Former All-Americans inspire Kroll during Gaylord Highland Games
GAYLORD — Johannesburg-Lewiston's Taylor Kroll enters her senior year with one goal in mind: sign with a college track and field team.
So when she was among two former All-American college throwers during the seventh annual Gaylord Highland Games held Saturday at Gaylord Regional Airport, she utilized the opportunity to learn about what it takes to be successful as a thrower at the next level.
"It was pretty cool," Kroll said. "You can tell when they do certain events that that's what they've done before, and they're good at it.
"I kept asking about what you threw in college and high school and what you think about this and what you think about that."
Kroll placed second in the women's division of the Highland Games.
The champion was Emily Adams, a Delano, Calif. native who competed for two years at Lane Community College (Eugene, Ore.) before she transferred to Clarke University (Iowa) and became an All-American.
"Taylor has the potential to throw in college," Adams said. "She appears to be ready to work and wants to work hard.
"With the right coaching, she could go far, especially in the hammer."
Adams was a four-time All-American, placing second in the weight throw during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 NAIA indoor championships.
She took second and third in the hammer throw in the outdoor championships during those respective seasons as well.
Having a passion for track and field was key to her success.
"If you practice and work hard, you can be successful," she said. "You can't be successful if you don't love what you're doing."
Becky Hyma, who was an All-American at Grand Valley State, took third in Saturday's Highland Games.
She said two things help make a college thrower successful.
"You have to have lots of natural strength and talent," Hyma said. "You have to have the desire to achieve and be humble."
Also important is the thrower's ability to learn and listen.
"You have to be coachable," she said. "You have to be disciplined and willing to listen to your coaches.
"Your coaches are your best bet to getting better at throwing."
This past spring, Kroll snapped the J-L records for both the discus and shot put multiple times and qualified for the Division 4 state final.
During that meet, she took fourth in each event, including recording a distance of 35-11.25 in the shot put and a school record 116-03 in the discus.
Saturday's Highland Games marked Kroll's first festival of the handful she'll compete in during the summer.
She hopes that success translates to track and field next school year.
"I know I can improve and do better," Kroll said. "Throwing stones and shot is really not that different.
"Now I just need to what I do during practice and transfer it over to shot."
Perhaps rubbing shoulders with additional former All-Americans can inspire her to perform well next spring, too.
"I didn't go in too deep (in asking Adams and Hyma questions) because I didn't want to bother them," Kroll said. "I asked about their distances and asked about certain things with the shot.
"It was pretty cool."
Cardinals' Courterier breaks pole vault record, places 5th in D4 final
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
GAYLORD — In his first-ever try in the event, Mike Courterier won the high jump in the season-opening boys track and field meet April 14.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston junior later suffered an ankle injury that kept him from competing in the high jump as well as his specialty, the pole vault, for the remainder of the spring.
The injury was so tough on him he couldn't practice pole vaulting while wearing his track spikes. He instead wore basketball shoes.
That must be one special pair of kicks.
Courterier wore his gym shoes in the annual Herald Times Meet of Champions held Thursday at Gaylord, and he broke the school record for the pole vault with a height of 14-00.
He had set the previous record, 13-07, during the Division 4 state final last season — that time wearing
"In practice, I've been getting 14-00," Courterier said. "I wore my basketball shoes today because I thought they'd be my lucky shoes because 14-00 is what I've gotten in practice.
"I usually practice in spikes. But since I sprained my ankle at Inland Lakes, I've practiced in my basketball shoes because my feet feel more supported. They're more comfortable, but I don't know why I haven't worn them before in meets."
Courterier attempted to clear 14-03 after breaking the school record.
However, the adrenaline rush from capturing the milestone was too much for him to overcome.
"That didn't work because I was too overwhelmed," he said. "I had big-time adrenaline.
"The same thing happened when I broke the record last year at 13-01. I couldn't go any further because I was too excited."
The 14-00 mark allowed Courterier to enter as the second seed in Saturday's D4 state final at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids.
He ultimately placed fifth and medalled, but his height (12-06) was 1 1/2 feet less than what he had jumped Tuesday.
Nevertheless, his 14-00 was the second-best vault in the state this spring, as only Addison senior Isaac Skinner cleared a higher height.
Skinner vaulted 14-08 during a May 24 meet and became the state runner-up during Saturday's state final. It's unsure what shoes Skinner wore to get those marks, but it's likely he didn't wear basketball shoes like Courterier used to end the season.
Softball star helps Kroll calm down, break Cardinals' discus record
GRAND RAPIDS — Inland Lakes pitcher Chloe Mallory, the ace for the fifth-ranked Bulldogs, played in the Division 4 softball district tournament Friday instead of the traditional Saturday morning format.
No one was more thankful the Bulldogs played Friday than one of Mallory's newest friends, Johannesburg-Lewiston junior Taylor Kroll.
The rival throwers competed in the D4 track and field state final Saturday at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids. If it weren't for Mallory's words of encouragement, Kroll might not have shaken her nerves.
Kroll instead placed fourth in both the shot put and discus — meddling in both events — while her discus mark was a new school record.
"I felt awful all Saturday morning and couldn't sleep the night before," Kroll said. "I couldn't breathe out of my nose, and it hurt to eat and drink stuff. I thought I'd have an awful day.
"I went to the discus, and one of the girls from I-Lakes was there, and she helped me. We messed around and had a nice time. Having Chloe pull me out (of my funk) was cool. We had positive reinforcements for each other and talked about everything like friends."
Kroll's fourth place in the shot put (35-11.25) made up for the rough two weeks of practice she had leading up to the state final.
But it was her record of 116-03 in the discus that made her day.
"In the discus, I had to mentally prepare myself this week that I might not make it to the finals, but I pulled it together," she said. "I was ranked 16th going in, and I know rankings don't mean a lot, but they still had some effect on me.
"The last two weeks, I haven't been throwing well at practice at all. I was barely hitting over 100 (feet) while practicing."
In an attempt to shake her slump, Kroll pretended each practice was the state final, and she put emphasis on making the best of her throws.
"I pretended I was in a real-life situation in practice where I had to hit 110 (feet) to go into the finals (at the state final)," she said. "I think three times I actually made it to the finals (in practice), and one time I pretended it was a real-life situation for an entire practice."
J-L coach Kevin Kennedy gave Kroll words of encouragement after seeing her practice throws Saturday at Houseman Field.
It wasn't until she interacted with Mallory that she shook the nerves.
"Going in there, I was preparing myself to lose," Kroll said. "My first throw was 104 (feet), and I like, 'OK, I got this.'
"I wasn't even nervous on my second throw, and I was like, 'Yeah, I can do this.' I felt like I might fault my second throw, but I didn't.
"It felt good."
Also making Kroll feel good was receiving her fourth-place medals.
"It feels pretty good to go up on the podium," she said. "Going up there with the Harbor Springs girls (Erika Lechner and Caylin Bonser) felt good because we always cheer each other on.
"It was cool we were representing the north."
J-L sophomore Destiny Sherbonda also medalled in the state final, placing eighth in the long jump (15-06.50).
Sherbonda helped Alicia Korff, Madison May and Savannah Walter place 19th in the 400-meter relay (53.65) to round out J-L's state qualifiers.
Swimmer's glitch: 3 school records fall for Boughner, Cardinals
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
GAYLORD — Johannesburg-Lewiston seniors Brent Carpenter and Troy Boughner wanted to go swimming Tuesday afternoon, so they went.
The two swam about 1/4 mile of Tee Lake in Lewiston, and both were exhausted once they got back into the boat.
In fact, Boughner was so exhausted he thought he'd run badly in the annual Herald Times Meet of Champions later that day at Gaylord.
Boughner finished the 200 in 22.8 to win the event, besting the previous school record of 23.41 set in 2000.
"I thought I was going to do badly because my knees hurt really bad from swimming," Boughner said. "I thought I was going to do terrible."
Boughner didn't do terrible at all.
The senior joined Ethan May, Dominic Cassisi and Nick Mays in breaking the school record for the 400- and 800-meter relays.
They won the 400 relay in 44.9 and 800 relay in 1:32.09.
The key to breaking the relay records was Mays, who replaced Timmy LaPointe in the events for the Meet of Champions.
"The competition and bigger schools there put a chip on our shoulder, and we just wanted to beat the records," Cassisi said.
"Nick wanted it badly, too. We brought up (adding Mays to the relays) as a team in practice, and then Nick and Timmy raced each other in practice. It was a head-to-head race, and the only fair way for Nick to earn it. He won by a decent amount, so we put him in them this week."
The Cardinals' quartet didn't stop there, though.
They competed in the Division 4 state final Saturday at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids and placed third in the 800 relay (1:32.64).
Not only did they medal, they broke the school record once again.
Also competing in the state final was Mike Courterier, who took fifth in the pole vault (12-06) to take home a medal.
Boughner finished seventh in the long jump (19-09.50) and eighth in the 200 (23.58) — meddling in both events.
Boughner also helped Cassisi, May and LaPointe in placing 15th in the 400 relay (45.40).
Rounding out J-L's effort in the state final was Dale Wells, who placed 10th in the discus (133-10) and 23rd in the shot put (40-04).
Boughner broke three school records, including the 200-meter dash.
"We went fishing and swimming, and I swam half the lake with Brent," Boughner said. "I knew I had to run, but they invited me to come over, so I was like, 'heck yeah,' so we started swimming."
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
EAST JORDAN — Mike May owned four boys track and field school records when he graduated from Johannesburg-Lewiston 32 years ago.
In 2000, his 400-meter relay record fell, but no one has come close to breaking his other three records since 1984.
That was until his son, Ethan May, broke one Saturday during the Division 4 regional at Boswell Stadium in East Jordan.
Ethan joined Nick Mays, Troy Boughner and Dominic Cassisi in winning the 800 relay. Their time of 1:33.29 made them individual regional champions, qualified them for the D4 state final and helped the Cardinals score 73 points and take fourth place at the regional.
Most prevalent, though, their time broke Mike's record of 1:34.68 he set with teammates Jeff Shoff, Steve Rittley and Bill Cohoe.
"Ever since I was little, everybody came up to me and said, 'Oh, hey, are you going to beat your dad's records?'" Ethan said. "That was even before I ever ran track, and it's always been a goal of mine.
"I wanted to break his 100-meter dash record (11.06), but I haven't been able to get down low enough with my times. But it didn't have to be the 100 record I broke, and I was OK with that."
When Ethan and his teammates broke the record Saturday, he was sure to let Mike hear about it immediately following the event.
"Our relay kept getting closer to breaking it last year," Ethan said. "We were 4/10 of a second off from breaking it, and this year we were running slower, and I didn't think we'd get the record. But the last couple meets, we've run really quickly and have gotten more anxious about breaking it.
"It was awesome and felt great because he (Mike) kept teasing us and saying we'd never get one of his records because they'd been up there for more than 30 years. After we broke it, I went up to him and said, 'Hey old man, your name is coming off the record board.'
"He couldn't believe it."
Maybe more unbelievable is the fact that J-L will send 12 Cardinals to compete in the state final June 4 at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids.
That includes Boughner, who qualified in all four of his events. He took second in the 200 (23.51) and third in the long jump (19-08).
Boughner also joined Timmy LaPointe, Cassisi and Ethan in becoming individual champions in the 400 relay (45.52).
Mike Courterier became a champion after he won the pole vault (13-06) which tied the school record he set in the state final last season.
Rounding out the boys was Dale Wells, who won the discus (139-04.75) and took third in the shot put (44-09.25) to qualify for the state final.
The J-L girls team, which scored 81.5 points and finished third, had five qualify for the state final.
A team of Alicia Korff, Madison May, Savannah Walter and Destiny Sherbonda won the 400 relay (54.20) to become individual champions.
Sherbonda took first in the long jump (16-02), tying the school record set by Stephanie Fischer in 2010 during the process.
Sherbonda's jump would have broken the school record, but she was shortchanged 1/4 inch because of a measuring mishap by the judges.
Taylor Kroll qualified in the shot put (35-08.50, third place) and discus (106-04.25, fourth).
The St. Mary girls team scored 55 points and took fifth while qualifying two Snowbirds for the state final.
Alex Hunter took second in the 100-meter hurdles (18.16) and 300 hurdles (52.42) to earn her state final bid.
Samantha Harvey finished second in the high jump (4-08.02).
MANCELONA — Taylor Kroll admitted she was too conservative with her discus throws during Friday's Ski Valley Championships.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston junior had owned the throwing events during girls track and field meets this spring.
No one could beat her.
That was until Chloe Mallory of Inland Lakes (104-04) edged Kroll (103-08) for first place during the regular season's most important meet.
Kroll took that to heart and did something about it Monday at Mancelona.
She threw the discus 115-04 to take first in the season finale and snap J-L's school record (110-11) she had set earlier this spring.
"I think what helped today was the fact that I was willing to take the risk of it going (out of bounds)," Kroll said. "I was too conservative last week.
"Even my mom made the comment to me Friday that I didn't look like I was trying my hardest. She said she could see that I was just going through the motions."
While Kroll's wake-up call cost her the top medal at the Ski Valley Championships, it came at the perfect time because now she's mentally prepared for the Division 4 regional Saturday, May 21 at East Jordan, especially with a trip to the D4 state final is on the line.
"It was good relief today," Kroll said. "I just need to have fun with throwing. I need to not care if I'm going to win or lose.
"I'm just hoping to go into the regional now and throw at least 115 again or 120 and qualify for states."
Kroll also won the shot put (35-05) on Monday, helping the Cardinals score 207 points and win the six-team meet hosted by the Ironmen.
Mancelona scored 76 points and took second place, followed by Central Lake (67 points), Onaway (51), St. Mary (44) and Forest Area (43).
Also helping J-L was Alyssa Bartle, who won the 800-meter run (2:50.03) and the 400 (1:10.03). She placed third in the 1,600 (6:05.76).
Savannah Walter won the pole vault (7-06) and helped a team of Alicia Korff, Madison May and Destiny Sherbonda in taking second in the 400-meter relay (56.26) and third in the 800 relay (2:02.44).
Samantha Morehouse placed first in the 3,200 (13:28.22) and second in the 1,600 (6:05.76) while Jersey Layman won the 1,600 (6:04.79).
A team of Brooke Keene, Hannah Donajkowski, Makenzie Sides and Layman won the 3,200 relay (12:11.07). Keene, Anna Smith, Katie Kobylczak and Caleigh Madej won the 1,600 relay (5:15.22).
Sherbonda took second in the long jump (14-11.25) and third in the 200 (29.01), and Jayda Richter tied for second in the high jump (4-04) and placed third in the 300-meter hurdles (59.12).
Donajkowski was second in the 800 (2:58.96), Chelsea Amborski took second in the 100 (14.59) and Jessika Dixon placed second in the 300 hurdles (58.76). Amelia Lawrence finished third in the pole vault (7-00).
Allison Webster took fourth in the 3,200 (18:25.75) while Sides placed fourth in both the pole vault (5-06) and 400 (1:14.12).
Leading St. Mary was Elizabeth Harbin, who placed second in the 200 (28.29) and joined Alex Hunter, Emma Jo Cherwinski and Bailey Juneac in taking second in the 800 relay (2:00.64).
St. Mary's Samantha Harvey tied for second in the high jump (4-04) while Maggie Schultz was fourth in the 1,600 (6:44.29) and Cherwinski placed fourth in the 200 (29.82).
Boughner's Cardinals win 6-team meet at Mancelona
MANCELONA — There's ending the regular season with a bang, and then there's doing what the Johannesburg-Lewiston boys track and field team did Monday during a six-team meet at Mancelona.
The Cardinals won eight events to score 174 points and take first place.
Mancelona (121 points) placed second, followed by Onaway (71), St. Mary (53), Forest Area (50) and Central Lake (29).
Troy Boughner led the charge for the Cardinals, winning three events which included the long jump (19-01.50) and 200-meter dash (23.72).
Boughner joined Nick Mays, Dominic Cassisi and Ethan May in winning the 800-meter relay (1:38.61). He also helped Cassisi, May and Timmy LaPointe take second in the 400 relay (47.20).
LaPointe won the 110-meter hurdles (17.28) and 300 hurdles (46.68).
Dale Wells placed first in the shot put (40-11) and second in the discus (133-08) while Mike Courterier won the pole vault (13-00).
Cassisi took first in the 400 (55.47) and third in the 200 (25.18).
May was second in both the 100 (11.95) and 200 (24.91).
Nathan Idalski finished second in the 1,600 (5:26.28) and fourth in the 3,200 (11:47.16). He assisted Kyle May, Nathan Kuznicki and Nathan Lawrence in taking second in the 3,200 relay (9:55.45).
Lawrence was third in the 300 hurdles (50.13) and fourth in the 110 hurdles (21.72).
Lance Uplegger took third in the high jump (5-02), and Kuznicki finished fourth in the 300 hurdles (50.38).
A team of Kyle May, Patrick Kennedy, Kuznicki and Mays placed third in the 1,600 relay (4:12.34).
Levi Milan led St. Mary, which had its best finish so far this spring.
The senior won the high jump (5-06) and joined Ian Milan, James Pandy and Bryce Seidell in taking fourth in the 1,600 relay (4:16.95).
Brendan Delaney was second in the 3,200 (11:29.64). He helped Ian Milan, Pandy and Seidell place fourth in the 3,200 relay (10:24.36). He also helped Kyle Brown, Blake Stevens and Nick Switalski finish fourth in the 800 relay (1:58.41).
Ian Milan was third in the 3,200 (11:44.74) while Matthew Makarewicz took third in the discus (107-09.50).
Cal Gilling was fourth in the shot put (35-05) and assisted Brown, Stevens and Switalski in taking fourth in the 400 relay (56.96).
Bulldogs best defending-champion Cardinals for Ski Valley title
BELLAIRE — Johannesburg-Lewiston and Inland Lakes shared a back-and-forth rivalry in girls track and field all spring.
The schools swapped first and second place trophies throughout the season while Cardinals and Bulldogs battled each other individually.
Heading into Friday's Ski Valley Championships, all nine teams participating knew J-L and Inland Lakes were fighting for the title.
In the end, it was the Bulldogs who scored 187 points and won the conference championship by a commanding point margin.
The Cardinals (124 points) placed second and were unable to defend their Ski Valley title they won in upset fashion one season ago.
St. Mary (84) took third, followed by Bellaire (81) and Central Lake (67).
"I thought it was going to be close," J-L senior Savannah Walter said. "But when we heard how many points they won by, it was a shock."
It was a shock, sure, and at the very least, it was motivation for the Cardinals to gear up for the Division 4 regional Saturday, May 21 at East Jordan.
At the regional, a bid to compete in the D4 state final is on the line for each Cardinal, individually.
"We all needed to have a good day to work toward the (conference title) today," Walter said.
"I think when we go back to practice, we all know what we'll need to work on so it won't happen again at regionals."
For Walter, that means tightening up her fundamentals while pole vaulting. She recorded a height of 8-00, a state-final qualifying height, and took first place during Friday's championships.
She hopes to vault 8-06 or higher to tie or break J-L's school record when she gets to East Jordan.
"I just have to start turning over the bar instead of going over it backward," she said. "I do that in practice. But at meets, once it gets to where I need to turn, I stop turning.
"I think it's just because I know I've done well not turning, and I need to get back into the habit of turning."
Alongside Walter, Amelia Lawrence medalled in the pole vault. She placed third, and her height of 6-06 was a personal record.
Destiny Sherbonda won the long jump (14-10) and finished second in the 200-meter dash (28.93).
Taylor Kroll, who frequently sweeps the throwing events, won the shot put (34-02.50), but Chloe Mallory of Inland Lakes (104-04) edged Kroll for first place in the discus (103-08).
A team of Walter, Sherbonda, Alicia Korff and Madison May placed second in the 400-meter relay (56.07).
Samantha Morehouse, Jersey Layman, Hannah Donajkowski and Alyssa Bartle finished third in the 3,200 relay (11:18.59).
Also performing well were the Alex Hunter-led Snowbirds, who gave it their all to garner their third-place finish as the smallest team there.
Hunter won the 100-meter hurdles (18.29) and 300 hurdles (53.74) while helping Emma Jo Cherwinski, Bailey Juneac and Elizabeth Harbin in winning the 800 relay (1:57.84).
Cherwinski was second in the 400 (1:05.45), Juneac took third in the 100 hurdles (18:56) and Harbin placed third in the long jump (13-10.50).
Samantha Harvey finished third in the high jump (4-08).
Champion Bulldogs too tough for runner-up Cardinals to overcome
BELLAIRE — Entering the spring, Johannesburg-Lewiston knew it'd have a chance to contend for a Ski Valley championship.
The Cardinals just had to get over a handful of hurdles.
The first was the graduation of Jeremiah Chappell, who currently runs for the Northern Michigan University club track and field team. As a senior last season, he led J-L as its top scorer.
Another was how well the Cardinals could stay healthy. Sprinter Dominic Cassisi (ACL) wasn't available until the season was half over while he rehabbed a football injury while Jacob Marsh (hip flexor), another top scorer, missed almost the entire season. An injury even limited Mike Courterier (ankle), the region's top pole vaulter.
The last hurdle was rival Inland Lakes, a team jam-packed with speed, strength and, across the board, phenomenal athletes.
All season long, the Cardinals hopped over their first two hurdles, but when it came to Friday's Ski Valley Championships at Bellaire, the Bulldogs proved to be too much for J-L to overcome.
Inland Lakes scored 186 points and claimed its league title.
J-L (152.50 points) finished second, followed by Mancelona (92), Onaway (81) and Forest Area (52).
St. Mary (5) placed ninth.
"We're pretty bummed because it would have been nice to get a conference title," J-L senior Ethan May said. "It's been awhile since a boys track team at Joburg had a conference title."
May, who won the 100-meter dash (11.41) and took third in the 200 (23.89), as well as the other Cardinals knew Inland Lakes would be tough to beat.
"They always have been good competition," he said. "We did the best we could. For a boys track team that in recent years hasn't done so hot, we really brought it back this season."
J-L certainly restored some pride back into the program Friday.
Courterier won the pole vault (13-06), tying his personal best which is also the J-L school record. He attempted to clear 13-10 but missed on both of his tries. However, those were the only points the Cardinals got from the junior. He wasn't physically able to compete in the high jump.
"That took away points from us," May said.
"We just don't have the depth Inland Lakes does to make up for that loss."
Troy Boughner, a first-year runner who is filling in for Chappell quite well, won the 200 (23.60) and took second in the long jump (18-02).
Dale Wells won the discus (146-08), but rival Ryan Howery of Inland Lakes (46-02) edged the senior in the shot put for first place (41-07).
Nick Mays took second in the 400 (54.42) while Timmy LaPointe placed second in both the 110-meter hurdles (17.22) and 300 hurdles (45.98).
A team of Mays, Boughner, Cassisi and May won the 800-meter relay (1:34.99), and LaPointe, Boughner, Cassisi and May placed first in the 400 relay (46.31).
Matt Makarewicz led St. Mary by taking fifth in the discus (117-05).
J-L and St. Mary will both now focus on the Division 4 regional Saturday, May 21 at East Jordan.
Some of the area's best teams will be there, and only the best times will guarantee the Cardinals and Snowbirds a trip to the state final.
"We know what we can do," May said. "Right now, I'm pretty sure our relays are running faster times than what the state requires to make the state meet, and that's nice.
"We just need to come out and perform good enough to make it."
Rival throwers Wells, Howery 'pretty good buds' entering D4 regional
CENTRAL LAKE — Dale Wells and Ryan Howery are teammates in different colored boys track and field uniforms.
The two seniors have competed against one another in the shot put and discus since they were freshmen.
Wells throws for Johannesburg-Lewiston, a school that relied on the senior's 6-foot-2 and 245-pound "farm build" to score points this season.
Howery, on the other hand, is 6-2 and 225 pounds and what NFL scouts would call an Adonis in the weight room. The size of his arms look almost as impressive as his ACT score, and that's something the Michigan Tech football team noticed when the Huskies recruited him.
Physical appearances aside, their rivalry in the Ski Valley has been unmatched by any other competitors this season.
They're also really close friends, something that has helped both throwers reach personal bests and break school records.
"It helps you out because whoever is more determined seems like they win," Wells said. "It's funny because some days you're just not feeling it, and he'll jump ahead of you. We're always going back at each other."
All season long, Wells and Howery took turns winning the throwing events. The two were virtually tied for first-place medals heading into the Central Lake Invitational held May 9.
However, Wells edged Howery in both events that day. Wells took first in the shot put (45-02.25), beating Howery's distance of 44-40. In the discus, Wells threw 134-09 to narrowly top Howery (131-09).
But that was that meet.
In Friday's Ski Valley Championships at Bellaire, the duo split first-place medals in the two events. Howery's 46-02 in the shot put beat Wells (41-07), but the Cardinal turned around and threw the discus 146-09, edging Howery's 136-08, to get the equalizer in the rivalry.
And neither would have had it any other way.
"It does help having competition because I haven't had that before at the regional and state meets," Howery said. "Having a kid in the conference is great because it pushes you to do better.
"But we're great friends. We just like to joke around and keep it light up until we throw, and then it gets serious. We cheer each other on. We're both probably each other's biggest fans — besides our parents."
With the Ski Valley Championships finished, Wells and Howery now turn their attention to the Division 4 regional Saturday, May 21 at East Jordan.
Both need to meet the minimum qualifying distances to earn a trip to the state final (39-05 for the shot put; 110-09 for the discus) and have hopes of placing in the top eight of that meet June 4.
"Hopefully, I can place at states," Howery said. "With the numbers I've thrown this year compared to last year's state numbers, I'd be like fourth in both (shot put and discus) in the state.
"Hopefully, I can just keep that up at states."
Howery first needs to qualify for the state final during the regional, and him and Wells being there should help improve each other's distances.
It's still up in the air whether the two will qualify for the state final, but one thing is certain: they'll both be there cheering for each other.
"If he throws farther than me, it'll probably help me at regionals just with the determination to beat him," Wells said. "It'll help.
"Either way, I think we're pretty good buds."
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
CENTRAL LAKE — The Ski Valley Championships are on the horizon, and it'll be a battle between Johannesburg-Lewiston and Inland Lakes to see which boys track and field team takes home the conference crown.
The Bulldogs got the best of the Cardinals during the 12-team Central Lake Invitational held Monday at Herrick Field.
Inland Lakes scored 148 points to win the meet, followed by J-L (136 points), Grand Traverse Academy (85), Onaway (71) and Mancelona (63).
St. Mary scored 14 points to placed ninth.
Helping the Cardinals was senior Dale Wells, who won the discus (131-09) and shot put (44-04), and Mike Courterier won the pole vault (13-06).
Troy Boughner placed first in the 200-meter dash (24.10) and second in the long jump (19-07) while Ethan May was first in the 100 (11.79) and third in the 200 (24.81).
Timmy LaPointe placed third in both the 110-meter hurdles (17.10) and 300 hurdles (46.22), and Nick Mays took fourth in both the 100 (12.29) and 400 (54.80).
A team of Mays, Boughner, Dominic Cassisi and May won the 800-meter relay (1:35.87) and 400 relay (46.38).
Kyle May, Mays, Patrick Kennedy and Nathan Kuznicki took third in the 1,600 relay (3:58.66).
Brendan Delaney led St. Mary by placing fifth in the 3,200-meter run (11:13.20) and helping James Pandy, Bryce Siedell and Ian Milan in taking sixth in the 1,600 relay (4:29.03).
St. Mary's Matt Makarewicz was fifth in the discus (107-06).
Also battling for a Ski Valley title are the Inland Lakes and J-L girls teams.
The Cardinals won the conference championship last season, but it was Inland Lakes that edged them Monday at Central Lake.
Inland Lakes scored 122 points to beat 11 other teams and win the meet. J-L (110.50) placed second, followed by GTA (101), Bellaire (72.5) and St. Mary (54).
Taylor Kroll paced the Cardinals by winning the shot put (32-06.50) and discus (100-00) while Savannah Walter won the pole vault (7-06.08).
Destiny Sherbonda placed first in the long jump (14-07) and fourth in the 100 (13.68), and Alicia Korff was fourth in the long jump (12-11).
Jersey Layman took third in the 1,600 (5:58.80), Amelia Lawrence finished fourth in the pole vault (6-00) and Samantha Morehouse placed fourth in the 1,600 (6:05.90).
A team of Walter, Sherbonda, Korff and Madison May took second in the 400 relay (55.14). Morehouse, Layman, Hannah Donajkowski and Alyssa Bartle placed third in the 3,200 relay (11:08.30).
Leading St. Mary was Emma Jo Cherwinski, who won the 400 (1:05.94) and joined Alex Hunter, Bailey Juneac and Elizabeth Harbin in winning the 800 relay (1:57.58).
Hunter placed second in both the 100 hurdles (18.68) and 300 hurdles (54.43) while Juneac took third in the 300 hurdles (55.07) and fourth in the 100 hurdles (18.83).
Harbin took fourth in the 200 (29.75)
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
FAIRVIEW — Taylor Kroll did it again.
For the fourth time, too.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston junior broke the school's shot put record during a 10-team girls track and field invitational Friday at Fairview.
Kroll won the event (36-01.25), snapping the record she had previously broken during a meet May 2. Her old record was 35-10.
To break the record, she relied on the help of Eastern Greene (Bloomfield, Ind.) track coach Anita Sciscoe, who has competed against Kroll during Highland Games competitions in the past.
"I sent a few videos of me throwing to one of the ladies I throw with in the Highland Games," Kroll said. "She told me a few things to work on to change my (throwing form), and it's helped me throw farther.
"I had two days to work on it (before Friday's meet). It worked."
During the meet, Kroll also won the discus (106-10).
She said she was shocked at how quickly she broke her shot put record, and she credited her network of thrower friends with her achievement.
"She (Sciscoe) coaches the throwers on her high school track team, and she's been my biggest competition," Kroll said. "She's very good.
"I'm so blessed because as soon as I put something (throwing videos) out there, people say that they can help me."
Sciscoe won't be the only person Kroll relies on for help as spring winds down, especially in July when she travels to Australia to represent Michigan in the 2016 Down Under Sports international competition.
In September, the organization selected Kroll to compete in this summer's competition which pits the top high school and college athletes against one another in sports such as track and field, cross-country, basketball, volleyball and a handful of other games.
Kroll leaves July 3 for Australia and will compete in the shot put, discus and hammer, a throwing event the MHSAA doesn't field.
The junior has almost raised enough money for the trip through family donations but will need a final fundraising push to make it to the Games.
Nevertheless, Kroll is excited about facing talented competition and knows it'll only benefit her when she gears up for her senior season.
"I think it's going to help me in the long run," she said. "There will be a special throwers coach who will help me with my throwing.
"It's going to be fun, and I think throwing against people that are better than me will be really good for me. I'll be able to watch them and say, 'I need to do what they're doing' to get better."
During the Fairview meet, Kroll's two wins pushed the Cardinals to a first-place finish after they scored 167 points.
Fairview placed second (107 points), followed by Onaway (80), Posen (69), and Rogers City (67).
Savannah Walter won the pole vault (8-00) and joined a team of Alicia Korff, Madison May and Destiny Sherbonda in winning the 400-meter relay (55.52).
Walter, Korff, May and Chelsea Amborski finished third in the 800 relay (2:04.06). Walter also helped McKenzie Sides, Anna Smith and Caleigh Madej finish third in the 1,600 relay (5:10.66).
Sherbonda won the 100-meter dash (13.59) and took second in the long jump (15-05.25).
A team of Samantha Morehouse, Hannah Donajkowski, Alyssa Bartle and jersey Layman won the 3,200 relay (11:39.51).
Morehouse finished second in the 1,600 (6:02.95) and third in the 3,200 (13:16.77).
Layman was second in the 800 (2:50.28), third in the 1,600 (6:07.09) and fourth in the 400 (1:10.52).
Bartle took third in the 800 (2:51.82) and fourth in the 3,200 (14:16.47) while Amelia Lawrence placed fourth in the pole vault (5-06).
Rookie runner Boughner becomes Cardinals' top point scorer
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
FAIRVIEW — Johannesburg-Lewiston has had its share of first-class athletes, including recent ones such as Logan Huff, Madison Showerman, Stephanie Fisher, Abby Schlicher and Ashley Courterier.
But maybe the best athlete to put on a Cardinals uniform in the past decade is Troy Boughner, who didn't try sports until this school year.
The senior ran in a handful of cross-country invitational's during the fall. However, a foot injury kept him from competing in some meets.
He signed up for boys basketball in the winter, but he didn't see much playing time behind the core group of starters and bench players which included Logan Huff, Brandon Huff, Nathan Fox, Tanner Shimel, Orin Kierczynski, Brent Carpenter and Tyson Claeys.
Boughner finally found his sport this spring, though, as he has become the boys track and field team's top point scorer.
He helped the Cardinals score 141 points and win Friday's Fairview Invitational while the host Eagles placed second (116 points), followed by Hillman (77), Oscoda (74) and Hale (64).
Boughner won all four of his events, including taking first in the long jump (19-07) and 200-meter dash (23.51). His time in the 200 was .10 seconds away from tying the school record.
The senior joined Nick Mays, Dominic Cassisi and Ethan May in winning the 800-meter relay (1:35.79), and then he assisted Cassisi, May and Timmy LaPointe in winning the 400 relay (46.17).
So what finally convinced him to play sports this school year?
"Ethan," Boughner said. "Ethan bugged me all the time because he saw how fast I was. I was going to do it last year, but I didn't really want to get into track. Ethan was mostly the reason I decided to get into this."
Boughner was an all-around athlete growing up. He started school in Gaylord before transferring to Atlanta. He was Atlanta's quarterback in early middle school, and then he transferred to J-L in the seventh grade.
He went out for football his freshman year, but he hated the experience and the fact that he couldn't play quarterback for the Cardinals.
"I didn't like it," he said. "I was the quarterback in Atlanta, but Brandon took over my spot. But that's perfectly fine because he's a way better quarterback."
While Boughner has piled up the first-place medals this spring, it's funny he's doing so because he admittedly doesn't practice too much.
But his success and lack of practice just speak to how athletically gifted he is as well as where his competitiveness is at right now.
"I don't even practice, really," Boughner said. "I just do the long jump and rarely do sprints. I've always been fast since I was little.
"Winning drives me. I'm really into winning competitions. I hate losing — absolutely hate it — so I try my best to beat everyone."
Boughner will carry that attitude into the Division 4 regional later this season, as the senior hopes to qualify for the D4 state final in as many events as he possibly can.
He doesn't care what his times or distances are; he just wants to make it to the state final and turn heads as a first-year runner and jumper.
"Winning is my goal," he said. "I don't care about my times.
"I just want to win."
Also winning during the Fairview meet was Dale Wells, who placed first in the shot put (45-01.25) and discus (137-10.10).
Mike Courterier won the pole vault (13-06), and LaPointe placed first in the 110-meter hurdles (16.87).
Cassisi was third in the 400 (55.61), Ethan May took third in the 200 (24.04) and Kyle May was third in the 800 (2:18.18).
Cam Dowling was fourth in the shot put (39-00.75), and Brad Cole finished fourth in the discus (105-09).
A team of Nathan Idalski, Nathan Lawrence, Nathan Kuznicki and Kyle May finished third in the 3,200-meter relay (9:26.63).
Cassisi overcomes 5-month ACL rehab to rejoin Cardinals
JOHANNESBURG — Dominic Cassisi had plenty of time to think about it.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston football team cruised through the Ski Valley season almost unscathed this past fall. The Cardinals settled for second place after St. Ignace beat them on a last-second play to claim their fourth consecutive league title.
After J-L had rolled past Hillman in the first round of the Division 8 playoffs, it got its rematch with the Saints in the district championship. This time, the Saints edged the Cardinals by one score to ultimately end J-L's campaign.
And the Cardinals accomplished all that without their slipperiest running back — Cassisi — who suffered an ACL injury during a Week 3 practice. The injury had sidelined him for the rest of J-L's season.
Not one to be selfish, the junior was OK with being his teammate's biggest fan during thrilling wins over Detroit Consortium and Lincoln Alcona as well as a comeback victory against Inland Lakes.
Cassisi just couldn't get past the heartache of all that hard work lost.
The Cardinals spent so much offseason time working out at the school, in the weight room and on the football field. It was their time to shine.
It was the season J-L had looked forward to since his freshman year.
"The work we put in that summer was probably the most we've put into any season so far," Cassisi said.
The season ended for the Cardinals, as it did for Cassisi, in heartbreak.
The winter training Cassisi had originally planned to prepare him for the upcoming track and field season — a sport he excels in — was now reserved for a long, extensive five-month rehabilitation process.
Three days a week, Cassisi rehabbed in Lewiston to not only overcome his ACL injury but to improve his cardio and upper-body strength.
As week after week dragged on, it was the most difficult thing he had ever done athletically in his career. It was more challenging than the football practices where he battled stud running backs like Logan Huff, Ethan May and Dale Wells for more carries on Friday nights.
It was more difficult than racing former Inland Lakes sprinter Danny Flowers, who rivaled Cassisi the past three seasons in Ski Valley meets.
Better yet, it was harder than competing in last season's Division 4 state final, where he joined May, Jeremiah Chappell and Nick Mays in racing against the state's best runners in the 400-meter and 800-meter relays.
"I had a pretty tough rehab," Cassisi said. "I'd come out of physical therapy drenched in sweat."
In April, Cassisi completed his five-month rehab and was once again jogging and running at about 75-percent speed.
The doctors finally cleared him to compete April 26. Two days later, he ran in the Bulldogs Invitational hosted by Inland Lakes, helping a team of Jacob Marsh, Kyle May and Mays take third in the 1,600 relay (3:49).
"It was pretty great," Cassisi said. "It was an emotional moment, for sure, to get back on the track.
"I'm not going to lie I was a little nervous. It was pretty emotional to finish a race again. It was a small accomplishment, but it was something I was proud of for what I had just gone through."
But racing for the first time this spring was just one check mark on Cassisi's to-do list.
Now that he's back, he has a lot more goals to tackle.
"I've thought about this a lot actually," he said.
"My first goal was just to get healthy and cleared. Check. Now I want to get back to full speed.
"Then I'm aiming for that 400 record for my high school career. I've been notching down my times. I had a 53 last year. The record is 50.9, so I'm aiming to get my time down to a 52 once I get back to full speed.
"The team goal is we want to win the conference, and that's our whole team's mindset. And I want to be All-Conference.
"At regionals, I want to (qualify) to run at states again and place there and be All-State. It was fun last year, and I got that little hump out of the way. Now I'm ready to place there."
But first Cassisi has to get back to 100-percent speed, something that could take him a few meets to do.
Either way, the junior is done sitting out. It's his time to shine now.
"I'm getting there," he said. "I just have to get up to speed still."
Cassisi helped the Cardinals during an invitational J-L hosted Monday, as they placed second out of 13 teams.
Inland Lakes won the meet by scoring 149.50 points, followed by J-L (145 points), Grand Traverse Academy (76), Mancelona (74) and Onaway (56). St. Mary placed seventh (29.50).
Cassisi placed fifth in the 400 (57.71).
Troy Boughner won the 200 (24.08) and long jump (18-11). He joined Mays, Timmy LaPointe and Ethan May in winning the 400 relay (46.26). A team of Boughner, Mays, Marsh and Ethan May won the 800 relay (1:36).
LaPointe placed first in the 110-meter hurdles (17.44) and third in the 300 hurdles (46.94), and Ethan May was first in the 100 (11.90) and third in the 200 (24.73).
Mike Courterier won the pole vault (13-00) while Wells placed second in both the discus (137-03) and shot put (39-05).
Marsh took second in the 400 (54.94), and Mays was fourth in the 400 (57.46).
A team of LaPointe, Kyle May, Nathan Idalski and Nathan Lawrence placed fourth in the 3,200 relay (9:46.14).
Levi Milan led the Snowbirds by placing first in the high jump (5-09) and third in the 800 (2:15.02).
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
INDIAN RIVER — Destiny Sherbonda didn't have the start to the girls track and field season she had once hoped for earlier this school year.
Blame the Johannesburg-Lewiston sophomore's right kidney.
Sherbonda, one of the Cardinals' up-and-coming sprinters, had battled what doctors initially believed to be only kidney reflux.
She dealt with the condition for years until she randomly got a urinary tract infection earlier this school year — something that turned her life into a whirlwind the past six months.
"I randomly got the urinary tract infection," Sherbonda said. "I got some medicine for it, but then I went back with a kidney infection that sent me to the hospital during homecoming week.
"Two weeks later, the infection was gone, but they had me get an ultrasound and found my right kidney was shrinking. I went to the DeVos Children's Hospital (Dec. 11), did more testing, and they said we might as well remove it."
Surgery removed Sherbonda's right kidney Feb. 9. She missed over a week of school while recovering at home and wasn't allowed to finish the rest of the junior varsity girls basketball season.
She wouldn't have wanted to try to play anyway. Doctors made an incision near her pubic bone that made it difficult for her to bend over or stand up without suffering furious bouts of pain.
But that pain while recovering was all for a good cause, she thought.
"I couldn't run or do sports activities for a whole month," she said.
"I was kind of disappointed because I wanted to end the (basketball season). But it's what I had to do because track is my priority. It's what I want to do in college.
"I cut basketball short because I knew once track started, I could start running because I knew I'd have a month (to recover from surgery)."
Sherbonda's recovery finished on schedule, and she traveled with the Cardinals to their season-opening meet April 14 at Inland Lakes.
She was confident she was ready to compete.
"I had never run that bad in a long time," she said. "I wasn't expecting that. I was disappointed but had to realize I was coming off surgery and hadn't sprinted full out in a long time."
After the meet, her confidence began to disappear.
"It was definitely stressful," Sherbonda said. "I didn't know what I could do. I didn't know what I could do or how I would be feeling."
Sherbonda's frustration limited her for awhile. Support from her teammates and coach, Kevin Kennedy, helped restore some of her confidence, and then an improved effort during a meet April 16 at Bellaire proved Sherbonda's only limitations were in her head.
"I just told her to hang in there and keep working hard," Kennedy said. "Everything comes with time and eventually works out. She's trusted me on that before.
"We went through a couple things last year, and she's kind of the kid who always wants to do better and wants a little more. You can't coach that kind of mindset."
Sherbonda helped the Cardinals place second at Bellaire.
She joined the 400-meter relay team, and they placed third (56.70).
In the long jump, she took second place (13-04.75) and in the 100-meter dash, she finished fourth but also set a personal record (13.73).
"She's not limited at all," Kennedy said. "This girl has so much heart that I don't think losing a kidney will slow her down. She loves track, is very coachable and is a sweetheart kid.
"I told her (losing her kidney) would make her run quicker, but she might be lopsided with one side of her body being lighter."
A trip to the emergency room April 20 kept her from running in an invitational April 22 at Mancelona.
"I went to the ER with a lot of pain from where my kidney used to be," Sherbonda said. "We wanted to make sure the cap on my bladder didn't burst off.
"They said that could happen if I felt a lot of pain. I went to the ER and got a cat scan, but it didn't show anything. I just had another urinary tract infection and fluid in my pubic area."
Although she was happy to know her bladder was OK, Sherbonda was upset she missed the Mancelona meet.
"I just wanted to run," she said. "I don't want to miss anything.
"At the Mancelona meet, I probably could have taken first in the long jump and first in the 100. I looked at the times. I could have won."
Sherbonda has already won, though, by just competing this spring, and she recognizes that and promises not to give up on her teammates.
That was especially so Thursday, as she helped the Cardinals place fourth during the 13-team Bulldogs Invitational at Inland Lakes.
Sault Ste. Marie won the invitational by scoring 142 points, followed by Boyne City (92 points), Inland Lakes (86), J-L (66.50) and Brimley (59.50).
Sherbonda tied for third in the long jump (13-50.50) and took seventh in the 100 (14.18).
Taylor Kroll led J-L by winning the discus (95-10) and shot put (34-11) while the Cardinals' relay team placed first in the 400-meter relay (56.07).
Savannah Walter took second in the pole vault (8-00), and Samantha Morehouse placed fourth in the 1,600 (6:11.72).
St. Mary scored 45 points and placed sixth in the invitational.
A team of Alex Hunter, Emma Jo Cherwinski, Elizabeth Harbin and Bailey Juneac placed second in the 800 relay (2:00.62) and third in the 1,600 relay (4:49.00).
Maggie Schultz, Emma Cherry, Cherwinski and Harbin were fourth in the 3,200 relay (12:80.12).
Cherwinski placed third in the 400 (1:06.93), Hunter was fourth in the 300-meter hurdles (56.64) and Samantha Harvey finished fourth in the high jump (4-06).
In boys action, Ethan May won three events to push J-L to a second-place finish in the invitational.
Sault High scored 156 points to place first, followed by the Cardinals (119.50), Inland Lakes (110), Cheboygan (53) and Mancelona (46).
May won the 100 (11.87) and helped two relay teams take first. May, Nick Mays, Jacob Marsh and Troy Boughner won the 800 relay (1:36.13) while May, Mays, Boughner and Timmy LaPointe were first in the 400 relay (46.81).
Boughner won the 200 (23.86) and placed second in the long jump (18-08.50).
Mike Courterier won the pole vault (13-00) and tied for third in the high jump (5-03.20).
Dale Wells finished second in the discus (135-05) and fourth in the shot put (40-04), and LaPointe took second in the 110-meter hurdles (18.25) and 300 hurdles (47.57).
Marsh placed third in the 400 (54.69) and joined Mays, Kyle May and Dominic Cassisi in taking third in the 1,600 relay (3:49).
The invite marked Cassisi's season debut as he returned from an injury he suffered during the football season.
St. Mary scored 10.50 points and placed 10th in the invitational after Levi Milan tied for third in the high jump (5-03.20).
Tough competition: Opponent's throws inspire Kroll to break J-L's discus record
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
BELLAIRE — With the success Taylor Kroll has had competing in the girls discus and shot put and breaking both school records the past two seasons, she knew she'd need some competition to help garner even more success this spring.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston junior received that competition from Sutton Bay's Alauna Oskaboose during the Heidi Steiner Memorial Invitational held April 16 at Bellaire.
During discus warm ups, Oskaboose landed some throws that opened Kroll's eyes, and then Oskaboose threw the discus 109-04 for her first official attempt.
"I watched one girl from Suttons Bay warm up, and I was like, 'Oh, wow, she is good,'" Kroll said. "She literally threw right before me, too.
"I knew I had to beat her after watching her first throw."
Not only did Kroll beat Oskaboose, she once again broke the J-L school record for the discus with her throw of 110-11 which completely obliterated her 105-02 from 2015.
Kroll didn't stop there either. She won the shot put (31-09), helping the Cardinals (96 points) take second place in the invitational.
Inland Lakes (133) won the 11-team meet while Grand Traverse Academy took third (66), Bellaire was fourth (59) and Glen Lake placed fifth (55).
"I think I just needed competition to basically push myself," Kroll said.
Kroll aims to break the discus record again this spring and probably a few times during her senior season next school year.
"I know I can do better," she said. "Yesterday (Thursday) at practice, I was already throwing farther than the record.
"I just need to get it all together during a meet."
Helping Kroll push the Cardinals to their second-place finish was Savannah Walter, who was second in the pole vault (7-00) and joined a pair of relay teams that placed well.
A team of Walter, Madison May, Alicia Korff and Destiny Sherbonda took third in the 400-meter relay (56.70) while Walter, May, Korff and Chelsea Amborski were fourth in the 800 relay (2:05.83).
Jersey Layman placed third in both the 800 (2:49.11) and 1,600 (6:19.57). She also helped Samantha Morehouse, Hannah Donajkowski and Alyssa Bartle place fourth in the 3,200 relay (11:37.56).
Sherbonda was second in the long jump (13-04.75) and fourth in the 100-meter dash (17.73).
Chelsea Ramage took second in the 300-meter hurdles (57.12), and Morehouse placed third in the 3,200 (14:21.42).
The Cardinals continued competing Friday when Kroll won a pair of events to push them to a second-place finish in the Mancelona Invitational.
Lake City (124.5) won the 12-team meet, followed by J-L (105), Bellaire (95), Boyne City (84) and GTA (74).
Kroll won the discus (110-05) and shot put (34-02).
Bartle placed second in the 800 (2:49.97), Morehouse was third in the 3,200 (13:20.91) and Layman finished third in the 1,600 (6:13.12).
Ramage took fourth in the 300 hurdles (55.11), May was fourth in the 100 (14.65) and Walter placed fourth in the pole vault (7-00).
A team of Layman, Morehouse, Donajkowski and Bartle took second in the 3,200 relay (11:52.67), and Walter, Korff, Amborski, and May were fourth in the 400 relay (58.24).
The Cardinals return to action when they compete in an invitational Thursday, April 28 at Inland Lakes.
Wells snaps school record for discus as Cardinals win Heidi Steiner Memorial Invite
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
BELLAIRE — Dale Wells narrowly missed qualifying as a discus thrower for the Division 4 track and field state final last season.
What hurt the then Johannesburg-Lewiston junior was the pressure of the event and his inability to handle it at the moment.
While that pressure might not disappear during this spring's D4 regional, Wells will at least compete with a lot more swagger this time.
That's because the senior broke the J-L school record for furthest discus throw (141-06) during the 10-team Heidi Steiner Memorial Invitational held Saturday at Bellaire.
He also placed first in the shot put (42-00), helping the Cardinals score 103 points to win the invite and beat Inland Lakes (99 points), Grand Traverse Academy (83), Glen Lake (78) and Mancelona (47).
"It's pretty cool that I got the record, and it's what I was looking forward to getting this year," Wells said. "It's kind of cool seeing your name on the (school record board).
"Getting the school record was a goal of mine coming into this year, and it even was last year. I beat (the record) in practice last year, and I actually beat it by 20 feet in practice."
A strict workout regime, which included weight lifting and practicing his discus throws, helped Wells capture the record.
That included him paying careful attention to his steps and movements while throwing.
"I just worked on my spin before spring break," he said. "I'm doing a full spin and few little other pieces that help out.
"I just do a lot of practice and a lot of working out. I work to get fluent (with lifting) because it's amazing how people think it's a muscle game for discus, and it's not. It's a lot of form. I do a lot of reps. You want to be fluent and don't want to be jerky with heavy weights."
Before Wells graduates, he wants to push the school record somewhere in the 150-00 range. That's also a number he hopes he can throw during the D4 regional and state final.
"I'm hoping to put it in the 150s, and I'll be happy," he said. "Last year, (J-L coach Gary Hoffman) showed me a stat sheet, and 153-00 won states. It'd be cool if I did that to take (a state championship) home."
Wells also wants to snap the school record for the shot put (49-00).
"I'm about 5 feet from that record," he said. "I'm planning on doing a different throw to get it because I want to do a spin and not a shuffle.
"I heard from a lot of bigger guys from other schools that say it helps a lot and helps you gain a couple of feet. I've always been doing the shuffle and the glide. But I still got to learn how to spin."
As for the nerves he suffered at last year's D4 regional, he believes they won't be an issue this season.
"Knowing that I've been there will help out a lot more," Wells said. "It's actually no different from a normal meet. The first year I was there, everyone was all worried, but it's really no different from an invitational or any kind of meet that we have here."
A host of other Cardinals joined Wells in getting J-L its first-place finish.
Mike Courterier won the pole vault (13-00), and Troy Boughner took second in the long jump (17-08).
Ethan May was second in the 100-meter dash (11.78) and fourth in the 200 (24.83).
A team of Boughner, May, Nick Mays and Jacob Marsh won the 800-meter relay (1:36.75), and Timmy LaPointe, Boughner, May and Mays were second in the 400 relay (46.53).
Kyle May, Courterier, Mays and Marsh were fourth in the 1,600 relay (3:54.93).
LaPointe placed third in the 110-meter hurdles (18.64), Brad Cole took fourth in the shot put (36-08), Kyle May finished fourth in the 800 (2:16.30) and Mays was fourth in the 400 (57.22).
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
INDIAN RIVER — Why not?
Johannesburg-Lewiston's Mike Courterier placed second in the pole vault (13-07) in the Division 4 track and field state final last spring.
The junior wants to break the D4 state record (15-01) and win a state championship this season.
But his pursuit of those two goals had to wait during the season-opening quad Thursday at Inland Lakes. The snow that accumulated over spring break in Indian River rendered its pole vault and long jump pits unusable.
Instead of waiting around, Courterier tried out the high jump, an event he had never competed in before and had practiced only a few times.
The result? His 5-10 jump gave him a first-place medal. He beat St. Mary senior Levi Milan (5-07, second place), who took third place (6-01) during last year's state final, and Inland Lakes senior Andrew Dufek (5-06, third), the best high jumper in the Ski Valley entering this season.
"I had tried it once before, and I heard people say that I was good at it," Courterier said. "I decided I'd do it. I had done it two or three times.
"The last time I had tried was before spring break, and I think I got 5-06, but I was mainly just screwing around."
What Courterier deemed as beginner's luck could ultimately help the Cardinals score points should he continue to practice the high jump.
"I just kind of mainly wanted to be in it for the points, but I never expected to go anywhere with it," he said. "I just wanted to put some points on the board for the team."
The first-place finish isn't entirely a surprise.
Courterier comes from a family of first-class track athletes. His mother, Tina, still holds four school records at J-L while his sister, Ashley, set the school record for the high jump before earning a roster spot on the Saginaw Valley State University track team in 2014.
Mike's 13-07 in last year's state final set the J-L record for the pole vault, and it's a record he plans to break a few more times.
"I'm definitely going to try and put the record somewhere else," he said. "I'm motivated, and I want to get on the (school record board) with my mom and be a track athlete like my mom and sister.
"I want to try to go somewhere in college with it."
Mike has added about a foot to his vaults each season since he started competing in the event when he was in the eighth grade. He knows the state record (15-01) is within reach because of those improvements.
As for his first crack at the high jump? He'll let the experts snatch that state record as he'll focus on the pole vault this season.
"Basically, I just won (Thursday at Inland Lakes) because of my vertical," Courterier said. "My form was absolutely terrible, and I guess it was just beginner's luck at that point.
"But I'm pretty happy about it, and I was surprised I got 5-10."
Courterier also placed fourth in the 100 (12.68) and joined a team of Rodney Marlatt, Kyle May and Lance Uplegger in taking second in the 1,600 relay (3:57.37).
Inland Lakes won the quad by scoring 93 points, followed by J-L (80.5), Onaway (34.5) and St. Mary (16).
Helping Courterier and the Cardinals was Troy Boughner, who placed second in the 200 (24.40), tied for fourth in the high jump (5-04) and pushed two relay teams to first-place finishes.
A team of Boughner, Jacob Marsh, Nick Mays and Ethan May won the 800-meter relay (1:38.15) while Boughner, Mays, Ethan May and Timmy LaPointe took first in the 400 relay (47.75).
Ethan May placed first in the 100 (12.21) and third in the 200 (25.18), and Dale Wells took first in the discus (133-08) and second in the shot put (42-02).
LaPointe placed second in both the 300-meter hurdles (48.07) and 110 hurdles (18.60) while Mays finished second in the 400 (58.16).
Nathan Idalski was third in the 3,200-meter run (12:24), and then he joined Nathan Lawrence, Kyle May and Marsh in taking second in the 3,200 relay (9:33.50).
Also for the Cardinals, Marlatt placed third in the 400 (58.36), Kyle May was third in the 800 (2:16.85), Danny Mackowiak finished fourth in the 3,200 (13:14) and Patrick Kennedy took fourth in the 300 hurdles (50.81).
Taylor Kroll led the J-L girls team to a second-place finish (50) by winning the discus (97-01) and placing second in the shot put (32-00.5).
Inland Lakes won the quad by scoring 104.5 points while Onaway (37 points) took third and St. Mary (30.5) was last.
Also for the Cardinals, Hannah Donajkowski took second in the 3,200 (15:58) while Samantha Baganz was third (16:18).
Makenzie Sides was third in the 800 (3:00) and Alyssa Bartle placed third in the 1,600 (6:29.60).
Jersey Layman finished fourth in both the 1,600 (6:31.04) and 400 (1:13.59), Jayda Richter placed fourth in the 100 hurdles (21:20), Chelsea Ramage was fourth in the discus (79-04) and Destiny Sherbonda placed fourth in the 200 (31.09).
The Cardinals compete next when they visit Mancelona for a meet Friday, April 22.
By Brandon Folsom - Gaylord Herald Times Sports Editor
JOHANNESBURG — Taylor Kroll's going to do it for herself this time.
Kroll helped the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls track and field team win the Ski Valley title while setting school records in both the shot put and discus last season.
After an admirable effort in the Division 4 regional, then a sophomore, she entered the state final at Hudsonville with all the weight of her hometown on her shoulders.
Kroll didn't live up to her expectations that day. Simply put, she choked, she later admitted Tuesday, as she finished with final distances of 101-00 in the discus (13th place) and 30-03 (20th) in the shot put.
Now her goal for this season is to get back to the state final and put her nerves behind her — leaning on her experience of playing Highland games last summer and becoming one of the top throwers in North America.
"I have a goal not to get freaked out," she said. "I want to go in there and know I'm not doing it to make everyone else happy. I'm doing this because I like to throw and because I want to do this. I want to be in the top eight (in the discus and shot put).
"Last year, I freaked myself out basically. I got a little bit upset with myself, so (J-L coach Kevin Kennedy) pulled me aside.
"I told him I had messed up and let everyone down at home. He told me, 'why are you throwing for everyone at home? You're throwing for yourself.'"
With the help of Gaylord natives and Highland games throwers Dale Gehman and Jason Cherry, Kroll spent last summer training for a handful of Highland games competitions.
She entered three of them — in Gaylord, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, respectively — and took first place in each's women's division. She did so well, she is currently ranked as the 33rd-best thrower in North America.
Competing in the festivals gave Kroll confidence in herself. Most importantly, it gave her experience throwing in high-pressure competitions similar to the track and field state final.
Now the junior is excited to have fun this spring.
"(Competing in the Highland games) helped me have more fun with throwing," she said. "Last year, I got worked up when I threw. Throwing this past summer, I just relaxed and chilled, and it helped a lot.
"When I get tensed up, I tend to throw bad."
Kroll, who should have plenty of opportunities to have fun this season, shouldn't throw badly too often.
Her goal for herself is to break, once again, both the discus (105-2) and shot put (33-9) school record at J-L while recording distances of 38-0 to 48-0 consistently in the shot put and 110-0 to 120-0 in the discus.
Of course, she also wants to rely on her Highland games experience to drum up recruiting buzz from prospective colleges so she can throw at the next level after she graduates next school year.
"(Highland games competitions) are going to help me because throwing for track is the same power-based throwing I've been doing there," Kroll said. "It's a lot of similar technique in a lot of throws I'm doing.
"My goal is to break the records, and that's what I want to do if I want to take this a step further and do it in college. So far I've mostly had interest from Division III colleges. This is the year where I want to send out stuff (film) to get more interest."
Also ready to help Kroll this season is senior Samantha Morehouse, who joined Kroll at last year's state final.
Morehouse competed in the 1,600 meters and placed 24th after finishing in 6:00.88.
The Cardinals also return Savannah Walter (pole vault) and Alyssa Bartle (middle distances), who each could qualify to compete in this spring's state final.
On the boys side, the Cardinals lose former sprinter and hurdler Jeremiah Chappell because of graduation, but they bring back the bulk of their scoring from a season ago.
That includes Dale Wells (thrower), Mike Courterier (pole vault), Nick Mays (relays, sprints), Ethan May (relays, sprints), Dominic Cassisi (relays, sprints) and Nathan Lawrence (distances).
Chappell competed in four events at last year's state final while Mays, May and Cassisi each joined him in the 400-meter and 800-meter relays. Both teams should be competitive once again.
Courterier, on the other hand, holds the school record in the pole vault and placed second in the state final last season (13-07, school record).
JOHANNESBURG-LEWISTON TRACK ARCHIVES
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