Zeeland East Claims Neighborly Title Tilt

June 2, 2018

By Dan D’Addona
Special for Second Half

ZEELAND — It was a battle of familiar opponents in a familiar place with the Lower Peninsula Division 2 girls track & field title on the line.

Zeeland East went toe-to-toe with Ottawa-Kent Conference Green rival Holland Christian on Saturday at Zeeland Stadium — and every point counted.

Led by strong field events and hurdles, the Chix held off the runner-up Maroons by just two points, 64-62.

“Coming into the season, we knew it was a possibility with how close it was. We didn’t think we were losing that many points, and we had Maleigh (Vanderbeek) get hurt and Lia (Maggini) get hurt and Kianna Em transferred, and we had to work for it. But our girls never took it for granted,” Zeeland East coach Josh Vork said. “They knew they had to come out and work. Every day at practice you could see it. They wanted this to be special.”

Detroit Country Day was third (42), followed by Lansing Catholic (40), Dearborn Divine Child (35.5), St. Clair Shores South Lake (23), Corunna (21), Bridgeport (20), Adrian (19) and Battle Creek Harper Creek (19) among the top 10.

It was a strong day for Zeeland East’s Suenomi Norinh. The senior won three events and finished second in a fourth.

Norinh won the high jump at 5-8, edging Divine Child’s Avery Budz (5-7). Zeeland East teammate Sophie Riemersma took fifth (5-5).

Norinh also won the long jump (18-1¾) and the 100-meter hurdles (14.63), taking second in the 300 hurdles (44.91).

“This means the world to us. We have been working so hard for this,” Norinh said. “I am so proud of my teammates. I was going to be really upset if we lost, and I am really, really happy that we won — going out with a bang.”

Divine Child’s Allie Filiatraut won the discus in 136-0, edging the Zeeland East duo of Taylor Waterway (135-0) and Aliyah Boeve (134-1). In the shot put, Whitehall’s Brianna Copley won with a throw of 42-5, holding off Boeve (40-9).

With just five athletes scoring, Holland Christian kept it close until the end of the meet, winning the final relay to close within two points of the Chix.

Holland Christian’s Kayla Windemuller won the 1,600-meter run in a Division 2 meet-record time of 4:49.55.

Windemuller, Mady Vander Zwaag, Michelle Kuipers and Elizabeth Bruxvoort won the 3,200 relay in 9:10.01. Kuipers, Dolly Slenk, Bruxvoort and Vander Zwaag won the 1,600 relay (4:00.09).

Kuipers won the 800 (2:13.49), and Windemuller was fourth (2:14.68).

“Running with these girls, it is just like, ‘We got this.’” Kuipers said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Lansing Catholic sisters Olivia Theis (10:37.08) and Jaden Theis (10:48.52) went 1-2 in the 3,200, finishing ahead of Windemuller (10:58.87).

“It was all about the team,” Windemuller said. “We knew we had a chance at winning, but finishing second and getting a trophy is incredible. I am really happy I could run four events at a high level. I gave everything I had so I could score points for the team.”

Allendale’s Brianna Bredeweg set a Division 2 meet record to win the pole vault in 12-7.

Bridgeport’s Payten Williams won the 100 meters (12.06) and 200 (24.73).
Country Day’s Jasmine Powell, Taylor Aibana, Ahvon Mitchell and Alexis Officer won the 800 relay (1:45.10). The same quartet won the 400 relay in 49.14.

Ludington’s Emma Fountain won the 400 meters in 57.49.

Harper Creek’s Arabia Bacon won the 300 hurdles in 44.74, ahead of Norinh (44.91).

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Zeeland East's girls pose with their championship trophy Saturday after winning the LPD2 title. (Middle) Lansing Catholic's Jaden Theis (1), Olivia Theis (2) and Holland Christian's Kayla Windemuller (3) set the pace. (Photos by Janina Pollatz. Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)

Finals Title Next Step for Versatile Swan Valley Record-Breaker Kuhn

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

May 22, 2024

Sydney Kuhn’s habit for smashing school records at Saginaw Swan Valley has forced the track & field program to start taking cost-cutting measures.

Bay & Thumb“We stopped changing out the records on our record board,” Swan Valley coach Dave Dawson said. “We just figured she has another year and she’ll break it again, so we figured we’re going to save money this way.”

Kuhn, a junior, owns the school records in the 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 meters. She also has the program record in 60 meters, an indoor track event. She’s run the school’s second-fastest 300 hurdles time, and one of the top five 100-meter times. The 1,600-meter relay team she’s part of with Mackenzie Morgan, Grace Spear and Mackenzie Powell is close to setting a record, as well, and has qualified for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals on June 1.

“Her ninth-grade year, everybody knew, depending on what happens and her attitude, they knew she could be something special. There was potential there,” Dawson said. “Lauren Huebner, she graduated in 2016 and went to SVSU and was a two-time Division II national champion, she had eight records on the board. Sydney feeds off that. Especially now that Lauren is helping coach, she’s definitely been pivotal in this.”

Kuhn qualified for the Finals in the three events she ran at last week’s Regional: the 200, 400 and 1,600 relay. She will be the No. 1 seed in the 400, and has run the fastest time in the state regardless of division, at 55.11 seconds. She’s the No. 2 seed in the 200, where her personal best of 24.89 is the fifth-fastest time in the state this year, regardless of division. She finished third and sixth, respectively, at the Finals in the events a year ago.

“I feel good,” Kuhn said. “I’m just getting ready. It’s been a good year, it’s been going smoothly. The 400 looks pretty good, and the 200 there will be some good competition. Freshman year, I got fifth, then third (as a sophomore) in the 400, so hopefully this year is first.”

She did not run the 800 at the Regional, as it was decided it was too close in the meet order to her other events. She’s run 2:12.75 in the event, the fourth-fastest time recorded in the state this season.

That could be where she has the most potential, however, as it’s a race she had never run competitively until her sophomore season. The first time she ran it in a varsity meet, she recorded a 2:21, setting the school record.

Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth.“(Coach) Andrew Wendler put a bug in her ear, ‘If you’re running this fast in the 400, think of what your 800 would be,’” Dawson said. “She says, ‘Yeah, I’ll try it.’ So, in one of our first conference meets, she ran against a girl that’s pretty good in the 800 and we just said to follow her – stick with her and see what you can do. With 200 meters left, she just took off and broke the school record the first time she ran it.”

A year later, they tried the same thing with the 1,600. And again, Kuhn responded by running 5:12.73 in her first try, setting the school record. She’s since run 5:06.45.

“The first time I ran the 800, I ran against Mary Richmond from Frankenmuth who is really fast, and I sort of paced behind her the first 400, then the last 300 I took off. Same thing with the 1,600. I felt like staying behind her, I wasn’t really racing, so I could just go, I thought.”

Richmond is a three-time all-state finisher in both the 1,600 and the 3,200, as well as a four-time all-state cross country runner. 

With Kuhn’s instant success in every race she’s tried, the logical next question is, what about the 3,200?

“My coach mentioned that,” Kuhn said with a laugh. “But I usually just shake my head. You never know.”

There is a real question, however, about what event, or events, Kuhn is best suited for moving forward. She said that she would like to shift some focus to the 800 for her senior year, and several college coaches who have been in contact with her have indicated that’s where she could land.

“The pattern typically is they would probably turn her into a half-miler or a miler,” Dawson said. “Some college coaches want her for the heptathlon with her hurdle experience, and she is not a stranger to the weight room. That’s the fun part about this, she tries something and it’s usually pretty fun. It’s usually a positive experience.”

Kuhn is ready for whatever is thrown at her.

“They’re mostly like 800, 1,500, those types of races,” she said. “Some of them just say whatever you like best. One coach mentioned the steeplechase – I don’t know about that. One coach did mention (heptathlon). I’d be open to whatever is best.”

While she’s taken some unofficial visits, she said she’s in no hurry to choose a college. Her focus remains on winning a Finals title at Swan Valley, and a series of times she’s set as goals for herself: 24.4, 54.9, 2:09.9, 4:59.9.

They’re all saved on her phone screen, where they’re easy to change as she reaches them. And at no cost.

“Every time I look at my phone, I see the times I want to get,” she said. “I’ve changed my screen saver a lot when I do break it.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Saginaw Swan Valley’s Sydney Kuhn runs toward the finish during the Korf/Schultz Saginaw County Invitational on May 10 at Hemlock. (Middle) Kuhn anchors a relay during the Tri-Valley Conference Red meet May 8 at Frankenmuth. (Photos by Eagle Eye Photography.)