Calumet Invite Produces Northern Stars

September 18, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The Calumet Invitational dates back roughly 30 years as an annual staple of the cross country schedule for schools at the northernmost tip of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. 

A creative move by the Copper Kings last year added some statewide prestige to the event. 

Last week, for the second season, Calumet ran the series of races at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge, a resort near Copper Harbor and the northern bank of the Keweenaw Peninsula. 

Calumet is the northernmost high school in Michigan. And moving this race another 35 miles northeast more or less guaranteed it's the northernmost event run in the state. 

"We figured it was pretty safe. We're the northernmost school in the state, and you can only go four more miles and you're in Lake Superior," Calumet athletic director Sean Jacques said. "Nobody else is going to do anything more north than that." 

A total of 10 schools were represented this fall in the races for boys and girls varsity, junior varsity and middle schoolers. 

Jacques said the event formerly was run at a golf course in Calumet. But a few years ago, Calumet graduate and former Copper Kings cross country runner Dan Harri moved home from Florida to become general manager at the Mountain Lodge (he's also a renowned chef and has owned restaurants in Miami with Hall of Fame Dolphins coach Don Shula). 

Harri had asked a few times about bringing a cross country or golf event to the lodge. Jacques told him last year they'd give it a try, so Harri set up a course that includes golf course, a couple of bridges, trails and finishes with a climb on the No. 1 fairway. It also provides various points for fans to watch runners go by, not always available on other courses.

"We were looking for a little bit of a change, and it's a beautiful course," Jacques said. "We thought if people were willing to make the extra drive, it would be really nice."

Calumet won the boys race this season, just ahead of runner-up Houghton. Houghton's girls were victorious, followed by the host Copper Kings. 

Click to read more about this year's event from the Houghton Mining Gazette.  

Michigan's claim to an NFL evolution

As part of its NFL preview this month, Sports Illustrated reported on one of the most significant developments for offenses over the last few decades – the silent snap count, which is used regularly by visiting teams because offensive linemen can’t hear the quarterback calling for the ball over the clamor of the home crowd.

And the article explained that the silent snap count might’ve gotten its start at one of Michigan’s smallest high schools – Flint’s Michigan School for the Deaf.

Offensive linemen during the 1980s were feasted on by pass rushers like Lawrence Taylor and Bruce Smith, who built record sack totals by blasting past blockers who seemed a step slow. Turns out, that was true. Defensive players were getting an edge by attacking as soon as they saw the ball move. But blockers (especially offensive tackles), focused instead on the defensive ends and linebackers lined up across from them, and didn’t have the luxury of watching the ball – and since they also couldn’t hear the snap count, started each play a step behind.  

Enter the silent count. The quarterback signals to the center that he is ready to receive the ball (with a pat on the back, by raising a foot, etc.). The center then raises his head, and after a predetermined count of at least one second snaps the ball without a sound. This means an offensive tackle doesn’t have to listen for a snap count – he just counts after seeing the center get set.

The SI report recognized longtime offensive line coach Howard Mudd as the guru of the silent snap count. But Mudd recalled a conversation he’d had while working for the Seattle Seahawks with another coach, the late Andy MacDonald, who also had coached early in his career at a school for the deaf in Michigan.

The article doesn’t mention Michigan School for the Deaf by name. But it seems to make sense that the Tartars were the first to use the now-revolutionary count. MacDonald – who played at Central Michigan University and went on to coach at Michigan State and four other colleges and also for the Buffalo Bills – grew up in Flint and attended Flint Northern before playing for the Chippewas from 1950-53. The historical web site has results for Flint’s Michigan School for the Deaf dating to 1950, making it a decent assumption that MacDonald might’ve gotten in a little early coaching experience at the school down the road from his home.  

Click for the SI story and go to page 4 for the mention of Michigan’s school.

Michigan mourns trooper, running standout

The law enforcement community is mourning the death of Michigan State Police trooper Paul Butterfield, who was shot Sept. 9 during a traffic stop in Mason County. He also was a well-known distance runner during the 1980s and the MHSAA Class A cross country champion running for Bridgeport in 1987.

According to a Ludington Daily News report, Butterfield continued running after high school at the University of Tennessee, and also competed at the 1989 Pan American Junior Games in Argentina.

Butterfield was stationed in Hart after previously serving in Manistee, and lived in Mason County. He also had served in the U.S. Army. Click to read more from the Ludington Daily News.

PHOTO: Calumet's Chelsea Jacques (right) won this season's Calumet Invitational with a time of 21:08.06, just ahead of Ironwood's Jessica Gering at 21:46.16. (Photo courtesy of Calumet athletic department.)

Unionville-Sebewaing Softball Ties Finals Record with 5th-Straight Championship

By Tom Kendra
Special for

June 15, 2024

EAST LANSING – Leave it to standout senior catcher Gabby Crumm to ensure her school’s spot in the state record books.

Unionville-Sebewaing was doing its thing in Saturday’s Division 4 championship game, slowing pulling away from first-time finalist Holton – until Crumm stepped up to the plate in the fourth inning.

Crumm launched one of her signature shots over the centerfield wall, a two-run homer that keyed a six-run inning for the Patriots, who then cruised to an 11-1 victory in six innings at Secchia Stadium.

It was USA’s fifth straight Finals championship, dating back to pre-COVID in 2019, and tying the record for consecutive titles with Kalamazoo Christian, which won five Division 3 titles in a row from 1996 to 2000.

Emma Monette (9) drives a pitch for the Red Devils. “It’s really bittersweet right now,” said Crumm, a four-year starter at catcher who will play at Saginaw Valley State. “USA softball has meant everything to me, and it’s shaped me in so many different ways.

“I’m sad that it’s over, but it couldn’t have ended in a better way.”

USA, which finished 31-11 and was the top-ranked team in Division 4 entering the postseason, showed its experience in the first inning – getting girls on base and putting the pressure on Holton using two hits and two errors to jump out to a 3-0 lead.

The lead would stay that way until the fourth inning, when USA’s tremendous senior class stepped up and put the game away.

Shortstop Ella Neumann ripped a two-run single, which led the Red Devils to change pitchers. Crumm followed up right after Neumann with her long blast over the centerfield wall to effectively put the game out of reach.

“We struggled a little bit in the beginning, but then we cleaned it up,” said 10th-year Holton coach Kirk Younts, whose team did not have an error after the first inning. “They are a great team, and they know how to hit. We tried to mix up our pitching on them, but it just didn’t work.”

Holton (29-13-1), which was playing in its first softball championship game and looking to win the first softball Finals title for a Muskegon County school, managed just three hits against Patriots sophomore Olivia Greene.

Erin Jubar (6) rounds third base while Holton’s infielders await a throw.Greene fooled the Red Devils all game with her rise ball, striking out 10.

Greene also showed her skills at the plate, ending the game with a shot to right-centerfield which actually hit the top of the fence and bounced back into play. Even though it wasn’t a home run, it scored senior Jenna Gremel to give the Patriots a 10-run lead and clinch the title.

Gremel, who with Crumm was a four-year varsity player and four-time champion, finished with two RBIs. Senior leadoff hitter Rylie Benson was 2-for-3, and Neumann had two hits and two RBIs.

USA coach Marc Reinhardt, who finished his second season as head coach but has been around the program for many years, said it never gets old winning a state championship.

“No, it’s always a thrill,” said Reinhardt, who is assisted by Matt Prime, Tommy Betson and Bree Gordon. “I am so glad that this particular group of seniors was able to go out on top. There will be other talented players coming in, but this was a very special group.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) USA teammates welcome Gabriella Crumm (1) after her home run Saturday at Secchia Stadium. (Middle) Emma Monette (9) drives a pitch for the Red Devils. (Below) Erin Jubar (6) rounds third base while Holton’s infielders await a throw.