Warriors Continue Decade of Dominance
May 25, 2012
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Remus Chippewa Hills girls track coach Sally Schafer tells her athletes that each season is a chapter of one book that is the Warriors’ program.
For the last decade, it’s been an award winner – and a best seller as class after class has kept going one of the state’s most impressive runs in any sport.
Chippewa Hills – despite just one senior and seven upperclassmen total – won its 10th-straight league meet last week by once again dominating the Central State Activities Association field. The Warriors also this season pushed their dual meet winning streak to 68, their last loss all the way back on April 25, 2002. And they added a Division 2 Regional championship last week, edging Mount Pleasant by 1.5 points despite being the smallest school in the division.
Track and field can be a sport of highs and lows, especially for a school of Chippewa Hills’ size and the massive effect one or two elite athletes can have. But the Warriors’ consistency makes the run more incredible – over that decade, they competed in four leagues against some schools that were smaller but also many that were much bigger.
“We’ve seen it all,” Schafer said. “We’ve seen Ludington; I remember seem them show up when I was starting coaching, and we hated seeing them getting off the bus, 80 of them. They’d clean you up, get on the bus and leave. And finally, one of the things I said was, 'What are we going to do? What do we need to do to beat them?'
“We were at Regionals one year, and I said we’ve got to figure out how this is done. I was tired of being in the middle of the pack, or on the low end. We sat down and said we have to develop everything across the board – not just be a distance school, or a sprints school. We need to have it all.”
She and her staff have built that machine – which also has allowed the program to annually plug in parts even in seasons like this one.
Most of Schafer’s athletes this spring were still waiting to start kindergarten when the winning streaks began. Of 37 competitors total, there are 26 freshmen. The team also graduated seven significant contributors off last season’s team, including two now competing at the college level.
Still, Chippewa Hills – recipient of this week's Second Half team High 5 – won six events at the Regional. Sophomore Megan O’Neil took first in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. Junior Corey Robison won the discus, and sophomore Erin Drouillard won the pole vault. And O’Neil, and freshmen Emily Starck, Kylie Schafer and Larissa Umbleby won the 3,200 relay by a healthy seven seconds.
The Regional title was the team's fourth in the last five seasons.
“Winning breeds itself, but losing does too. (So) every year we try to continue tradition. We just reload,” Schafer said. “A lot of times we go year to year, but we look at ourselves more as a program. We know what we have coming.”
This season’s success is atypical of a freshman-dominated squad because Warriors freshmen are atypical. While a talented bunch, Chippewa Hills freshmen generally join the high school program with an advanced knowledge of the sport after competing through full junior high schedules and working out alongside and with mentoring from the older athletes during those seventh and eighth grade seasons.
And the veteran coaching staff keeps the gears turning smoothly. Sally Schafer’s father, Don Foreman, was the boys track coach for 28 years, and Sally was a senior on the first girls Regional champion in 1985. She joined the coaching staff in 1993 and took over in 1999, and the coaches from junior high up have mostly remained the same throughout her tenure.
“The boys coaches, the girls coaches, the boys team, the girls team; we really are like one. We work out together sometimes, and it’s a family,” Schafer said. “The kids come in, and they’re not sure what to expect. But by the end, my goal as a coach is to have them only wanting more.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Chippewa Hills freshman Kylie Schafer runs during this season's Alma Invitational. (Middle) Warriors sophomore Megan O'Neil takes a hand-off from teammate Emonee Anderson during the CSAA championship meet at Hesperia. (Below) The Warriors celebrate their 10th-straight league meet championship. (Top and middle photos courtesy of Vickie Starck.)
Multi-Sprint Champ Racing to Finish Huron Career Ahead of the Rest Again
By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com
May 25, 2023
NEW BOSTON – If there was one thing Elizabeth Anderson took pride in elementary school, it was simply showing that she could outrun everyone in sight.
In fact, Anderson has an explanation for all the success she had in those playground races.
“Dominance when you are in elementary school,” Anderson quipped. “I don’t think I ever had a nickname. I just think everyone knew I was fast.”
Years later, pretty much everyone who follows track & field in the state of Michigan can attest to that.
A senior for New Boston Huron, Anderson has been faster than most other competitors in the state during her three-year high school career (with her freshman season in 2020 canceled due to COVID-19).
Last year, Anderson won titles at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals in the 200-meter (25.07) and 400-meter (56.28) dashes, and was runner-up in the 100-meter dash (12.23).
Often, top sprinters focus on one or two of those three races. But Anderson is certainly a different breed of sprinter because she does all three.
In fact, she holds school records in all three of those events, and if all that weren’t enough, Anderson is a part of all three sprint relay teams.
“It is hard to give her events off,” said New Boston Huron head girls track coach Danielle Lobato.
Despite the different styles the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes present, Anderson said there usually isn’t much adjusting when she goes from one of those races to another.
The strategy is simply, “Let’s beat the other girls to the finish line.”
“I don’t really go into each race changing up how I would run,” she said.
While enjoying and succeeding in all three races, Anderson said she actually does have a favorite among them.
“I would say the 400 is probably my favorite,” she said. “Even though it hurts, it’s satisfying to see how much you can get your time down in the 400 compared to any other race.”
Anderson said she started running track in sixth grade, but really got serious about it during the summer after her sophomore season, when she was invited to run for a local club.
Eventually, that led to her competing over the winter in indoor events.
She lived and breathed track so much that last fall, she decided to not run cross country so she could focus on a weightlifting regimen aimed at developing more leg strength.
“Once I started doing summer track, I realized I wanted to be doing this all the time,” she said.
Lobato said oftentimes in practice, Anderson is a de facto coach, given there is no better person she can think of for the younger runners on the team to learn from.
“I can’t always demonstrate these things I’m trying to teach,” she said. “You get to see it in real life (from Anderson), not in a YouTube video.”
After winning the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes at her Regional meet last week, Anderson has her sights set on achieving the same trifecta of titles at next Saturday’s Finals in Grand Rapids.
Anderson has signed to run track at Michigan State, but has been plenty motivated to keep producing this spring in her final high school season.
“I’m really looking to defend my titles,” she said. “That is what is really motivating me to keep going. I want to keep in shape for the college season. I don’t want to lose any of the progress I have made. Ultimately, I just love running track.”
And since elementary school, Anderson has loved — and succeeded in — outrunning everyone else to the finish line.
“We knew we were getting something special,” Lobato said of when Anderson arrived in high school. “But you never expect this. All that she has accomplished is amazing.”
Keith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties
PHOTOS (Top) New Boston Huron's Elizabeth Anderson clears the finish line during last season's LPD2 400 race. (Middle) Anderson, middle, outpaces the field to also win the 200. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)