Reading Returns to Take Final Step

May 31, 2014

By Chip Mundy
Special to Second Half

HUDSONVILLE – When Reading senior Michelle Davis looked over the girls track and field team prior to this year, she was a little surprised at what she discovered.

“I looked at the freshmen coming up and saw that we weren’t losing as much as I thought,” she said. “We knew it was there to win the state title, but we had to work hard, and we did.”

Reading, fresh off an unexpected runner-up finish in 2013, came into this season with some added confidence, and on Saturday it all came together in an MHSAA championship. Reading won its second Lower Peninsula Division 4 title and first since 2001 with a convincing performance at the Baldwin Street Middle School facility in Hudsonville.

Davis led the way and broke two LP Division 4 meet records in the process. She won the 100 hurdles in 15.05 seconds – an LP Division 4 record – and added the 400 with a record time of 57.33. She also was second in the 300 hurdles and ran a leg on the winning 1,600 relay team.

However, she said breaking the record in the 400 was the most thrilling for her.

“The 400 was the best for sure because my idol is Erin Dillon (former Reading track star who went on to star at Central Michigan University), and she had the record before me,” Davis said. “It’s just amazing – all the hard work.

“Every person on this team worked so hard.”

Reading tallied five first-place finishes in 17 events and totaled 81 points to easily outdistance runner-up Traverse City St. Francis by 25 points.

Coach Deb Price thought the runner-up finish from a year ago played a big part in this year’s championship.

“Last year was somewhat of a surprise,” she said. “I thought we’d be in the top five, but I didn’t think we’d be runner-up. We had a mission. Our goal was to try to get it, but I didn’t want to count on anything until it actually happened.

“I think confidence was a big factor. I think that was huge. I think that made them realize that maybe they could get something. We had an awesome year.”

Junior Jenny Davis, Michelle’s sister, enjoyed a great meet in the sprints. She ran a leg on two winning relay teams – the 400 and 800 – and was second in the 200 in 26 seconds and third in the 100 in 12.65.

“It’s awesome, she did so well,” Michelle said of her sister. “She does so well in sprinting. I used to do sprinting, but she’s got it covered now so I don’t need to.”

Little sister Jenny was impressed by the way Michelle made the transfer to the hurdles.

“We needed another hurdler this year, so she just took that over,” she said. “It’s really fun running with Michelle.

“She’s a great role model for me. We get to run in practice and push each other.”

Reading’s three winning relay teams included a variety of younger runners with at least two more years of eligibility.

In the 400 (51.60) and 800 (1:47.36) relays, Jenny Davis was joined by sophomores Teddi Zimmerman and Samantha Pfeffler and freshman Kaitlin Seager. In the 1,600 relay (4:10.96), Michelle Davis was joined by Pfeffler, Alyssa Kinney and Terasa Eidenier – all sophomores.

Eidenier also took fourth in the 1,600 in 5:13.47 and fifth in the 800 in 2:23.75.

“We have a lot coming back,” Price said.

Runner-up Traverse City St. Francis has an exciting future as well with sophomore Holly Bullough, who won the 800 in 2:15.52 and the 1,600 in 5:01.34. She also was second in the 400 in 58.4 and ran on the third-place 3,200 relay team.

“This year was a little different because I did the open 400 instead of the two-mile,” Bullough said, “but going into this meet, I felt a little more ready because I worked out all over winter and last year I hadn’t done that.

“I felt a lot more in shape coming into this and a little more confident.”

Bullough has a lot to live up to with her bloodlines. The Bullough family has a long history of success in football at Michigan State University, starting with her brother Max, her father Shane and her grandfather Hank.

She said the name does not put a lot of added pressure on her.

“It seems like it would give a lot of pressure, but actually it doesn’t,” she said. “I’m not trying to beat out my brothers or anything. I’m just trying to make them proud. I just want to represent them, so I just go out and do my best.”

She did admit that the thought of playing football has crossed her mind – at least the fantasy of it.

“I always joke and say I’m going to go out for running back next year, but I have cross country,” she said. “I just think it would be funny if I tried.”

Another two-time winner was Ottawa Lake Whiteford senior Miranda Johnson, who repeated as champion in the long jump and broke her own LP Division 4 record with a leap of 18 feet, 6.5 inches. She added a victory in the 200 in 25.15 seconds.

Jade Madison of New Buffalo swept the throws. She won the discus with a toss of 123-0 and broke the LP Division 4 record in the shot put with a winning effort of 43-8.25. In the other field events, Bethany Kuenzer of Pittsford cleared 11-3 to win the pole vault, while Jessica Tea-Hui of Evart won the high jump at 5-4.

Freshman Jordan Goodman of Mason County Eastern won the 100 in 12.55 seconds, while Savanah Feldpausch of Fowler took the 300 hurdles in 45.42 and Kirsten Olling of Breckenridge finished first in the 3,200 in 11:17.24. Olling won the 3,200 all four years of high school.

The lone relay that was not won by Reading was the 3,200, which was won by Beal City.

Price, the Reading coach, also coached the Rangers in 2001 when they won the MHSAA title for the first time.

“It’s a lot like 2001 – nothing feels as good as a state championship,” she said. “I can’t describe it to anybody until it happens.”

At the same time, Concord – from the same Big 8 Conference as Reading – was celebrating the boys title.

“Two teams from the Big 8 Conference win state championships,” she said. “How cool is that?”

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PHOTO: Reading’s Michelle Davis clears a hurdle Saturday en route to setting Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals records in both hurdles races. (Click to see more from

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.)