None of this week's High 5s honorees knows much about losing. Ann Arbor Pioneer's Drake Johnson is unequaled in his best race, Decatur's Erika Southworth has averaged more than 25 wins pitching each season of high school, and the Remus Chippewa Hills girls track team hasn't lost during the regular season in nearly a decade.
Southworth, a pitcher, is finishing her fourth varsity season after earning all-state honors after all of her previous three. She both won her 100th game and notched her 1,000th career strikeout last week, putting her in the MHSAA record book in both categories. Southworth is 24-3 this season with a 0.83 ERA and 199 strikeouts, and also leads her team with a .448 batting average and 35 RBI. She's signed to play next season at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and is considering a major in business. Decatur is ranked No. 7 in the state coaches Division 4 poll.
Celebrate good times: "My 100th win was at home, and they gave me a picture that said '100 wins.' It's really nice. ... My 1,000th strikeout was at Climax-Scotts, and my teammates were counting down in the dugout. I was batting one inning, and I could hear them whispering. After the strikeout, my catcher called timeout and came out and gave me a hug. Then the umpire (asked what had happened), called timeout, gave the ball to my coach and announced it to everyone on the field."
Commander-in-chief: Southworth is her class' president and has been part of the student council and National Honor Society. "I like being involved with my class. I've gotten to know a lot of people that I wouldn't usually talk to in a regular school day."
I learned the most about pitching from: One of my high school teammates from a couple of years ago (Kelsey Vliek), her dad (Jeff) got me into it. After that, I just played travel ball, and my coach would help. Then I just went to different pitching coaches."
Competing with Cole: Southworth has a fun rivalry with little brother Cole, a freshman wrestler and baseball catcher. "We both take strength and conditioning at school, different hours but we do the same lifts. So we try to beat each other that way. ... This year is the first year I've ever pitched to him. I always told my mom it wasn't a good idea. I'd just aim for his face all the time."
The ball starts here: "I like that I start out every play. The pitcher kinda controls the game, controls the pace of the game. I like knowing where most of the balls are going to be hit. (And) I think it's more of a challenge. I always go for more of the challenging things."
Ann Arbor Pioneer senior
Track and Field
Johnson, who has signed to play football this fall at the University of Michigan, is a two-time MHSAA Division 1 champion in the 110-meter hurdles, and won both that race (14.25) and the 300 hurdles (38.63) at Friday's Division 1 Regional at Saline. He also ran on the second-place and state-qualifying 1,600 relay and on the third-place 800 relay. Johnson owns the Pioneers' record in the 110 hurdles of 13.7 seconds. Last fall as a running back, he was tops in the state with 2,809 yards rushing, sixth in the MHSAA record book for one season. He also is interested in running track at U-M.
Loving both for different reasons: "I like the thrill of football. I love the games, the scoring, the hype around football. Track, it's just the competitiveness of one-on-one. It's your best effort against their best effort."
I learned the most about running from: "I've always had my coaches at Pioneer, and my dad (Michael Johnson) has always been my hurdles coach. If I feel like I'm not running as well as I can, I can say, 'Hey dad,' and he'll say come to the track a couple times and we can fix it."
As a running back, I try to be like: "Not a single person, but a combination of Tyrone Wheatley and Eric Dickerson. Just watching videos with my dad, I got interested in seeing what (Dickerson) ran like. He really was amazing at what he did."
My favorite thing to do that isn't a sport is: "I love watching movies. Any movie I can find. I love the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies, and I love the 'Oceans' (Eleven, Twelve, etc.) movies."
Up next: Johnson will major in philosophy and psychology, and eventually wants to be a psychiatrist. "Just knowing how people think. ... I always tried to see things from other people's points of view. I'm an open-minded person, and (I enjoy) the whole study of trying to see how people think."
Remus Chippewa Hills girls track and field
Heading into last week, the Warriors were riding a 74-dual meet win streak, and edged Mount Pleasant by 1.5 points to win their Division 2 Regional on Friday. Chippewa Hills, competing in the Central State Activities Association tonight, also won its 10th-straight league championship meet Tuesday. Most of the Warriors are underclassmen -- the team has only one senior.
This spring's previous honorees
- Sarah Appold, Saginaw Valley Lutheran softball
- Katie Brozovich, Clarkston tennis
- Sarita Dotson, Battle Creek Lakeview track and field
- Lauren Hooker, East Grand Rapids senior
- Jake McFadden, Clare track and field
- Mike Nagy, Manistique golf
- Cullen Prena, Walled Lake Central track and field
- Nick Stiles, Bath baseball
- Malloy Weber, Northville soccer
- Garret Zuk, White Lake Lakeland track and field
- Detroit Western International baseball
- Grand Rapids West Catholic golf
- Grosse Pointe South girls track and field
- Muskegon Mona Shores golf
- Stevensville Lakeshore softball
The MHSAA and Holly school communities are grieving this week after the sudden loss of Tony Coggins, a shining light in his educational community and an enthusiastic supporter of school sports as a public address announcer for several of our largest championship events.
But while that cheerful tone has been quieted, it surely will not be forgotten by the many fortunate to enjoy an event in the presence of that voice and the joyfulness he brought into every arena, press box and classroom.
Coggins, 51, died Saturday. He is survived by his wife Kristy and children Emma and Bradlee, among several family and friends from his local and greater sports communities.
His career as a PA announcer began during his freshman year of high school in 1985, when his father Dale Coggins – Flushing’s athletic director at the time – couldn’t find anyone else to announce middle school football games. That was 39 years ago, and this fall Tony Coggins was in his 24th announcing at Holly, where he taught and served as an administrator in addition to his role as “Voice of the Holly Bronchos” for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, competitive cheer and swimming & diving over the years.
Coggins has been a mainstay among MHSAA Finals PA announcers over the last decade in football, basketball, softball and most recently volleyball. He lent his voice to college sports at University of Michigan as well. “Tony was a huge part of our Finals events. It’s hard to imagine it being the same without him,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said.
As part of the run-up to the MHSAA public address announcers clinic in 2018, Coggins said this about what drew him to the microphone:
“I have zero athletic ability whatsoever, which is interesting because my father was an all-state running back. But I enjoy being involved, and I've always been the one for history and statistics and knowing what's going on,” Coggins said. “This is a way for me to be involved. It's a way for me to use a talent I've been given; public speaking has always come pretty naturally for me.
“So I worked at my craft to get better. I got better from watching the people around me, from studying the people I like, and the people – if I saw someone I didn’t care for – I'd make a note and say to myself, ‘Don't do that.’ I take feedback from people very personally, and I mean that in a good way. If somebody takes the time to come up and say, ‘You did this well; I think you should change this,’ that means they care about the program also. We all have the same goal in mind, and that's to make the experience good for the high school student and the parents, the fans, that come there.”
Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. John Vianney, 2415 Bagley Street in Flint. There will be visitation from 2-8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Swartz Funeral Home, 1225 West Hill Road, and at the church from 10 a.m. Saturday until the time of the Mass.
The Holly volleyball team played for something bigger tonight
Beloved PA announcer Anthony Coggins died on Friday night from a heart attack
— Brandon Green🍀 (@BGreenReports) October 24, 2023