Speedy Pair Help Negaunee Pass Rival

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

June 2, 2018

KINGSFORD — Sophomore Emily Paupore and senior Clara Johnson provided the Negaunee girls with a potent 1-2 punch in the distance races Saturday, helping them earn their first Upper Peninsula Division 1 track title in eight years with 115 points.

With the win, the Miners also broke the seven-season championship streak for Marquette, which came in second this time with 89½ points. Kingsford was third with 84.

“This was a very exciting day,” said Negaunee coach Vickie Paupore. “At the beginning of the season we knew this was a special group of girls, and our seniors were excellent leaders and role models. They fought real hard. It was exciting to see Emily and Clara go 1-2 those races. It’s so inspiring to see the way they care about each other.”

Emily Paupore and Johnson helped the Miners open with a victory in the 3,200-meter relay in 10 minutes, 4.56 seconds. Paupore then captured the 800 (2:23.7), 1,600 (5:15.23) and set the U.P. meet record in the 3,200 (11:25.52), shaving 86 hundredths of a second off the previous record by Marquette’s Lindsey Rudden (11:26.38) in 2013.

“I’ll take anything if it’s a U.P. record,” said Emily, who also owns the school record in the 3,200 (11:11). “Being my fourth race, I knew it’d be tough.

“The past two years I’ve had so much support from Clara. It’s really sad to see she’s going.

“I always get butterflies before a race, which probably helped me in the 800. You can always build off that energy. I’m going to keep myself busy this summer with weight training and local road races to get ready for cross country. I love cross country. That’s my favorite.”

Johnson, who plans to play basketball at Michigan Tech next winter, was runner-up in the 800 (2:24.44), 1,600 (5:16.7) and 3,200 (12:01), all in personal-best times.

“It was nice having somebody to train with the last two years,” said Johnson, who like Paupore was nearly overcome with emotion after their last high school race together. “There was a lot of pressure being the second seed because I knew there would be a lot of people coming after me. I did what I had to do to get second. I PRd, which is what you hope to do at the Finals, especially with this being my last one. In my junior year, I led Emily and pushed her to get better. This year she led and pushed me to get better.”

Sophomore Chloe Norman, also part of the winning 3,200 relay, added a first in the 300 hurdles (47.78), second in high jump (4-8) and third in long jump (15-2½).

“Last year we set our school record in the 3,200 relay (9:46.91),” said Norman. “This time we just wanted to get a good place and conserve energy for other events.”

Marquette’s Rachel Hunt won long jump (15-2½), edging Houghton junior Anabel Needham by a half-inch. Hunt also helped the winning 800 relay (1:49.2) and was runner-up in the 200 (27.35).

Kingsford junior Olivia Allen took the 100 (13.09), retained her 200 (27.07) and 400 (59.51) titles and helped the Flivvers repeat as 1,600-meter relay champions (4:19).

“I’ve been working pretty hard on my starts, and I think I had one of my best starts in the 100,” said Allen. “It wasn’t perfect, but it gives me something to work on for next year.

“We had a great bunch of seniors who helped us so much. The weather was definitely on our side today. The breeze helped cool us off a little on the back stretch.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Negaunee’s Emily Paupore checks to make sure teammate Clara Johnson will finish second to her in a race Saturday; they came in first and second, respectively, in three events. (Middle) Kingsford’s Olivia Allen breaks across the line first in the 100-meter dash. (Photos by Cara Kamps. Click for more at RunMichigan.com.)

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

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)