By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
With so many athletes competing at each of the five sites of Saturday's MHSAA Track & Field Finals, it's easy to lose track of who is competing where until they reach the starting blocks.
But fans will want to be sure to focus on a number of familiar standouts who could dominate girls meets this weekend.
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, and check out MHSAA.TV for live streaming of running events from both peninsulas, available with subscription.
LP Division 1 at Hudsonville Baldwin Middle School
Top Regional scores: Grosse Pointe South 195½, East Kentwood 176, Ann Arbor Pioneer 164½.
East Kentwood: The Falcons have never won an MHSAA title in girls track & field, but did finish second last season to Oak Park. East Kentwood could trim the margin significantly if not eliminate it this time. Senior Sekayi Bracey is the reigning champion in the long jump, 100 and 200 and total has won eight individual titles over her first three seasons; she’s seeded third in long jump (17-9¾) second in the 100 (12.0) and sixth in the 200 (24.84) plus runs on the third-seeded 400 relay (48.47). She’ll have help especially in the field events from sophomore Corrinne Jemison, who is third in discus (133-6) and also will toss shot put, and junior Gabriela Leon is second-seeded in pole vault (12-6).
Oak Park: The two-time reigning champion will say good-bye to one of Michigan’s top talents of this decade with senior Anna Jefferson running her last high school races and looking to add to two individual and four relay championships. She’s seeded second in the 100 hurdles (14.10) and 400 (55.15). Junior Tamea McKelvy is seeded first in the 100 and 200 dashes (11.89 and 23.97), and another outstanding senior, Brianna Holloway, is third in the 100 hurdles (14.37) and first in the 300 (43.84) after winning the latter last season. The 400 relay (47.15) also is seeded first, and sophomore Dorriann Coleman is seeded third in the 800 (2:15.53).
Ann Arbor Pioneer: The Pioneers have the kind of star power necessary to win this meet, led by sophomore Britten Bowen. She’s seeded first in the 100 hurdles (14.02) and second in the 300 (44.56) and runs on the second-seeded 400 relay (47.87) and top-seeded 800 relay (1:39.99). Another sophomore, Anne Forsyth, is seeded first in the 1,600 (4:56.30) and second in the 3,200 (10:43.94), and junior teammate Alice Hill is seeded first in the 800 (2:10.45); both also run on the top-seeded 3,200 relay (9:03.86). Senior Torisa Johnson has top-four seeds in the 100 and 200 and also will be key.
Grosse Pointe South’s Kayli Johnson: After taking fifth in shot put as a junior, she enters as the fourth seed in that event (39-9) but top seed in the discus (136-8) and also runs on the 400 relay.
Farmington’s Maddy Trevisan: She took fifth in the 3,200 last season as a junior and has the top seed (10:38.62) by more than five seconds this time, as well as the sixth seed in the 1,600 (5:01.82).
LP Division 2 at Zeeland
Top Regional scores: Dearborn Divine Child 182½, Ada Forest Hills Eastern 146½, Detroit Country Day 124½.
Flint Powers Catholic: Only 36 points won this meet a year ago, which makes someone like reigning shot put champion Nikole Sargent even more valuable; she’s seeded first in the shot put (47-7¼) and discus (137-4). Senior Tyra Hunter could score as the sixth seed in the 100 hurdles (15.3), as could junior Lyndsey Braman coming in as the fourth seed in the 800 (2:19.52) and junior Julia Vanitvelt running the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 and being seeded seventh in the 1,600 (5:14.41). She and Braman run on a 3,200 relay seeded third (9:32.77).
Lansing Waverly: The Warriors tied for ninth last season and would get a huge boost by justifying their top seeds in the 400 (49.38) and 800 (1:45.31) relays. Sophomore Tra’chele Roberts runs on both and also is seeded third in the 100 (12.44) and 14th in the 200 (26.42). Junior Teaghan Thomas runs on both relays as well and is tied for sixth in high jump (5-2). Sophomore Malin Smith also could contribute big points in field events, entering seeded third in shot put (43-1½) and seventh in discus (121-3).
Detroit Country Day: The Yellowjackets are seeking their first title since sharing in 2012. Junior Michaiah Thomas is the reigning champ in the 100 hurdles and seeded first in that race (14.42), second in the 300 (45.23), seventh in the 100 dash (12.68) and fourth in the 200 (25.80). She alone could put Country Day into contention.
Battle Creek Harper Creek’s Charley Andrews: The reigning high jump champ is seeded first in that event (5-8) and also will run on the 3,200 relay after helping it to an eighth-place finish a year ago as a sophomore.
Carleton Airport’s Zoe Eby: She took first in the 200 and third in the 400 in 2015 as a sophomore, and this season is seeded first in the 200 (25.02), second in the 100 (12.25) and also will long jump.
Saginaw Swan Valley’s Lauren Huebner: After winning the 300 hurdles as a junior, Huebner is seeded fourth in that race (45.65) and third in the 100 hurdles (15.0) and also will run on the fifth-seeded 800 and sixth-seeded 1,600 relays.
Spring Lake’s Gabriella LeRoux: She won pole vault as a sophomore and is seeded first by four inches at 12-3; she’ll also run the 100 and on the 400 relay.
Ada Forest Hills Eastern’s Camron Nelson: The reigning 100 champion is seeded 11th in that race (12.76) and 15th in the 200, and also will run on the second-seeded 400 relay (49.78).
Grand Rapids South Christian’s Abbie Porter: She’s the fourth seed as a senior in the 400 (58.32) after winning the race last season and also runs on the top-seeded 1,600 relay (4:01.46).
LP Division 3 at Comstock Park
Top Regional scores: Hopkins 154, Pewamo-Westphalia 153, Ithaca 150.
Ithaca: The Yellowjackets have never won an MHSAA title in this sport but were fourth last season and on relays alone should be in the mix. The 400 relay is seeded third (51.26), the 800 fourth (1:48.31), the 1,600 also fourth (4:10.32) and the 3,200 relay second (9:34.12). Senior Erica Sheahan is perhaps most valuable among individual contributors; she’s the top seed in long jump (17-11¾) after winning last season, ninth in the 100 and second in the 200 (25.99). Junior Emily Foster comes in sixth-seeded in the 300 hurdles, and junior Courtney Allen enters third in the 800 (2:19.14) and also will run the 1,600.
Pewamo-Westphalia: The reigning champion Pirates are seeking their third title in four seasons and finished runner-up the off year. The talent is spread across a number of events; all four relays qualified for Saturday, with the 400 relay top-seeded (50.83), the 800 relay seeded seventh and the 3,200 relay seeded fourth. Senior Emma Schafer is seeded first in the 100 hurdles (15.53) and fourth in the 300 (47.11), and junior Emma Wirth has top-11 seeds in the 200 and 400 after taking fourth in the 100, second in the 400 and third in the 200 in 2015. Schafer also should help on the field event side, entering with the second-seeded shot put (38-1), while sophomore Claudia Heckman is seeded ninth in long jump.
Traverse City St. Francis: While the Gladiators don’t have a qualifier in field events, they do have senior Holly Bullough, a two-time runner-up last season who is seeded first in the 800 (2:17.36) and 1,600 (4:56.61) and also runs on the top-seeded 1,600 (4:06.43) and 3,200 (9:31.18) relays. Junior Emmalyne Tarsa also could provide a boost; she’s seeded eighth in the 100 hurdles (16.23) and fourth in the 400 (1:00.03).
Manistee’s Emma Burns: The reigning high jump champion went 5-3 to win last season and is among a large group that cleared 5 feet at Regionals.
Byron’s Jessica Marvin: She won discus last season and is third-seeded in that event (123-4) and top-seeded in the shot put (38-5).
Adrian Madison’s Megan Rosales: She’s seeded third in the 300 hurdles (47.07) and runs on the eighth-seeded 800 relay and third-seeded 1,600 relay (4:09.89) after winning the 400 and coming in second in the 300 last season.
Sanford Meridian’s Hailey Stockford: The reigning champion in the 100 and 200 will look to cap her career with a couple repeats entering second-seeded in the 100 (12.54) and tops in the 200 (25.83).
LP Division 4 at Grand Rapids Houseman Stadium
Top Regional scores: Saugatuck 242, Fowler 187½, Deckerville 152½.
Saugatuck: The Indians finished 14th a year ago and have never won an MHSAA title in this sport, but have a chance to make history with strong relays leading the way. All four qualified, with the 1,600 seeded third, the 400 and 3,200 fifth and the 800 relay seeded sixth. Sophomore Paisley Sipes could add points seeded second in the 3,200 (11:42.34), sixth in the 1,600 (5:21.93) and tied for 11th in the pole vault. A strong group of freshmen including Thea Johnson (800) and Lily Francis (300 hurdles) also could factor in.
Fowler: Last season’s runner-up would love to add a third title in six seasons and first since 2012. Their relays are ranked even higher than Saugatuck’s as a group, with the 800 (1:48.75) seeded first, the 1,600 second, 400 third and 3,200 seeded fourth. Seniors Julie Thelen (800) and Madison Koenigsknecht (400) in races and freshman Alyssa Vandegriff (high jump) and sophomore Ciera Weber (pole vault) in field events are among a large group of others who could contribute.
Reading: The Rangers were fourth last season and return with all four relays and competitors in nine individual events. The 800 relay is seeded third and the 3,200 second (9:51.73), and senior Teddi Zimmerman has top-six seeds in both hurdles races among a number of individuals on the cusp of scoring territory based on their Regional performances.
Lawrence’s Mara Carter: The reigning shot put champion enters seeded second in that event (40-9) and fourth in the discus (115-0).
Pittsford’s Maddie Clark: She won discus last season and is seeded second in that event (126-4) this time.
Waterford Our Lady’s Tessa Fornari: She’ll be looking for a repeat in the 1,600 and 3,200 while seeded seventh (5:22.31) and third (11:48.73), respectively, in those races.
Custer Mason County Eastern’s Jordan Goodman: Last year’s winner in the 100 finished sixth or higher in four events and this time will compete in the long jump (16-4), where she’s seeded third and came in sixth in 2015.
Petersburg-Summerfield’s Ashley Herrmann: The reigning high jump champion is seeded first in that event (5-4) as a senior but also third in the 100 hurdles (16.19) and fourth in the 300 hurdles (48.07).
Concord’s Lindsey Lehman: One of the fastest sprinters last season winning the 200 and coming in second in the 100, she’ll try to finish her career with four more titles seeded fourth in the 100 (12.45), first in the 200 (26.57) and running on the seventh-seeded 400 and sixth-seeded 1,600 relays.
Mesick’s Sierra King: She nearly swept the hurdles in 2015, winning the 100 and finishing second in the 300, and she enters second-seeded in the 100 hurdles (15.49), third in the 300 (48.01) and also will compete in long jump.
UP Division 1 at Kingsford
Top Regional scores: Marquette 85, Houghton 53½, Negaunee 53.
Marquette: The Redettes doubled up the field last season in winning their sixth straight Division 1 championship. This will be the last high school run for stellar seniors Lindsey Rudden and Holly Blowers; Rudden is seeded first in the 1,600 (4:56.80) and 800 (2:14.58), runs on the top-seeded 1,600 (4:12.22) and 3,200 (10:15.88) relays and owns seven individual Finals championships in track. Blowers is seeded second in the 1,600 (5:16.66) and 800 (2:22.34), runs on the same relays and owns three previous individual titles. Junior Amber Huebner won the 3,200 last season and is seeded first in that race (12:00.28), third in the 1,600 and also runs those relays. Junior Hannah Detmers is the reigning 300 hurdles champion and is seeded fourth in that race, but also runs on the 1,600 relay and the second-seeded 800 relay.
Escanaba’s Jenny Brandt: Last season’s discus champion enters with the second-longest throw from the Regionals (99-2).
Escanaba’s Sunny Martineau: She’s seeded second in the 100 hurdles (16.38) and third in the 300 (48.51) after winning the 100 and finishing second in the 300 in 2015.
Houghton’s Kendra Monette: The reigning shot put champion also finished sixth in the 100 last season as a freshman; she’s seeded first in shot put (37-2), fifth in the 100 (13.47) and runs on the top-seeded 800 relay (1:50.78) and second-seeded 400 relay.
Calumet’s Hailey Wickstrom: The high jump champion last year at 4-10 is the top seed as a junior at 5-3¼.
UP Division 2 at Kingsford
Top Regional scores: Ishpeming 78, Hancock 73, St. Ignace 58½.
Ishpeming: The Hematites will go for a repeat with three top-seeded relays, strong field events and a title winner leading the way. Junior Khora Swanson is the reigning champion in the 800 and runner-up in the 1,600, and she’s seeded first in the 1,600 (5:54.26) and 800 (2:28.85), fourth in the 3,200 and runs on the top-seeded 3,200 relay (10:54.66). The 800 (1:56.01) and 400 (54.71) relays are both also seeded first, as are senior Libbie Doney in the pole vault (9-0) and junior Marissa Maino in the shot put (35-10). Maino won shot put and discus last season and is second-seeded in the discus this time.
Hancock: The Bulldogs own one MHSAA title in this sport, from 1983, but could move up from fifth a year ago. Distance running and hurdles are definitely the team’s strengths; senior Mary Jarvis is seeded first in the 100 hurdles (16.52) and 300 hurdles (48.45) and third in the 100 dash, and senior Julie Heinonen is seeded second in the 100 hurdles (17.29) and runs on two relays. Jarvis won both hurdles races last season.
St. Ignace's Linnie Gustafson: She won high jump last season in Division 3 at 5-1 and is top-seeded in the event at 5-2 while also running two relays.
Ironwood’s Rachel Hudaceck: The reigning high jump champ in this division at 5-0 is seeded second at 4-9 and also will run on two relays.
Iron River West Iron County’s Emmy Kinner: As a sophomore Kinner won the 100, 200 and 400; as a junior, she seeded first in all three races (13.27/27.22/1:02.30) and tied for second in long jump as well (15-6½).
UP Division 3 at Kingsford
Top Regional scores: Munising 78, Lake Linden-Hubbell 65, Stephenson 57.
Munising: The Mustangs are seeking their first championship since 2009 after finishing fifth but only 19 points back a year ago. They have competitors in 13 events and two top seeds: Madeleine Peramaki is seeded first in the 800 (2:28.31) while also doing long jump and running on the 1,600 relay, and junior Michaela Peramaki is seeded first in the pole vault (8-6, tied) while also running the 100 and on the 400 relay.
Newberry: The reigning champion returns its one-two punch from last season’s Final, where Taylor Bryant won the 100 and was fourth in the 300 hurdles, and Natalie Beaulieu won the 800 and 1,600. Bryant is seeded first in the 100 hurdles (17.14) and 300 hurdles (49.34) and also will run the 100 and on the second-seeded 400 relay. Beaulieu has top-five seeds in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 and will run on the 3,200 relay.
Ontonagon’s Paige Blake: The reigning long jump and 400 champion placed in four events total last season, and she’s seeded first in the 400 (1:03.04), third in the 200 (28.64), second in the long jump (14-9) and also will run the 100.
Cedarville’s Emma Bohn: She’s the top seed in the 1,600 (5:25.24), second in the 3,200 (12:18.84) and also will run the 800 and on the top-seeded 3,200 relay (10:44.74) after winning the 3,200 last season.
Brimley’s Alyssa Hyvarinen: She won discus and shot put in leading Brimley to a runner-up finish in 2015, and this time she’s top-seeded in the discus (103-10) and second in the shot put (35-3).
PHOTO: Ishpeming's Khora Swanson is among many standouts returning to MHSAA Finals on Saturday. (Photo 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.)