Saints are going for their fifth championship this decade and after finishing third a year ago. Junior Linnie Gustafson is the reigning high jump champ and has gone 5-3, three inches higher than at last year’s Finals. Sophomore Emily Coveyou also will be key to contention; she won the 200 and 400 at her Regional.

Taylor Bryant, Newberry senior: She won the 100 hurdles in Division 3 last season but is competing in Division 2 this time. So far, so good: she won the 100 and 300 hurdles at her Regional.

Emmy Kinner, Iron River West Iron County senior: She’s won seven individual Finals titles, including the 100, 200 and 400 two straight seasons. She won all three at her Regional, two races by significant margins.

UP Division 3 at Kingsford

Top Regional scores: 1. Lake Linden-Hubbell 91½, 2. Stephenson 64, 3. Pickford 59.

Lake Linden-Hubbell: The Lakes should make a good run at their first Finals title since 1994. Junior Laura Lyons was the long jump champion by five inches last season and posted top-four finishes in the 400 and 200; she won all three and the 100 at the Regional, where the Lakes took first in four of five field events and three of four relays.

Stephenson: The Eagles are seeking their first title – and top-two finish – since 1993. Their highest placer last season was a third in the 200, but that could change with sophomore sprinter Amanda Starzynski riding the wave of Regional championships in the 100, 200 and 400.

Ashtyn Buss, Engadine junior: After winning the shot put and finishing runner-up in discus a year ago, Buss helped her team to a Regional title with wins in both events.

Camryn Croasdell, Rock Mid-Peninsula freshman: She’s a reigning champion despite being a freshman, having finished first in the 200 last year as an eighth grader. She took first at her Regional and also finished second in the 100.

PHOTO: Newberry’s Taylor Bryant charges over a hurdle during last season’s U.P. Division 3 Finals. (Photo by Cara Kamps.) 

Blissfield's Miller Set for Senior Success After 3 Junior-Year Finals Trips

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

August 15, 2023

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. 

Southeast & BorderAs 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.” 

Miller pulls up for a jumper during last season’s basketball postseason run.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 DonnellyDoug 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.)