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/ 

Elk Rapids' Schulte Sisters Splitting Finals Weekend Between Tennis, Track

By Tom Spencer
Special for

June 2, 2023

Today began with a bye for Elk Rapids’ Jaida and Brynne Schulte as the Elks returned to the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Girls Tennis Finals in Kalamazoo.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThey’re planning to say bye to their tennis teammates, though, when the first day of competition is over. The Elks will have to advance to Saturday without them.

That goodbye is just fine with tennis coach Keith Schulte. And, it will be more than fine with the Elk Rapids track & field team – which will be happy to say hello to the sister pair as they head to their LPD3 Finals in Kent City.

Regardless of how they fare today, the Schulte sisters will run Saturday.

Coach Schulte, who teaches strength and conditioning at Elk Rapids, is also the father of Jaida and Brynne. Today’s he’s beaming with pride, and not just for his tennis team’s success. He’s proud of all the student-athletes and their successes this spring, including the girls soccer team moving on to Regionals with a 2-0 win Thursday over Boyne City.

And while all this is going on, he should have a moment or two to just be Dad. Jaida and Brynne teamed up to win the No. 2 doubles title at their Regional as the Elks tied for first place with Traverse City St. Francis two weeks ago. Then the Schulte girls captured first place in the Regional track meet to qualify for Saturday’s Finals. Brynne won the 1,600 and 3,200, and Jaida’s 3,200 relay team took first to move on.

Brynne Schulte sets to start a track relay. Coach Schulte hasn’t had much time to pause and soak in the moment of his daughters’ qualifying for two Finals competitions during the same season.

“I didn’t think much of it until now,” the fourth-year coach said. “I’ve always just challenged my kids to do something difficult and not be scared to fail.  

“They’ve just kind of found the balance on making this stuff happen,” he continued. “It is a pretty cool opportunity if you can go to two state championships.”

Getting to today’s Tennis Finals is a story full of success. The Elks’ first year under Schulte was halted after a week of practice due to the pandemic. The second year saw the team looking at a season with just nine potential players, but recruitment efforts resulted in the 2021 Elks managing to qualify for the  Finals for the first time in their history.

Elk Rapids went on to win the Regional championship in 2022. And then, after graduating six athletes, the Elks were able to repeat this spring with a valiant effort resulting in the co-championship with their conference rival St. Francis.

Dual-sport standouts, while rare, aren’t entirely unheard of – especially at the state’s smaller schools where athletes frequently are needed to fill rosters in multiple sports during the same season. In fact, the Schultes aren’t even alone on their tennis team – sisters Ryleigh and Haleigh Yocum also are playing doubles today but softball on Saturday.

The Yocums won the Regional title at No. 2 doubles and also are slated to be the Elks’ first two batters as they take on Mancelona as one of the favorites to win a Division 3 District title on the softball diamond.

“I do feel bad for them – it’s states,” said 14-year veteran softball coach Erin Merchant. “I do want them to have that opportunity. 

“I hope they go far,” she continued. “But then deep down, I’m like, ‘We need them Saturday.’”

Tim Nance and Jesse Way are in their first year co-coaching the boys and girls track teams at ER. They’re pleased the Schultes are prioritizing track while enjoying tennis.

he Schultes helped the Elks to their first two Regional titles in tennis, including their second straight this spring.“I think it is remarkable how resilient, laid back and casual the girls are about their success,” Nance said. “I would say it hasn’t compromised their talent, hard work and success.

“I think it has worked out great,” he continued. “I am selfish and I want them to myself only, but I am happy they can have two successes.”

The Elks will have Ayva Johnstone at No. 1 singles, Kelly Minidis and No. 2, Morgan Bergquist at No. 3 and Jasmine King at No. 4 this weekend. They also will have No. 1 doubles Chloe Taylor and Caroline Best and No. 4 doubles Tessa Nico and Portia Beebe, in addition to the Yokums and Schultes.

Jaida Schulte is a junior. She’s one of the recruits who joined to help the Elks get to their first Tennis Finals in 2021. Bergquist and Beebe were recruits in 2022.

Tennis is the favorite sport today for those three, but track and cross country are right up there for Jaida thanks to the opportunity to run with her freshman sister Brynne.

Jaida is hoping to at least match her personal-record split of 2:36 in the 3,200 relay Saturday. But her goal was first to win all of her doubles matches Friday and see the tennis team finish top-five in its division.

“Brynne loves track, and I love the challenge of running,” Jaida said. “I don’t think I would have the experience of running track or cross country without Brynne.”

Coaches saw very little disruption, if any, with their track, softball and tennis teams this spring with the Yocums and Schultes dual-sporting. The Schultes were able to get track and tennis practice or competition most every day.

“I prioritized track,” Brynne said.  “I also got a lot of hitting time in for tennis.

“I would go to track practice first, and as soon as I would be done I would run over to the tennis courts and hit with my sister for a half an hour before going home,” she continued. “It has been worth it.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Elk Rapids sisters Brynne (left) and Jaida Schulte have teamed up at No. 3 doubles for the tennis team this season. (Middle) Brynne Schulte sets to start a track relay. (Below) The Schultes helped the Elks to their first two Regional titles in tennis, including their second straight this spring. (Photos courtesy of Jaclyn Schulte.)