Sports Briefs: Area newspaper names J-L’s Courterier top high jumper in region
TRAVERSE CITY – The Traverse City Record-Eagle selected Johannesburg-Lewiston senior high jumper Ashley Courterier to its 2014 All-Region Girls Track Team.
The newspaper gave her the honor after she finished fourth in the MHSAA Division 4 state final (5-3), second in the D4 regional (5-1) and first in the Ski Valley Conference Championship (5-1).
Courterier, who graduated from J-L in June, joins the Saginaw Valley State University women's track and field team this fall, continuing her career as a jumper at the Division II level in college.
Five Otsego County standouts qualify for D4 track State Final
MARION – Five track and field standouts will represent Otsego County in the 2014 MHSAA Division 4 State Final on May 31 in Hudsonville.
St. Mary junior Jacquelyn Harbin won the 100-meter dash (13.87) to become an individual champion and help the Snowbirds’ girls’ team finish 11th in the D4 Regional hosted by Marion on Saturday.
Johannesburg-Lewiston sophomore Savannah Walter and seniors Shannon Kievit and Ashley Courterier, competing in the same Regional, also qualified for the Final, while the Cardinals placed fourth. It’s the fourth time the two seniors will compete in a Final.
Walter placed second in pole vault (7-0) and Courtier took second in high jump (5-01) for each to qualify in their respective events.
Kievit finished second in long jump (15-05.75) and fourth in 400 meters (1:02.92) to qualify in two events.
Also placing for J-L, junior Brianne Kennedy took third in 100 hurdles (18.35), and freshman
Marion won the Regional (117 points), followed by Evart (98.1), McBain Northern Michigan Christian (86), J-L (59.6), and Indian River Inland Lakes (56).
J-L freshman Mike Courtier also was an individual champion. He won the pole vault (10-10) and was the only area boy to qualify for the Final, despite the Cardinals finishing sixth in the Regional.
Also placing for J-L, senior Cameron Nickert finished third in long jump (19-00.5) and fourth in high jump (5-09), freshman Dominic Cassisi took fourth in 400 meters (55.93), sophomore Ethan May finished fifth in 200 meters (25.24), and sophomore Dale Wells placed sixth in discus (118-01).
St. Mary senior Nick Harrington placed second in 100 meters (12.00), senior Adam Makarewicz took sixth in 1,600 meters (4:55.30) and sophomore Levi Milan was sixth in 400 meters (56.43), as the Snowbirds finished 12th overall.
Evart (134) won the boys’ Regional, followed by Marion (96), Inland Lakes (91), and Fairview and Lincoln Alcona (45).
Johannesburg-Lewiston, St. Mary compete in Central Lake track invitational
CENTRAL LAKE – The Johannesburg-Lewiston and Gaylord St. Mary track and field teams competed in the Central Lake Invitational on Monday.
The J-L boys' team placed third (57 points) after Mesick (86) and Mancelona (76.60), while St. Mary placed 14th (7).
J-L sophomore Ethan May finished third in both 100-meter dash (11.87) and 200 meters (24.24), sophomore Dale Wells placed third in shot put (37-0) and fifth in discus (107-02), and junior Tyler Ehrler took 10th in 200 (25.81) and 16th in 100 (12.70).
Also for J-L, Cameron Nickert took second in high jump (5-6), freshman Dominic Cassisi placed fifth in 400 (55.79), and senior Dillon Cushman finished 11th in long jump (16-01.25).
A team of Nickert, Cushman, Cassisi, and May placed third in 1,600 relay (3:46.22), a team of Cassisi, Ehrler, Cushman, and Mike Courterier took third in 800 relay (1:40.74), and a team of Cushman, Cassisi, May, and Grant Miller finished third in 400 relay (47.04).
St. Mary senior Adam Makarewicz finished fifth in 1,600 run (5:07.43), Matt Makarewicz took 10th in 110 hurdles (22.97), 13th in 300 hurdles (55.53) and 19th in discus (87-08), freshman Ian Milan placed 19th in long jump (13-0) and 29th in 800 (2:48.65), and freshman Joey Pandy finished 20th in long jump (12-07.5) and 25th in 200 (30.33).
Also for St. Mary, sophomore Levi Milan placed eighth in 400 (58.46), senior Charles Strehl took ninth in high jump (5-0), freshman Eli Datema took 22nd in 200 (29.23), and sophomore Harris Van Pate placed 31st in 800 (2:58.48).
The J-L girls' team tied for sixth (41) with Central Lake at the invitational, St. Mary placed 11th (20), while Bellaire (114) was the champion.
J-L senior Ashley Courterier placed second in high jump (5-0), seventh in long jump (14-03) and ninth in 200 meters (29.91), freshman Taylor Kroll finished fourth in shot put (27-02) and seventh in discus (70-03), junior Sarah Hofer took fifth in shot put (26-03) and sixth in discus (73-05), and freshman Chelsea Ramage placed ninth in shot put (25-04.75), 12th in 300 hurdles (58.56) and 16th in discus (60-03).
Sophomore Kate Heidman finished eighth in 100 meters (14.39) and 13th in 200 meters (30.95), sophomore Savannah Walter placed 15th in 100 meters (14.71) and 17th in 200 meters (32.32), senior McKenzie Mathewson finished 10th in 100 hurdles (19.50), and junior Brianne Kennedy took fifth in 100 hurdles (18.44) and 11th in 300 hurdles (57.69).
Senior Hailey Weaver finished ninth in 400 meters (1:09.75) and 14th in 1,600 run (6:20.92), sophomore Kelsey Cherwinski placed 14th in 800 meters (2:48.25) and 16th in 1,600 run (6:26.47), and senior Chloe Johnston finished 11th in both 800 run (2:45.55) and 3,200 run (14:14.49).
Also for J-L, senior Shannon Kievit placed eighth in long jump (13-11.50), Kristin McCormick was 14th in high jump (4-0), freshman Chelsea McKinstry took 12th in long jump (12-11.5), junior Rachel Baker finished 19th in 100 hurdles (21.59), Brooke Keen placed 29th in 100 meters (17.07), freshman Samantha Hipsher took 25th in 1,600 run (7:28.46), junior Kelsey Hardy took 12th in 400 meters (1:13.30), sophomore Hannah Donajkowski placed 14th in 3,200 run (15:43.5), and freshman Allison Webster finished 15th in 3,200 run (16:23.04) and 23rd in 800 run (3:06.90).
Johannesburg-Lewiston, St. Mary compete in 18-team invitational at Inland Lakes
INDIAN RIVER – Johannesburg-Lewiston and Gaylord St. Mary both competed in an 18-team track and field invitational Thursday at Indian River Inland Lakes.
J-L senior Shannon Kievit led the Cardinals by winning the long jump (15-06), placing third in the 400-meter dash (1:04.24) and taking fifth in the 200 (29.11). Senior Ashley Courtier finished first in the high jump (4-11) and third in the long jump (14-06).
Savanna Walter tied for second in the pole vault (7-00.01), Taylor Kroll placed fourth in the shot put (32-03) and Brianne Kennedy took fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (18.85).
St. Mary's Jacquelyn Harbin placed fifth in the 100 (13.75) and sixth in the 200 (29.52), while Bailey Juneac finished sixth in the 100 hurdles (19.31) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (55.51).
McKenna Roberts took eighth in the 800-meter run (2:48.53) to also help the Snowbirds, and Elizabeth Harbin placed eighth in the 400 (1:09.27).
Sault Ste. Marie won the invitational (100 points), followed by Harbor Springs (83), Brimley (72), Inland Lakes (67), J-L (65), Boyne City (52), Mancelona (45.5), Central Lake (40), Rogers City (30), Cheboygan (29), Pellston (28), St. Mary (20.50), and Posen (16).
The J-L boys' team won three events to place fifth at the invitational, while St. Mary finished 12th.
Cameron Nickert led the Cardinals by winning the high jump (5-08) and taking fourth in the long jump (18-02). Jeremiah Chappell took second in the 110 hurdles (17.04), fourth in the pole vault (9-06) and sixth in the 300 hurdles (46.99) to also help the team.
Mike Courtier won the pole vault (10-00.01), Ethan May took fourth in the 100 (11.99) and Dale Wells finished seventh in the discus (105-03.5).
A J-L relay team of Dominic Cassisi, Dillon Cushman, May, and Nickert won the 400 (46.81).
Adam Makarewicz of St. Mary placed fifth in the 1,600 (4:51.17), while Levi Milan took seventh in the 400 (57.76).
Cheboygan won the invitational (145), followed by Sault Ste. Marie (83), Inland Lakes (83), Mancelona (82), J-L (62), Harbor Springs (61), Boyne City (52), Pellston (30), Onaway (26), Rogers City (18), St. Mary (6), Central Lake (4), Brimley (1), Pellston (0), and Posen (0).
Johannesburg-Lewiston track and field teams standout at first meet of season
BELLAIRE – The Johannesburg-Lewiston girls’ track and field team kicked off its season with a second-place finish at the Heidi Steiner Memorial meet on Monday at Bellaire.
J-L freshman thrower Taylor Kroll led the Cardinals by winning the discus (91-4) and shot put (31-4.5), while senior sprinter Shannon Kievit won the 400-meter dash (1:05.83), took second in 200 (28.51), and fourth in long jump (12-2.5)
Senior McKenzie Mathewson took third in high jump (4-6) and fourth in 300-meter hurdles (57.34), sophomore Savannah Walter placed third in pole vault (7-0), junior Breanne Kennedy finished fourth in 100 hurdles (18.16), and sophomore Kate Heidman placed fifth in the 100 (14.20).
Bellaire finished first at the meet, followed by J-L, Indian River Inland Lakes, Central Lake, Glen Lake, Mancelona, and Ellsworth.
The J-L boy’s team also competed at the meet and finished third out of eight teams.
Cameron Nickert paced the Cardinals by winning the long jump (18-4) and placing second in high jump (5-3.01).
Junior Jeremiah Chappell placed third in 110-meter hurdles (17.90), third in 300 hurdles (47.29) and fourth in long jump (16-8), while sophomore Ethan May finished third in the 200 (24.46), fourth in the 100 (11.59), and fifth in the 400 (58.0).
J-L’s relay teams also had a lot of success at the meet. The team of Dillon Cushman, Tyler Ehrler, Nickert, and May won the 400-meter relay, and the team of Ehrler, Dale Wells, David Sherbonda, and Mike Courterier placed second in the 800 relay. J-L’s Nickert, Courterier, Sherbonda, and Dominic Cassisi finished third in the 1,600 relay.
Mancelona won the meet, followed by Inland Lakes, J-L, Bellaire, Fife Lake Forest Area, Glen Lake, Ellsworth, and Central Lake.
J-L visits Mancelona at 4 p.m. Friday for its second meet of the season.
JOHANNESBURG – Last season the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls' track team ran away with the Division 4 Regional title against some of the toughest competition in Northern Michigan.
The Cardinals also had seven state qualifiers and returns four of them this season in sophomore Kate Heidman and seniors Shannon Kievit, Ashley Courterier and McKenzie Mathewson.
"I have a pretty good idea of how well we'll be based on the returning gals from last season," J-L coach Kevin Kennedy said. "Everyone contributed last year to the success of our season, and I have a feeling we're going to pick up from where we left off. We've been pretty successful the past few years, so hopefully we'll continue that."
Kievit placed first in the long jump (15-6) at the Regional last season and fifth in 200 meters, 400 meters and long jump at the State Final. Courterier has competed at States each year she has been on varsity and is a dominant high jumper. She tied the school record (5-3) as a sophomore and strives to break it this year.
“It took a lot of long and hard work to get to States last year,” Kievit said. “I spent a lot of weekends at the track running or at my house running outside. I spent extra time after practices. It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and dedication.”
Both athletes have secured roster spots on college teams next fall. Kievit will run cross-country and track at Alma College, and Courterier will jump at Saginaw Valley State.
Heidman, alongside Courterier and Mathewson, helped the J-L 800 relay team place second at the Regional and qualify for the Final. Heidman is also among a group of six sophomores Kennedy is excited about coaching this season.
“We have a lot of pretty good sophomores coming up,” he said. “I’m happy with what I’ve seen so far this year. Some of these kids will have to step up for sure. Some of them are capable of doing it right now from what I’ve seen in the hallway.”
Senior Hailey Weaver and juniors Brianne Kennedy, Rachel Baker, Kelsey Hardy and Sarah Hofer round out the upperclassmen, while the team also has a crop of nine freshmen it will rely on. A few of the freshmen were standouts at the middle school level.
“These girls work hard and are dedicated,” Kennedy said. “That’s the one thing I stress: work hard, have fun and everything else will come. The work ethic is there, and I don’t have any slackers. We’re working with one goal in mind, and that’s working hard.”
The biggest challenge the team faces this season is only having 24 athletes to compete in 17 different events.
“I don’t have the numbers but the quality is still there,” Kennedy said. “We’re not going to be as deep, so we’re going to have to work harder. In the past two years, we’ve been able to pick up third- and fourth-place finishes. This year we’re not as deep, so we’re going to have to hit the top three places.”
The second challenge is running in the school hallways. With snow still on the track, the team spends practice time running up stairs, sprinting in the halls and doing running drills. Without access to the gymnasium or the multipurpose room, it’s been tough for shotput and discus throwers to practice.
“When working in the halls, you can’t get a lot done,” Kennedy said. “We’re just trying to get into shape.
“We can work on exchanges and when running 400s, we have resistance bands we’ll use. We have sleds we pull. The hard part is just making up workouts for each individual each and every day.”
It’s difficult preparing runners, especially freshmen, for varsity level competition indoors. To get a true feel for the sport, the runners must be outdoors on the track.
“We need to get the kids on the track,” Kennedy said. “Even though some of the kids ran in eighth grade, it’s a different level here. The training is different, and they’re finding that out now.
“The competition level is different. You have freshmen running against four-year seniors, so they’ll have to rise up, and I think they will. It’s always fun to see who steps up and makes a difference. It’s always a pleasant surprise every year as far as who steps up and gets the job done.”
J-L’s goal for this season is to have fun and achieve individual goals, but as a team, it would like to the win the Ski Valley Conference and capture another Regional title.
“We won the Regional last year, but we did lose conference by a few points,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to have to work hard to get either one of those again.”
Runs in the family: How track and field helps an area women battle against MS
JOHANNESBURG – Tina Courterier was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis almost two years ago.
Multiple sclerosis, more commonly known as MS, is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system – more specifically, it affects the brain and spinal cord. The disease can hinder a person’s ability to walk, move body parts, maintain coordination or even see.
So when she was diagnosed with the disease, it seemed like the end of the world for Courterier, who also is the best track and field athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston school history.
“I fell into a really deep depression where I isolated myself and pushed everything away from me,” she said. “I didn’t want anything to do with anyone and felt like I was no good. I felt like I couldn’t do anything for anyone.”
After she received her diagnosis, Courterier locked herself in her bedroom, denied anyone from the outside world to speak to her and spurned her own family in the process of doing so.
“I was in my room and had thrown all of my husband’s stuff out of the bedroom,” she said. “My kids didn’t want to talk to me or be around me. My dogs didn’t want to be around me. I didn’t want to shower and didn’t want to take care of myself.”
A flashback prior to the summer of 2012 reveals Courterier as a different person.
She was the perfect wife. She was a loyal and dependable employee. She was a model citizen within the Johannesburg community.
Most importantly, she was an outstanding mother to not only her three children but also to her children’s friends.
Courterier would volunteer at the school and even assist the track and field team. In 2011, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see her at a track meet holding the starting blocks for a sprinter or coaching a relay team how to hand off a baton.
She did it because she loved to help, but she also did it because track and field was in her blood.
She competed in the 100-meter dash, 200 meters, 400-meter relay and 800 relay when she was in high school.
She was good at running, too. Some of her times are still atop the school’s record books.
She qualified for the State Finals in both her freshman and sophomore years. In 1991, she became an individual champion by winning the 200 (26.59).
“Running came naturally to me,” she explained. “I didn’t play basketball, and I wasn’t a cheerleader. I started running in the seventh grade, and I still hold several of the school’s records.”
While Courterier raised her children, she often told them stories about her success as a runner. The more she spoke of becoming a State qualifier or winning an individual championship, the more her daughter, Ashley, fell in love with the sport.
Little did Tina know that telling Ashley those stories would save Tina's life years later.
“I talked about running track a lot to Ashley,” Tina said. “I really missed running at meets and would always talk about it. We connected and she would ask me a lot about competing. She fell right in love with track.”
Ashley became a talented track prospect in middle school when the Courterier family lived in Virginia four years ago.
She was so valuable to her team that she was awarded the Coach’s Award as an eighth-grader, an honor given to the school’s most valuable track athlete. It’s one of the toughest awards to earn at an AA-classified school.
An AA school in Virginia is equivalent in size to a Class B school in Michigan.
“That is a very hard award to get at an AA school,” Tina said. “She had to try out for the team. It’s very hard to make the track team. She was the only white girl who made the team.”
So when Tina, who shunned the outside world, was unreachable, Ashley used the connection she developed with her mother at the track to chase away the black clouds storming over her family.
After Tina’s diagnosis, Ashley shortly realized just how much her mother meant to the family.
Ashley did whatever she could to ensure that the semblance of family existed within the Courterier household. Whether it was cooking, cleaning or having long, personal talks with her mother, Ashley did her best to help.
“(After my diagnosis) is when Ashley stepped in,” Tina said. “She’d make the family dinner or go to the grocery store for me. She helped me.”
Ashley also would write her mother notes of inspiration on a daily basis. She’d drive her mother to the neurologist. She would even be a shoulder for her mother to cry on when shedding a tear was necessary.
“She’s the one who motivated me,” Tina said. “If it wasn’t for her, I’d still be in my room. She reminded me that I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me. She’d always perk me up and get me on my feet.”
Disease or no disease, Tina’s presence has meant the world to Ashley.
Tina appears at every J-L track meet to root her daughter on. She’s there for every award ceremony. She’s there to clip out every newspaper story that highlights her daughter’s finishes.
All of that support has positively impacted Ashley’s career.
Ashley has qualified for the Division 4 State final each of her three years on varsity. She placed seventh in the high jump (5-1) last season and 10th (4-11) as a sophomore in 2012.
Her recognition as a State qualifier, coupled with her marks recorded at multi-team invitational's, conference meets and regional competitions, garnered her a scholarship offer to join the track and field team at Saginaw Valley State.
Tina said she couldn’t be happier for her daughter earning a scholarship to compete collegiately.
“I’m so proud of Ashley,” she said. “I tell everybody that I see that she is running at Saginaw Valley. I’m proud that she’s (running in college) because she wants to do it and not because I want her to.
“Ashley doesn’t run the same events that I did, but she does her own things. I’m thankful for that because she is her own person.”
Tina was offered a scholarship herself to run at Stanford University in California after her brilliant track and field career in Johannesburg. However, she regretfully turned it down in order to start a family with her husband.
“I could have gone (to college) anywhere, but I got married and moved on with my life,” she said. “I wish I would have went. I started having kids while my husband was in the Navy, so I never went to college.”
Ashley is poised to qualify for the State Finals as a senior this year, and her younger brother, Michael, may join her.
Michael, a freshman on this year’s squad, has helped some of the boys’ relay teams find early success this spring. He also has proved to be an upcoming standout for the Cardinals.
Tina hopes to see both of her children compete at States on May 31. She said competing in the Finals meant a lot to her as a J-L student 23 years ago.
“I look forward to States because I know Ashley will make it, and I hope Michael makes it, too,” Tina said. “My proudest moment of running track in high school was when I made it to States.”
Tina’s battle with MS is a far cry from a blessing in disguise. However, she has learned not to take any day for granted. She also has learned that although she is fighting for her well-being, the family, friends and neighbors who support her is a reminder to live every day to the fullest.
“I have a beautiful family, three healthy children and an amazing husband of 22 years,” she said. “There are millions of people who would love what I have. As long as I can, I’ll continue to fight against MS for my family.”
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