Record Highlights Pioneer Title Chase

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

June 3, 2017

EAST KENTWOOD – The afternoon running finals of the Division 1 Girls Track & Field Finals needed just 13.4 seconds Saturday afternoon to become record breaking.

Ann Arbor Pioneer junior Britten Bowen won the 100-meter hurdles in 13.40 seconds, setting the meet and all-Finals records (formerly set by Pioneer star Candice Davis in 2003), edging White Lake Lakeland’s Grace Stark, who also had beaten that former record time only a week ago.

“My coach (Bryan Westfield) passed away two years ago, and I lost it indoors, and I was trying to bring it back for him,” an emotional Bowen said. “I trained really, really hard this year for this. I wanted to leave it all on the track.”

Bowen’s hurdles title was one of three championships for the Pioneers, who claimed their first MHSAA Finals team title since 2008 by edging three-time defending champion Oak Park. Pioneer finished with 69 points, four ahead of Oak Park. East Kentwood was third on its home track, finishing with 57 points. 

It was the 17th team title for the Pioneers, the previous 16 coming under Westfield.

“The kids really, really rallied, and I can’t believe we did this,” Pioneer coach Nancy Boudreau said. “We had a lot of kids that were nicked up, and we had to make substitutions at the last minute, and we still pulled it off, which is really unbelievable.”

Bowen’s record-breaking performance wasn’t Pioneer’s first of the day, as Anne Forsyth, Elizabeth Kos, Sydney Dawes and Jacalyn Overdier won the 3,200-meter relay with a time of 9:06.13 in the morning session. The Pioneers won despite having to scratch all-state 800-meter runner Alice Hill prior to the race.

Forsyth was a double winner on the day, finishing first in the 1,600 in 4:43.84.

Bowen’s race was a big boost, however, energizing the team as the main portion of the meet began. It was a much-anticipated race, as her and Stark were lined up next to each other.

“It pushed me even harder,” Bowen said of racing next to Stark. “She beat me during indoors, and that was all I was focusing on: ‘I just need to run my race. I know what I need to do. She’s going to do what she’s going to do, and it’s going to be a race.’ And that’s what it was. And that’s what people have been talking about all year, so that’s what we did: we gave them a race.”

Bowen’s record-breaking performance was one of three on the day in the girls meet. Angelica Floyd of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley set the Division 1 meet record in the long jump with a distance of 19 feet, 3¾ inches.

Kyanna Evans of Wyandotte Roosevelt set the Division 1 meet record winning the 300 hurdles in 42.64 seconds. Evans said it was her first time breaking 45 in the race.

“I didn’t think I could do it, I really didn’t,” Evans said. “I’ve been struggling to break 45 for so long. I just went out and sprinted and did what I needed to do. I just told myself I was going to go 100 percent. It’s my last time running the 300-meter hurdles.”

Tamea McKelvy did her part for runner-up Oak Park, winning three titles, including an individual in 200 meters. She crossed the line in 24.14 seconds, and talked through tears of joy following the race.

“My first individual state championship. I’m so happy,” McKelvy said. “It was my last time wearing this uniform, and I wanted to get that fourth straight win for my team. I’ve been thinking about this since last season when I lost.”

McKelvy joined Janae Barksdale and Aasia Laurencin on both the 400 and 800 relay teams. Kirin Tate joined that trio on the winning 400 relay (46.69), while Carlita Taylor was the fourth member of the 800 relay (1:38.38). 

Oak Park’s 1,600 relay also brought home the gold, as Taylor, Drew Coleman, Makayla Gate and Miyah Brooks won in 3:49.73.

Flushing’s Breanna Perry won her second MHSAA title in three months by taking first in the high jump at 5-foot-7. Perry was a crucial part of Flushing’s Class A girls basketball championship team.

“It was really fun to win with my team, but I just wanted to be able to go home and be like, ‘I worked hard on this on my own and with my coach,’” Perry said. “This is something I can call mine. This is my championship, so it feels pretty good.”

Greenville’s Landon Kemp repeated in the pole vault, clearing 13-3, one inch shy of her record-setting performance from a year ago. 

Corrine Jemison of East Kentwood won the discus with a throw of 151 feet, while Aniya Davis of Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills won the shot put with a throw of 40-10½.

Anavia Battle of Wayne Memorial won the 100 meters in 11.95. Taylor Manson of East Lansing won the 400 meters in 53.21. Mallory Barrett of Milford won the 800 in 2:11.06. Maggie Farrell of Battle Creek Lakeview won the 3,200 meters in 10:19.99.

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PHOTO: Ann Arbor Pioneer's Britten Bowen, center, sets an MHSAA hurdles record Saturday while pushed by a strong field including Lakeland's Grace Stark, right. (Photo by Carter Sherline/ 

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.)