10 to Remember: Winter 2014-15

April 2, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

As one might imagine, six straight weekends of MHSAA Finals produce enough highlights to distract us from our seemingly endless Michigan winters. 

As explained to preface “10 to Remember” many times before, all championships are lifetime memories for those who achieved them. Those listed below are just one person’s thoughts on which moments from this season will continue to be discussed most in the seasons to come. 

10. Brother Rice Rides Team Effort to Repeat

Birmingham Brother Rice repeated as Lower Peninsula Division 1 swimming and diving champion, and did so by winning by more than 100 points for the second consecutive season. But what made this Warriors finish so impressive was that it didn’t include a single individual championship – they won the opening and closing relays of the meet and took seven second-place individual finishes along the way.

9. Kearsley Sweeps Bowling Championships … Again

Flint Kearsley varsity bowlers are guaranteed one other title this season – MHSAA champions. Both the girls and boys teams won team titles in Division 2, just as they had in 2014. The Kearsley girls again defeated Bay City Western in the championship match, this time by a mere 30 pins, 1,242-1,212. The Kearsley boys also earned their title by defeating Bay City Western, and by only seven pins – 1,351-1,344.

8. Rockford/Sparta Owns the Weekend

Rockford hosted the MHSAA Gymnastics Finals, making the cliché “bringing home the title” a short trip – twice. The Rams, a co-op with Sparta, won the team competition by 1.750 points over reigning champion Canton; Rockford’s only other MHSAA gymnastics championship also was the first in any sport in school history, in the Lower Peninsula in 1989. Juniors Madi Myers and Morgan Korf led the effort with the third and fourth-highest all-around scores of the Team Final – and Korf came back the next day with a stunning move to take the Division 1 individual championship. She had finished 18th in Division 1 as a sophomore.

7. Breckenridge Returns to Cheer Elite

In its second season back as a competitive program, Breckenridge added to its stature as one of the most powerful competitive cheer programs in MHSAA history by claiming the Division 4 championship by nearly 24 points over runner-up Pewamo-Westphalia. Breckenridge has won eight MHSAA titles in cheer, but didn’t have a team for six seasons because of low participation until bringing back the program for 2013-14.

6. Cowboys Lasso First Basketball Title

First Detroit Western International won its first Detroit Public School League championship since 1922. Then it made its first MHSAA Semifinals since 1974. The Cowboys capped this season with its first MHSAA Final victory, a nail-biter 62-59 over Saginaw Arthur Hill in Class A. Western also defeated Detroit Catholic League A-B champion Detroit U-D Jesuit in the Semifinal, and finished the season 26-0.

5. Calumet Ends Long Journey

No team traveled farther to the MHSAA Basketball Finals than the Calumet girls – and it can be argued that no team came from farther away in expectation to become an MHSAA champion. The unranked Copper Kings traveled more than 500 miles to arrive at the Breslin Center, then defeated top-ranked Laingsburg in a Class C Semifinal and perennial power Flint Hamady in the championship game to claim its first MHSAA title in the sport.

4. Skatzka, Olson Become Latest of the Greatest

Richmond’s Devin Skatzka and Davison’s Lincoln Olson pushed the list of MHSAA four-time individual champions to 21 by finishing their careers with big victories. Olson actually was the 20th, winning his match at 135 pounds by technical fall in Division 1. Skatzka then became No. 21 with four MHSAA titles, with a technical fall in the 160-pound match in Division 3.

3. Brighton Claims First Title in Final Match

Few Finals in any sport this winter carried the drama of Brighton’s 31-25 win over Hartland in Division 1 wrestling. Bulldogs 112-pounder Lee Grabowski entered the final match carrying his team’s three-point lead but facing the scenario that if he lost even by decision, and the team score went to 28-28, Brighton would lose the tie-breaker. Oh, and Grabowski was facing an opponent he’d lost to twice in league competition earlier in the winter. Grabowski won a 4-2 decision this time, and Brighton won its first team title.

2. Godwin Heights, Powers North Central Cap 3-Season Surges

Wyoming Godwin Heights and Powers North Central made the MHSAA record book by adding to a pair of the most successful three-season runs in boys basketball history – and capping them with championships. Godwin Heights won its first MHSAA title, downing Detroit Henry Ford 85-68 in the Class B Final, to finish the last three seasons a combined 74-5. North Central, meanwhile, downed Morenci 67-47 in Class D to win its first title since 1984 and cap a three-season 75-5 run.

1. Record Comeback Sends Saints Home as Champs

St. Ignace trailed undefeated Pittsford by 20 points two minutes into the Class D Final when it launched a comeback equaled by only one other team in MHSAA girls basketball history. The Saints tied the score with 35 seconds to play in regulation and continued the rally in the extra period to claim a 64-60 title-clinching victory. Detroit Cass Tech, in the 1987 Class A Final, also had come back from 20 down in the third quarter to win. The championship was St. Ignace’s fifth in girls basketball.

PHOTO: St. Ignace basketball players celebrate after the Saints tied the largest comeback in MHSAA Finals history on the way to claiming the Class D title. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.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.)