KINGSFORD — The St. Ignace girls didn't let anything stand in their way in winning the Upper Peninsula Division 3 track championship Saturday with 121 points.
Two-time defending champion Brimley settled for runner-up honors this time with 57, and third-place Crystal Falls Forest Park scored 47.
St. Ignace senior Sarah Cullip was a triple winner, taking the 800-meter run in 2 minutes, 29.38 seconds, the 1,600 (5:36.43) and 3,200 (12:30.12).
Sophomore teammate Lilly Calcaterra was runner-up in the 800 (2:33.79), third in the 1,600 (5:42.57) and 3,200 (12:55.55) and helped the winning 1,600 relay.
"This wasn't my best time (in the 1,600), but I'm glad to win it as a senior," said Cullip, who plans to run at Grand Valley State University next season. "But I thought Lilly ran well today. She works hard in the summer. I think she's going to be pretty special."
St. Ignace, which captured the D-2 title the past three seasons, scored just two points in the first three events this time. The Saints, however, got on track with a victory in the 400 relay.
Junior Rachel Hetherington, who had a false start in the 100, bounced back to help the winning 800 relay, place third in the 400 (1:04.24) and second in the 200 (27.47).
"We had a few things go wrong early in the meet," said St. Ignace coach Trudy Olsen. "But when Rachel came across (in the 800 relay), I knew we'd be okay. Sarah and Lilly took care of things in the distances. Between the two of them, they scored 50 points which is huge. The girls were supporting each other, and that's what it takes. They were there to pick each other up."
The Saints' 800 relay was clocked at a U.P meet-record 1:51.48, topping the previous best (1:52.31) by Forest Park three years ago.
St. Ignace senior Hailee Brown added a first in the 300 hurdles (49.41) and helped the winning 800 and 1,600 relays.
Brimley freshman Kerri Chartrand was runner-up in the 300 hurdles (49.53). Engadine freshman Aspen Hood, the pre-meet favorite in the hurdles races, didn't run in those due to a knee injury.
"I usually have Aspen there to push me, and the Brimley girl and I are usually neck-and-neck," said Brown, who will attend Lansing Community College this fall. "She beat me in the Regional. I didn't have a good 100 hurdles today. I got ahead of everybody and felt I needed to stay there. I got a little too anxious."
Bark River-Harris senior Sydni Petrie set the U.P. Final discus record (116-1), topping the previous standard (115-7 ¾) by Bark River-Harris’ Kerrie Meyers set in 2009.
Chassell senior Jamie Dompiere won the 400 in a school-record 1:00.62. She also took the 100 (12.83) and 200 (26.38).
"Three-for-three, that's awesome," Dompiere said. "As crazy as this season was, I had a great season. When we finally had our first outdoor meet (at Lake Linden-Hubbell on May 10), it felt like a season opener all over again because we hadn't had a meet since the one at the Superior Dome (in Marquette on April 18). We just had to fight through all the bad weather.
“I ran a good 100 time today. Only, I didn't do as well as in the Copper Country Conference meet (12.38). We had the false start in our heat, and everybody became more cautious. We didn't want to risk it."
PHOTOS: (Top) St. Ignace's Sarah Cullip, here in the 1,600, won that race and both the 800 and 3,200 on Saturday. (Photo by Paul Gerard. Click to see more photo coverage from RunMichigan.com.) (Middle) The St. Ignace girls track and field team poses with its fourth-straight MHSAA championship trophy. (Photo courtesy of St. Ignace High School.)
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.)