Redettes Uphold Championship Tradition

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 3, 2017

KINGSFORD — The Marquette girls upheld a proud tradition Saturday, earning their seventh consecutive Upper Peninsula Division 1 track & field championship with 118 points.

Runner-up Negaunee scored 91 and Kingsford placed third at 70.

“Our depth came through,” said Marquette coach Natalie Messano. “We did what we needed to do. We came a long way this year. The team really came together and peaked at the right time. We have a strong tradition.”

Marquette sophomore Ahnika Puskala won the 100-meter hurdles in 16.32 seconds, followed by Iron Mountain’s Olivia Berutti (16.34) and Marquette senior Jacquie Cammarata (16.43).

Cammarata won the 300 hurdles (48.52), followed by classmate Hannah Detmers (49.16) and Escanaba sophomore Courtney Boyle (49.81).

Marquette senior Izzie Peterson added a first in the 100 (12.85) and helped the Redettes take the 400 and 800 relays.

“Delaney (Sall) ran strong today,” said Messano. “I think every one of our girls scored some points, which is huge. We have some seniors whom we’ll miss, but we have a lot of talented girls coming back.”

Sall placed second in the 400 (1:01.16), thrid in the 800 (2:25.73) and anchored the Redettes’ 1,600 relay to a second-place finish (4:23.11).

Negaunee, paced by junior Clara Johnson and freshman Emily Paupore, showed its strength in the distances.

They helped the Miners take the 3,200 relay (10:06.41), and Johnson captured the 800 (2:23.46), 1,600 (5:27.73) and 3,200 (12:02.08).

“Our teammates always give us motivation,” said Johnson. “Every girl on our team helps each other get going. It really got hot for the 3,200 (about 80 degrees). In the beginning you’re layered up, the next thing you know the sun comes out and it gets very warm. When it’s hot, we take a break after each race and go into the shade. We also eat light and stay hydrated.”

Paupore was runner-up in the 800 (2:24.97), 1,600 (5:31.05) and 3,200 (12:05.36).

“Winning the 3,200 relay definitely gets you going,” said Paupore. “It’s a good way to start the day. Everybody on our team is supportive of each other. We just go out as hard as we can. Everybody has to run in the same conditions.”

Kingsford sophomore Olivia Allen finished first in the 200 (26.53) and 400 (59.53) and anchored the winning 1,600 relay (4:12.67).

“I think things went pretty well,” said Allen. “I think we did a good job running our races as if they were our last. I’m still learning how to use my blocks and finish races. This is a motivator for next year. We wanted to push our seniors this year so they could also have good performances in their last meet.”

Escanaba senior Jen Brandt captured her third straight discus title at 123 feet, 6 inches, and was second in shot put (32-3¼), both personal bests.

“I definitely felt the pressure, being a senior,” said Brandt, who will be playing basketball at Alma College next winter. “I threw a personal-best (116-8) in the GNC (Great Northern Conference) meet in Menominee (May 25). At that point, I felt I could threw farther. Coach (Dan DeLong) told me it would be nice if I could get that done. He told me nobody had done that while he has been coaching.

“I think track has really prepared me for college basketball, getting that adrenalin rush and performing on a stage.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Marquette’s Ahnika Puskala, right, and Jacqueline Cammarata charge ahead in the 100 hurdles final; Puskala won the race and Cammarata came in third. (Middle) Negaunee teammates Clara Johnson, front, and Emily Paupore round a corner on the way to taking the top two places in the 1,600. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)

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].net 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.)