St Ignace Returns to D2 Title Height

By John Vrancic
Special for

June 4, 2017

KINGSFORD — The St. Ignace girls returned to familiar territory Saturday, earning their first Upper Peninsula Division 2 track title in three years with 110 points.

Munising took runner-up honors at 102, and two-time defending champion Ishpeming took third this time with 91.

“We have a great group of girls who work well together,” said St. Ignace coach Trudy Olsen. “They came here hungry. They wanted to regain the title. They did amazing. It’s all about them.”

Prior to 2015, the Saints were crowned champions five years in a row, including a Division 3 title in 2013.

St. Ignace junior Linnee Gustafson matched the meet record in high jump at 5 feet, 4 inches, which she shares with Nicole Vanderlin of Norway from 2011 and 2012.

Gustafson’s winning leap also set a school record, an inch higher than her previous best (5-3) from this year’s Regional meet on May 19.

“I’m excited,” she said. "Today my steps felt perfect. It was a relief to set the school record in the Regional. Now I’m mostly competing with myself.”

Sophomore teammate Emily Coveyou anchored the winning 1,600 relay, clocked at a season-best 4:23.12, and placed second in the 200 (27.86) and 400 (1:01.70)

“It feels good to get the title back.” said Coveyou. “We felt we had a pretty good chance coming in. I think this gives us motivation for next year.”

Classmate Libby Becker held off Iron River West Iron County senior Emmy Kinner for the 800 title. Becker was clocked at 2:27.19, followed by Kinner in a school-record 2:28.02.

“This is very, very, very exciting,” said Becker. “I heard her coming behind me. I was feeling a little pressure, but I turned that pressure into energy. The 800 is a very tough race. The last 200 meters is the most challenging. You get tired, but have to find a way to overcome that.”

Munising senior Michaela Peramaki, who will continue her track & field career at Central Michigan University, won pole vault (8-6), long jump (15-8¾) and the 100 (12.79), the last ahead of Kinner – who had won the 100, 200 and 400 the last two years.

“I had never beaten her (Kinner) before,” said Peramaki. “I did not expect that. I knew if I was going to beat Emmy, I needed a good start and I executed that. In long jump, I didn’t jump as far as I usually do, but it still went well. I want to thank my parents (Matt and Ann) for giving me the God-given talent and all the encouragement they gave me. They have helped me so much.”

St. Ignace senior Alysse Bentley, who was runner-up in pole vault at 8-0, described what it was like to jump with Peramaki.

“It’s good competition,” she said. “I knew I was seeded second and just wanted to finish as high as I was seeded. I was impressed with how hard she runs and her swing up. You can tell she puts a lot of time into it.”

Freshman Madeleine Peramaki (Michaela’s sister) won the 1,600 (5:38.69) and 3,200 (12:58.11) and placed third in the 800 (2:32.13). Junior teammate Alyssa Webber was runner-up in the 3,200 (13:17.80) and third in the 1,600 (5:50.41).

Ishpeming’s Marissa Maino swept the weight events, taking shot put (36-6¼) and discus (108-9½).

Kinner set a meet record in the 400 (59.18), topping the previous (1:00.30) by Kara Dale of Ishpeming in 2010. She also won the 200 (27.25) and was runner-up  in the 100 (12.87).

“This is the first time breaking a minute in the 400, and having all the competition helped me get the school record in the 800,” she said. “I was in lane 2 in the 100, which makes it tough because you’re not next to the fastest runners. Breaking a minute in the 400 is something I really wanted to do, and I had a good day for it.”

Kinner then described how her track career began.

“When I was in eighth grade, I ran track to get out of school,” she said. “Mrs. B (coach Kristi Berutti) saw me running and wanted me to run against some of the high school runners. She believed in me and convinced me to come out. At first I didn’t like it, but it grew on me.”

Newberry senior Taylor Bryant captured the 100 hurdles (16.56) and 300 (49.18), helped the Indians take second in the 800 relay (1:54.40) and placed third in the 100 dash (13.52).

“My starts were okay,” said Bryant. “It felt good coming out in the hurdles. My start could have been a little better in the 100 dash, but it still went all right.”

Ishpeming’s Katie Loman took second in the 100 hurdles (17.07) and 300 (49.33) and anchored the winning 800 relay (1:53.77).

Click for full results.

PHOTO: (Top) St. Ignace's Linnee Gustafson pushes the pace during the 800 relay. (Middle) Newberry’s Taylor Bryant breaks away on the way to winning the 100 hurdles. (Photo 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] 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.)