Standout Leads Corunna in Close Finish

June 1, 2019

By Matt Schoch
Special for Second Half

ZEELAND – It’s essentially an individual sport, but the importance of teamwork was on display Saturday at the MHSAA Division 2 Girls Track & Field Finals at Zeeland Stadium.

Teammates pushed each other to the end with one-two finishes in the 100- and 1,600-meter races, highlighting a day that had a three-and-a-half-hour delay and then another of 45 minutes – with one more delay of more than two hours for good measure.

In the 100, freshman Chaniya Madison of Bridgeport edged teammate Payten Williams, last year’s champion, at 12.41 seconds.

“I was trying to run against her, keep up to her, push her, go harder – and it made me go harder,” Madison said. “It’s exciting. I don’t really feel like it’s real. It feels fake, like a dream come true.”

Holland Christian kept the tradition alive in the 1,600 after Kayla Windemuller won the last three Finals titles.

This time, it was junior Gillian Fiene running a 4:57.05 to top second-place Michelle Kuipers, together keeping the Maroons on top of the podium, both noting their faith in a post-race interview.

“I knew I was running it with God and with Michelle, and to know that I have those two walking right alongside me is just such a great feeling and the most comforting thing in the world,” said Fiene, who moved to Holland Christian this year from a school in Illinois.

Added Kuipers: “I don’t feel the pressure as much (from the program’s past success), just more of excitement just to keep going to see what we can do as a team. Just to see how God has blessed us this year even more.”

The pair also helped Holland Christian to a title in the 1,600 relay at 3:58.40.

However, in the team competition, Corunna carried the day with 54 points, while Holland Christian was second with 49. Rounding out the top five were Zeeland East (37), East Grand Rapids (33), and Bridgeport (31).

Corunna was carried by a standout day from junior Hannah Hollister, who won individual titles in the 300-meter hurdles (44.12) and 200 meters (25.26). She also anchored a 400-meter relay winner in which Corunna (49.56) edged Frankenmuth by one hundredth of a second, coming from behind for the win.

Hollister also took third in the 110 hurdles, won by Marysville’s Kaia Scheffler (14.36).

Hollister said she ran the full slate of events last week at the Regional to prepare for what turned out to be a long day.

“It was kind of hard to bounce back from running the 200 prelims and then 15 minutes later in the 100 hurdles, so I’m happy with how that went,” Hollister said. "At the beginning, it was a little rough with all the nerves and not being able to run our first race, but then after that, it was almost nice and it gave us a longer break.”

Another multiple champ, Adrian sophomore Marr Day’Anna, won the high jump competition at 5 feet, 4 inches, and the long jump at 18-10.25, a Division 2 Finals record.

“I was going for 19 (feet),” Day’Anna said. “But I’m happy that I could jump this and beat the state record. My last couple jumps in my last couple meets were really good, so once I got to state meet, I was just working my way up to this.”

Day’Anna said her second-place finish in the long jump last season served as motivation throughout this spring.

Rounding out the field events, senior Mohogany Wells of Lansing Sexton won the shot put at 42 feet, 8 inches, Zeeland East senior Taylor Waterway won the discus at 135-2 and senior Tricia Pierce of Ortonville Brandon won the pole vault at 12-6.

On the track, senior Jakarri Alven of Grand Rapids Catholic Central won the 400 meters at 57.55 seconds, her third Finals title in four seasons and after missing last season’s championship meet with an injury.

St. Johns junior Taryn Chapko won the 800 at 2:15.14, and Plainwell junior Makenna Veen won the 3,200 at 10:38.35.

Eighth-seeded East Grand Rapids pulled an upset in the 3,200 relay, winning at 9:15.00 to edge top-seeded Holland Christian, which set the meet record last year. Holland Christian took second this year at 9:21.15 after its third runner was hobbled with an injury down the stretch.

Williamston won the 800 relay at 1:43.59.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Corunna's Hannah Hollister clears a hurdle while leading her team to the LP Division 2 championship. (Middle) Holland Christian's Gillian Fiene paces the field on the way to a win. (Photos by Kevin Fowler. Click to see more from

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.)