Cardinals' Courterier ends career as 4-time D4 regional champion in pole vault
EAST JORDAN – Mike Courterier decided to suck it up finally and put his fears behind him once and for all during the Division 4 boys track and field regional Saturday at Boswell Stadium.
The senior once again broke the school record in the pole vault after recording a height of 14-05.50, surpassing his old mark of 14-03 to become a regional champion for the fourth straight season.
"To be honest, I've had the jitters all season, to the point it's been stressing me out knowing that it's my senior year," Courterier said. "It's my last year, and the only thing I care about is going to states in my final season. Last year I had a bad year at states, and I didn't want this to happen again.
"The weather was bad and chilly with bad headwinds. I was at the point where I didn't care if I did super well. All I cared about was qualifying, whether I go out at 12 feet or by breaking the record. All that mattered to me was qualifying for states."
Once Courterier reached 14 feet, he wasn't going to let his fear of heavy winds stop him from breaking the school record.
"The wind isn't physically hard on me but mentally hard on me, and I don't like running against the wind and hearing the loud noises," the senior said. "Once I got right to 14, I said to myself, 'Maybe I'll try to get through this brick wall in my head and try to break the habit of being scared mentally of the wind.'
"I put it behind me and focused on getting over it, and I focused on doing good, and I was able to tune out the wind for the record."
The win automatically qualified Courterier for the D4 state championship June 3 at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids.
He wants to break the state record of 15-01 set by Coleman's Curtis Bell in 2014.
Until then, he's basking in becoming a four-time regional champion.
"It feels good," Courterier said. "When I started in the seventh grade and was jumping 7 feet, I never thought I'd be able to take first every year or go undefeated in my conference in every season but my freshman year.
"It's nice to reminisce about how much hard work and dedication it takes to get to today, and, adding it all up, it was all well worth it."
The Cardinals scored 77.5 points to finish third as a team in the regional, while Whittemore-Prescott walked away as the champions and Harbor Springs settled for second place.
Two other boys will be joining Courterier in the state championship, including senior Dominic Cassisi, who took second in both the 100-meter dash (11.56) and 400 (51.07) to garner his automatic bid.
Cassisi also placed third in the 200, but his time of 23.51 was good enough to meet additional qualifying standards to earn a berth in the state championship in that event as well.
Rounding out J-L's runners headed to Grand Rapids was Timmy LaPointe, who became a regional champion in the 110-meter hurdles. The junior finished first in 16.42 – a personal best.
Getting to this point wasn't easy for LaPointe, as he battled a right hamstring that forced him to miss a handful of meets at the beginning of the spring. He still felt the effect of the injury after Saturday's race.
"No, I didn't think I could win (a regional championship) at all at the beginning of the season, actually," the junior said. "I didn't know when I would return. My leg is still sore, so at least I have two weeks to heal that up before states. But I never thought I'd run this fast this year, especially with this injury."
LaPointe entered the event as the No. 2 seed. The No. 1 seed was disqualified after faulting at the starting line.
"It's funny because me and Cameron (Horn of Onaway) talked before the race about, 'Wow, what if someone false started?' because a girl from Onaway did that in the 100 earlier," LaPointe said. "(The No. 1 seed) ended up doing it, and we were blown away by that.
"So I knew I had to win because I had to go to states, and I knew I had to definitely turn it on to make it for time if I didn't win and place. When I came out of the blocks, I could see that I was ahead of them and tried to keep that lead the whole time. It worked out."
J-L will send five members of its girls team to the state final, as the Cardinals scored 116 points and took third in the regional. East Jordan won the meet, followed by Harbor Springs in second place.
Taylor Kroll, who signed with Ashland University (Ohio) for track earlier this spring, placed second in both the shot put (33-10.25) and discus (116-03).
Destiny Sherbonda was second in the long jump (16-02.50), snapping the school record she set in 2016 by .50. The junior also helped the team of Alicia Korff, Madison May and Hannah Collins take second in the 400-meter relay (53.07).
St. Mary had four qualify for the state final, as its girls and boys teams took sixth and 11th place, respectively, in the regional.
On the girls side, Alex Hunter placed second in both the 100 and 300 hurdles, notching times of 18.40 and 54.30 in each event, respectively.
Megan Loffer placed fourth in the discus but met additional qualifying standards because her throw was 96-03.25, while Elizabeth Harbin did the same in the long jump, placing fourth after recording a distance of 15-04.50.
Cal Gilling was St. Mary's lone boy to earn a trip to Grand Rapids. The junior took second in the shot put (41-00.50).
Boy's track finished 3rd in the Regionals with 77.50 points.
Dominic Cassisi qualified in 3 events.
Cardinals' Bartle finding confidence in herself as season progresses
MANCELONA – This spring has been tougher without two of her best friends, but the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls track and field team have still relied on Alyssa Bartle.
The junior distance runner has always depended on teammates Samantha Morehouse and Hannah Donajkowski for inspiration. The only problem is those two graduated last school year, so now it's Bartle trying her best to score points for the Cardinals.
Perhaps her best outing came in the Mancelona Open on Tuesday, as she scored 30 points and pushed the Cardinals to a first-place finish in the 6-team meet.
"It's been difficult because of Sam and Hannah leaving, so I don't have that same motivation or push," Bartle said. "I've been running all four distance events, so it's been very mental (for me to stay focused)."
Bartle won the 3,200-meter run in 14:33.34, a time she admits was a little slow because of how hot the weather was that day, and placed third in both the 1,600 (6:22.99) and 800 (2:49.72). She helped a team of Makenzie Sides, Isabelle Head and Katie Kobylczak take second in the 3,200 relay (11:20.66).
But contributing about 18 percent of her team's final point total was eye-opening to her as was being one of the fastest on the track in her respective events.
"It's scary, to be honest," Bartle said. "It's scary because I've never been in this position before. You're running in the front of everybody, and I don't know if I'm running too fast or running too slow.
"It's scary because I don't know my pace, and it's really all mental. I'm a very confident person and constantly telling myself when I run, 'I can do this! Only one more lap, or only two more laps or only one more mile.' My coach (Kevin Kennedy) is really good at being supportive and helping me with it."
Bartle said her team's workouts for distance runners has helped her improve her pacing over the course of the spring.
She's trimmed almost three minutes off of her time in the mile, and that's given her confidence heading into her final cross-country season this fall, which is her best sport.
"It makes me really proud of myself," she said. "I don't mean to boast about it, but when I was in middle school, nobody thought I could do anything because I only did sprints and hurdles. Once I got into high school, everything changed, like with how I ran and what I ran.
"Now my confidence level is up, and I'm confident in what I can do now."
The Cardinals visit East Jordan to compete in the Division 4 regional Saturday.
Local girls results for Mancelona Open:
Scoring: 1. J-L 166.50 4. St. Mary 40
Shot put: 1. Taylor Kroll J-L 34-08.60
High jump: 1. Jersey Layman J-L 4-06.10 3. Jada Richter J-L 4-04.10
Pole vault: 2. Amelia Lawrence J-L 7-00 3. Taylor Peterson J-L 6-06.10
Long jump: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 15-03.50 2. Alicia Korff J-L 14-04
Discus: 1. Taylor Kroll J-L 111-00 2. Megan Loffer 83-07
3,200 relay: 2. Makenzie Sides, Isabelle Head, Katie Kobylczak, Alyssa Bartle J-L 11:20.66
100 hurdles: 2. Alex Hunter St. Mary 18.59 3. Jada Richter J-L 19.46
100: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 13.44 2. Madison May J-L 13.77 3. Olivea Jeffers St. Mary 13.92
800 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Grace Boden J-L 1:59.89
1,600: 1. Jersey Layman 6:12.65 3. Alyssa Bartle 6:22.99
400 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda J-L 54.31 2. Alex Hunter, Olivea Jeffers, Emma Jo Cherwinski, Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 57.66
400: 1. Emma Jo Cherwinski St. Mary 1:08.34 2. Makenzie Sides J-L 1:09.62
300 hurdles: 1. Alex Hunter St. mary 54.62 2. Jessica Dixon J-L 54.84
800: 1. Jersey Layman J-L 2:43.05 3. Alyssa Bartle J-L 2:49.72
200: 1. Madison May J-L 29.01 3. Grace Boden J-L 29.63
3,200: 1. Alyssa Bartle J-L 14:33.34
1,600 relay: 3. Jada Richter, Emily Wixom, Kate Kobylczak, Makenzie Sides J-L 4:58.75
Local boys results for Mancelona Open:
Scoring: 1. J-L 143 4. St. Mary 39
Shot put: 3. Liam Beningo St. Mary 37-01.50
High jump: 2. Mike Courterier J-L 5-08.10
Pole vault 1. Mike Courterier J-L 14-00
Long jump: 2. Lance Upplegger J-L 17-00.50 3. Alex Cherry St. Mary 17-00
Discus: 2. McGwire Mathewson J-L 104-04 3. Cam Dowling J-L 104-01.75
3,200 relay: 2. Brendan Delaney, Alex Cherry, Kyle Murphy, Jimmy Pandy St. Mary 9:25.01 3. Nathan Idalski, Nathan Lawrence, Tyler Helzer, Cody Layman 9:56.84
110 hurdles: 1. Timmy LaPointe J-L 16.32 2. Nathan Lawrence J-L 20. 51 3. Ryne Bennett 20.99
100: 1. Ron Saddler J-L 12.22 2. Austin Hooper J-L 12.55 3. Alex Cherry St. Mary 12.58
800 relay: 1. Austin Hooper, Ron Saddler, Tyre Curtis, Jacob Marsh J-L 1.38.78 3. Jimmy Pandy, Nick Switalski, Kyle Brown, Blake Stevens St. Mary 1:54.89
1,600: 1. Kyle May J-L 5:08.25
400 relay: 1. Timmy LaPointe, Ron Saddler, Jacob Marsh, Dominic Cassisi J-L 47.21
400: 1. Jacob Marsh J-L 57.88 3. Blake Stevens St. Mary 58.75
300 hurdles: 2. Timmy LaPointe J-L 47.25 3. Elijah Fisher J-L 51.02
800: 1. Nathan Idalski J-L 2:13.18
3,200: 1. Brendan Delaney St. Mary 10:46.43 3. Nathan Idalski J-L 11:34.24
1,600 relay: 1. Elijah Fisher, Kyle Robbins, Ron Saddler, Kyle May J-L 3:54.26
Repeat! Cardinals win Ski Valley championship for 2nd straight year
BELLAIRE – Taylor Kroll knew it'd take an extra special effort from the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls track and field team to win a Ski Valley championship.
During the Championships held Friday at Bellaire, the senior recalled watching teammate Jersey Layman put it all on the line.
"It was awesome to watch, especially when I was watching the 800," Kroll said. "I was talking to them before they ran the race, and Jersey Layman was telling me how she was like dying and couldn't breathe (because of a previous event). She said, 'I don't know what to do.'
"I just said, 'Jersey, run the best you can for the team,' and she was in ninth place when she started and ended up in fifth. I was so amazed."
Performances like Layman's are what helped the Cardinals score 188.50 points and win the meet to claim their second straight Ski Valley title.
Inland Lakes took second place with 173 points.
"We knew it was going to be close," Kroll continued. "It was going to be between 10 or so points, and (J-L coach Kevin Kennedy) told us no matter what happens, we're still a good team. So we went in saying, 'We're going to do this,' and we were going to make it work."
Kroll, the squad's senior leader, walked away with a pair of first-place finishes to help her team in her final Championships before she heads to Ashland University (Ohio) to became a thrower for its women's track team next fall.
Kroll won the discus with a distance of 113-04 and took first in the shot put with a 34-11.
"I honestly was so nervous," she said. "And I don't get nervous. We didn't have school before the meet, so I was in my room and just cleaning everything because I was freaking out so much.
"I was listening to the other girls on the team talk about being nervous, and I was on the bus ride and wouldn't shut up. I kept thinking I was going to throw up. I got there and sat there and said to myself, 'Why am I so nervous right now? This is dumb.'"
Kroll rebounded and blew away the field to easily claim the fourth and fifth individual conference titles, respectively, of her career.
"I definitely had a lot of room for improvement," the senior said. "I'm happy with where the numbers were because I haven't been doing my best, but they're getting back up there to where I was at the beginning of the season.
"I'm happy with it (five wins in Championships meets to end her career). It was a good meet for us."
The J-L boys track team narrowly missed winning a conference championship.
Inland Lakes (177.83) edged the Cardinals (174.33) by fewer than three points to earn the title, despite J-L winning seven events and receiving 40 points from senior Dominic Cassisi.
Local girls hand-time results for the Ski Valley Championships:
Scoring: 1. J-L 188.50; 2. Inland Lakes 173; 4. St. Mary 62
Discus: 1. Taylor Kroll J-L 112-04; 2. Megan Loffer St. Mary 89-06
High jump: 2. Jersey Layman J-L 4-06
Long jump: 1. Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 15-01; 2. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 15-01; 3. Alicia Korff J-L 14-01
Pole vault: 2. Amelia Lawrence J-L 7-00 3. Makenzie Sides 7-00
Shot put: 1. Taylor Kroll 34-11
3,200 relay: 3. Makenzie Sides, Isabelle Head, Katie Kobylczak, Alyssa Bartle J-L 10:59.17
100 hurdles: 2. Alex Hunter St. Mary; 18.18 3. Taylor Peterson J-L 18.74
100: 2. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 13.09; 3. Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 13.091
800 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Grace Boden J-L 1:57.65
1,600: 3. Jersey Layman J-L 5:56.87
400 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda J-L 53.20
400: 1. Emma Jo Cherwinski St. Mary 1:06.20
300 hurdles: 1. Alex Hunter St. Mary 53.63; 3. Jessica Dixon J-L 54.21
200: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 28.13
Local boys hand-time results for the Ski Valley Championships:
Scoring: 1. Inland Lake (177.83); 2. J-L 174.33 6. St. Mary 50
Discus: 2. Cam Dowling J-L 114-00
High jump T2. Lance Upplegger J-L 5-06
Pole vault: 1. Mike Courterier J-L 14-00
Shot put: 2. Cal Gilling St. Mary 40-01
3,200 relay: 2. Nathan Idalski, Cody Layman, Nathan Lawrence, Kyle May J-L 9:47.76; 3. Blake Stevens, Logan Murrell, Kyle Murphy, Dominic Keister St. Mary 10:09.55
110 hurdles: 2. Timmy LaPointe J-L 16.26
100: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 11:02; 2. Brody Markovich St. Mary 11.16; 3. Brady Hunter St. Mary 11.53
800 relay: 1. Austin Hooper, Ron Saddler, Tyre Curtis, Jacob Marsh J-L 1:38.29
1,600: 3. Kyle May 5:02.82
400 relay: 1. Timmy LaPointe, Ron Saddler, Jacob Marsh, Dominic Cassisi J-L 45. 32; 2. Brady Hunter, Alex Cherry, Cal Gilling, Brody Markovich St. Mary 46.46
400: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 51.72; 3. Jacob Marsh J-L 53.01
800: 2. Nathan Idalski J-L 2:09.48
200: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 22.84; 3. Jacob Marsh J-L 23.85
3,200: 1. Nathan Idalski J-L 10:43.81
Cardinals' Kroll snaps discus school record again
For the fifth time in her career, the Johannesburg-Lewiston senior broke the girls track and field team's discus record.
This time she recorded a distance of 118-06.60 to set the new mark which also pushed the Cardinals to first place in an invitational Monday at Central Lake.
The Ashland signee said she has focused on her form and technique.
"I've been struggling in the discus quite a bit," Kroll said. "I think what's happening is I'm trying really hard to fix my form because I have so many people correcting me that I kind of just focused on that, and it has changed my throw a lot."
Those people are the various Ski Valley coaches who wander around the shot put and discus pits at meets.
That also includes her coach, Kevin Kennedy, who has been helping her perfect her form this spring, something Kroll almost finally feels comfortable about.
"My form is just really bad, but they have just been expressing to me how I need to work on the little things," Kroll said. "Once the little things come together, it's going to work out so much better. I think it's finally coming together.
"When I threw it today, it felt good throwing it."
Kroll, who also won the shot put with a distance of 32-03, set the previous discus record (116-03) during a meet last spring.
"I always have more work to do, but I'm looking forward to the next few meets to keep working on my form," she said.
Local girls results for the Central Lake Invitational:
Scoring: 1. J-L 161.5 5. St. Mary 51
Long jump: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 15-00.50 3. Alicia Korff J-L 13-05
Shot put: 1. Taylor Kroll J-L 32-03
High jump: 2. Jada Richter J-L 4-06
Pole Vault: 2. Amelia Lawrence J-L 7-00 3. Tayler Peterson 6-06
Discus: 1. Taylor Kroll J-L 118-06.50
3,200 relay: 3. Makenzie Sides, Alyssa Bartle, Isabelle Head, Jersey Layman J-L 11.40.08
100 hurdles: 2. Alex Hunter St. Mary 18.61
100: 2. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 13.06
1,600: 3. Jersey Layman 6:09.15
400 relay: Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda J-L 54.48
300 hurdles: 1. Alex Hunter St. Mary 54.36
200: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 28.54 3. Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 29.22
3,200: 3. Alyssa Bartle J-L 13:46.27
Cassisi's cold but still heating up for red-hot Cardinals
CENTRAL LAKE – Dominic Cassisi is hoping for better weather.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston senior has braved the elements, especially the whipping winds and cold, to lead the boys track and field team this spring.
Monday was no different. Cassisi won three events and pushed the Cardinals to another first-place finish in an invitational at Central Lake's Herrick Field.
"I've just been wearing layers before running and warming up a lot," he said. I"ve been taking a good 20 minutes before every event to get loose.
"I use the weather to my advantage. I know it's bad for everyone else, too, and I know everyone else is complaining about."
The weather hasn't slowed down Cassisi at all.
He won the 200-meter dash (23.12) as well as the 400 (52.14) and took second in the 100 (11.65).
He joined Timmy LaPointe, Ron Saddler and Jacob Marsh in winning the 400-meter relay (46.62).
His time in the 200 almost tied the school record (23.04) set by his former teammate, Troy Boughner, last season.
And he almost did it in a lot worse weather than Boughner secured the record in.
"Every meet I've been getting a bit faster and chipping down my time and chipping down my time," Cassisi said. "This meet I just blew it up.
"I don't know where that came from. But I can't wait for a nice day. We have all this wind and cold. A 65-degree day is all I can ask for. If I'm running like this and getting these times in this weather, I can't wait to see what I can do in nice weather.
"But running 400s in this crazy wind is not fun, especially when I have to wear leggings, pants, a sweatshirt and a leather jacket and strip down before each event."
Local boys results for the Central Lake Invitational:
Scoring: 1. J-L 151 8. St. Mary 27
High Jump 2. Mike Courterier J-L 5-07 3. Lance Upplegger 5-07
Pole vault: 1. Mike Courterier J-L 14-00
1,200 relay: 3. Nathan Idalski, Tyler Helzer, Cody Layman, Kyle May J-L 9:20.90
110 hurdles: 3. Timmy LaPointe J-L 16.94
100: 2. Dominic Cassisi J-L 11.65
800 relay: 2. Timmy LaPointe, Tyre Curtis, Ron Saddler, Jacob Marsh J-L 1:39.60
400: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 52.14
200: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 23.12
3,200: 3. Nathan Idalski J-L 10:49.53
LaPointe returns from hamstring injury to help Cardinals in hurdles
FAIRVIEW – The Johannesburg-Lewiston boys track and field team was fortunate to navigate the beginning
Timmy LaPointe missed the start of the spring with a right hamstring injury.
Now the junior is almost back to full strength, and the Cardinals are continuing their reign in Division 4.
That included LaPointe winning a pair of events to help J-L place first in an invitational Friday at Fairview.
"Toward the beginning of the year, I pulled my hamstring, and it was really sore for awhile, and I wasn't running during the first few meets," he said. "I don't think it was a big deal because I only missed some quads, so I had to wait a bit to get started.
"(When I returned to the team), I didn't know what to expect. It's still sore a little bit, but I'm running pretty well right now."
LaPointe helped a team of Logan Finnerty, Jacob Marsh and Dominic Cassisi win the 400-meter relay (46.16).
But he also regained his dominance in the 110-meter hurdles. He won the event, finishing in 16.54.
That time would have qualified him for the D4 state final had it been a regional meet.
"I was really shocked by that, honestly," he said. "That's good enough to go to states, and I was seeded third and just came out and ran a 16.5.
"It hurt, but I guess when I was running, I didn't think about it as much. It was more afterward when it felt sore."
LaPointe said he has continued to ice his hamstring to keep him available for meets.
He's hoping he can shave more time off his hurdles now that he's almost back to full strength.
"It's really exciting to me (to bounce back)," the junior said. "Last year, I wanted to go to states in the 110 hurdles, and I didn't get to go. Now that I know I can do it (run a qualifying time) when my leg is still sore, I know I can still do better, and it's exciting because now I know I can make it to states.
Local boys results for the Fairview Invitational:
Scoring: 1. J-L 152
Pole vault: 1. Mike Courterier 13-00
Shot put: 1. McGwire Mathewson 38-03.50
Discus: 2. McGwire Mathewson 108-08 3. Cam Dowling 107-02
3,200 relay: 3. Nathan Idalski, Nathan Lawrence, Tyler Helzer, Kyle May 9:30.51
110 hurdles: 1. Timmy LaPointe 16.54
100: 1. Dominic Cassisi 11.37
800 relay: 1. Logan Finnerty, Tyre Curtis, Ron Saddler, Jacob Marsh 1:38.39
1,600: 3. Kyle May 5:07.21
400 relay: 1. Timmy LaPointe, Logan Finnerty, Jacob Marsh, Dominic Cassisi 46.16
400: 2. Dominic Cassisi 52.35 3. Jacob Marsh 54.25
800: 3. Kyle May 2:17.94
200: 2. Dominic Cassisi 23.20
3,200: 3.Nathan Idalski 10:54.55
How Google has kept a Cardinals' relay team undefeated this spring
By Brandon Folsom ~ Gaylord Herald Times
FAIRVIEW – A relay from the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls track and field team might have coach Kevin Kennedy's Google skills to thank for their success.
The 400-meter relay team of Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins and Destiny Sherbonda hasn't lost a race yet this season.
That's all first-place finishes.
The foursome kept that streak alive during an invitational Friday at Fairview when they won the 400 relay in 1:00.03 and helped the Cardinals take first in the meet.
The key to their success? Handoff's.
"Last year, we were very up and down with our handoff's and were really bad," Korff said. "Before our Fairview meet at this time last year, we changed it up, and it's been better ever since. It's been fantastic.
"Coach looked up how to do good handoff's, and we tried it. It worked for us."
Yes, Kennedy Googled effective handoff techniques for relay runners.
The girls have dropped six seconds off their time since a year ago – and they made it to the Division 4 state final last season.
If you were to convert their time from Friday to FAT time, which is the standard the school's record book is in, they ran the event in 53.84.
The school record, set in 1999, is 52.00.
"So we're getting close," Korff noted. "Last year, in our first meet, we ran it in one minute. This year, our first time was a 54.80."
Added May: "Last year, we started around a 59 and got down to a 55 overall, and we have shaved off a bunch of time off that already. We ran a 53 on Friday, and that's what we ran at states last year, so we're already faster because of our handoff's and the technique Mr. Kennedy Googled.
"I don't know how he found it, but he found it, and it's working."
The other change to this year's relay is the departure of Savannah Walter, who was a senior last year.
The team has added Collins and hasn't looked back.
"That's actually pretty cool," said May, talking about the addition of Collins. "We've worked for it all season long and have worked on handoff's all throughout practice, and when we get to meets, it comes naturally to us, I guess.
"We started off strong last year. When Savannah graduated, we weren't too sure what would happen this year, but it's proving to be better than last year, and we're only juniors, so we have a whole other year to get better."
The foursome hopes to qualify for the state final for a second-straight year.
The thought of doing that is hard to believe, May said.
It's almost as hard to believe as Kennedy finding the secret to their success on Google.
"It's a pretty amazing feeling because it's all about the work in practice and those handoff's," May continued. "It's a team effort. You go to meets and just run. The motivation and heart you feel, that's what you feel at meets. Once we cross that finish line, and there's no one close behind us, it's just an amazing feeling.
"No one is ever close to us either. They're usually 20 to 40 meters behind us."
Local girls results for the Fairview Invitational:
Scoring: 1. J-L 205
Pole vault: 3. Taylor Peterson 7-00.01
Shot put: 1. Taylor Kroll 35-09
High jump: T2. Kristen McCormic 4-03 T2. Jada Richter 4-03
Long jump: 1. Destiny Sherbonda 15-09.50 2. Grace Boden 15-07.25
Discus: 1. Taylor Kroll 107-08
3,200 relay: 1. Makenzie Sides, Isabelle Head, Shawna Drumb, Alyssa Bartle 11:53.37
800 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Grace Boden 2:00.03
1,600: 2. Jersey Layman 6:12.73 3. Alyssa Bartle 6:24.47
400: 3. Makenzie Sides 1:09.84
400 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda 1:01.03
100 hurdles: Jessica Dixon 56.03
800: 3. Jersey Layman 2:49.68
200: 3. Destiny Sherbonda 28.40
The JL Girls won the Fairview Invitational Friday night scoring 205 points.
Sherbonda finding motivation to lead Cardinals' track team
INDIAN RIVER – Destiny Sherbonda isn't exactly sure where her motivation comes from.
Maybe it's from the varying illnesses she's battled throughout her track and field career, or maybe it's the fact she was hospitalized as a sophomore and needed her right kidney removed.
Either way, the Johannesburg-Lewiston junior is back this spring and kicking butt.
"I guess it's just my determination," Sherbonda said. "I told (J-L girls coach Kevin Kennedy) after the second meet I was upset with myself because I didn't run as well as I wanted to. I told him I just wanted to be faster, so I've just been really focusing on getting PR's and going as fast as I can."
It's been one month since that second meet. Sherbonda's getting faster – and jumping better.
She helped the Cardinals take third in the 11-team Bulldog Invitational held April 27 at Inland Lakes.
She took third in the 200-meter dash (29.67) and won the long jump (14-04.50).
She also helped a team of Alicia Korff, Madison May and Hannah Collins win the 400-meter relay (55.10) and 800 relay (1:59.16), a pair of relays the girls hope do well in the Division 4 regional.
She's happy with how consistently she's been placing in the top three of events, but she still wants to get even faster to ensure she makes it to the state final.
"I'm really happy with where I'm at, placing-wise, because last year I don't think I placed that high in every single meet, especially the 200," she said. "In the 200, I never took first in a meet unless there were only three schools there. The 200 has been crazy for me this year."
A lot of Sherbonda's success can be chalked up to her experience running indoor track this past winter. She attended as many meets as she could – with the closest one being two hours away – and almost went to a meet every weekend.
That kept her prepared for the spring season, especially with how comfortable she was getting out of the blocks and staying fundamentally sound in the long jump. It also kept her in shape.
"I was just there to PR for myself," she said. "I wasn't looking for first places or to be first in my heat. I just wanted to see what I could do against bigger schools and people I didn't even know. It was basically to get me ready for the outdoor season."
Local girls track results for Bulldog Invitational
Scoring: 3. J-L 8. St. Mary
200: 3. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 29.67
100 hurdles: 3. Alex Hunter St. Mary 19:35
300 hurdles: 3. Jessica Dixon J-L 56.52
400 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda J-L 55.10
800 relay: 3. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda J-L 1:59.16
Long jump: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 14-04.50 2. Alicia Korff J-L 14-04.50
Discus: 2. Taylor Kroll J-L 101-10
Shot put: 2. Taylor Kroll J-L 35-11
High jump: T2. Jersey Layman 4-06
Pole Vault: 3. Taylor Peterson 7-00
Local boys track results for Bulldog Invitational
Scoring: 1. J-L 9. St. Mary
Pole vault: 1. Mike Courterier J-L 11-11
Shot put: 3. McGwire Mathewson J-L 36-09
High jump: 1. Mike Courterier J-L 5-08 3. Lance Upplegger J-L 5-06
110 hurdles: 1. Timmy LaPointe J-L 17.07
100: 2. Brody Markovich St. Mary 11.89 3. Dominic Cassisi J-L 11.98
400 relay: 2. Logan Finnerty, Timmy LaPointe, Jacob Marsh, Dominic Cassisi J-L 46.63 3. Cal Gilling, Jimmy Pandy, Blake Stevens, Brody Markovich St. Mary 49.11
400: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 52.78 3. Jacob Marsh J-L 53.78
300 hurdles: 2. Timmy LaPointe 46.93
200: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 24.19
3,200: 1. Nathan Idalski J-L 10:44 2. Brendan Delaney St. Mary 10:45
JOHANNESBURG – Makenzie Sides will continue running in honor of a lost friend when she gets to college next fall.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston senior signed her national letter of intent to join the Defiance College women's track and field during a special celebration in the school's library Friday. Defiance is a Division III school in Ohio.
But Sides isn't doing this just for herself. She wants to keep competing in honor of her friend, former St. Mary student Brenden Gorney, who lost his battle with Degos disease in April of last spring.
"We went to school together when we were little," Sides said. "He was my first friend at St. Mary, and we stayed close after I moved to Joburg. When he passed away, it was really hard. I actually found out about his death when I was at track."
Sides and Gorney used to support each other in whatever sports they were playing at the time.
For Gorney, it was always football and basketball. But in the spring, he was at track meets cheering on Sides.
"A lot of the time when I ran, it really pushed me knowing that he was there for me," she said. "After he died, I always run with blue and white ribbons (St. Mary's school colors) in my hair in honor of Brenden.
"Running in honor of him has pushed me a lot. I had the motivation to do good before he died, but I have a lot more of it now."
Sides said the past two seasons have been tough without Gorney on the sidelines. He was her No. 1 fan.
With graduation a month away, she's excited to wrap up her final season of track before she heads to Defiance.
She'll compete in the 400-meter dash and the 1,600 relay while going to school in Ohio. She'll also join the cross-country team – something she hasn't done in high school – to keep her in shape for the track team.
The benefits of playing a sport in college were too good to pass up, Sides said.
"I think it's a great way to continue to run for Brenden, and I really enjoy running, too," she said. "I think it'll help me maintain my grades and give me more motivation to focus on studying for my classes."
Sides also likes the small-school atmosphere at Defiance.
Before signing her NLI, she considered studying at Michigan State.
"I like that Defiance is a lot smaller school (1,083 enrollment) and more personable," she said. "I was between Defiance and Michigan State. Defiance was always very willing to answer my questions, whether it was about a different school or about them. They were there to help me whenever I needed them, and they wanted to see me succeed wherever I went.
The Cardinals have four track meets before they compete in the Division 4 regional.
Sides hopes to make the most of her final days as a high school runner.
"I definitely want to get faster in the 400," she said. "I've been placing consistently in the top 5 in my events, and I want to do better and get my times down. I'd like to see our 4-by-4 team do better, and, I guess, I just really want to get senior over with so I can get to college."
Results at Inland Lakes
MANCELONA – It's no secret why Johannesburg-Lewiston's Dominic Cassisi is enjoying his best start ever to a boys track and field season.
"First of all, this is the best shape I've been in coming into a season," the senior said. "Last year, I came off five months of rehab and was barely jogging. I got cleared (medically) and ran in a meet the very next day.
"I didn't get to condition or get into shape. During the season, I was sore, had shin problems and never got into the greatest shape."
That rehab was for a torn ACL he suffered during the football season. He also battled through a separate shoulder and a pulled hamstring throughout the course of his junior year.
Recovering from a serious knee injury or not, Cassisi helped J-L's relay teams break the school record in the 400 (44.9) and 800 (1:32.09) relays. He's the only member of those relays, which included Troy Boughner, Ethan May and Nick Mays, who returned to the Cardinals this spring.
But that hasn't stopped him from keeping his sights on another successful season.
"Definitely, we want to win the conference," he said. "That is on the top of our minds. That's all we're focusing on. We want to win the conference, go to regionals, send a bunch of events to states and break a bunch of school records.
"We haven't won the conference since 2005, and I've never won a conference title in high school."
Cassisi and the Cardinals got another crack at seeing how they stack up against some of their Ski Valley running mates when they competed in an invitational Friday at Mancelona.
J-L took second place, while St. Mary finished in fourth.
Once again, Cassisi found himself in a head-to-head competition with St. Mary's Brody Markovich.
Cassisi edged Markovich in both the 100- and 200-meter dash to earn a pair of first places. Cassisi finished the 100 in 11.80, while Markovich took second with a time of 11.95.
He was first in the 200 with a time of 24.12, followed by Markovich in second with a 24.30.
Cassisi also took second place in the 400 (53.64).
The senior credits his winter conditioning with helping him get into such good shape this spring.
"After Christmas break, I went at it hard, ran in the halls three days a week and this is the best shape I've been coming into a season, and it has shown in practice," Cassisi said.
On the girls side, J-L senior Taylor Kroll having her college decision out of the way has allowed the J-L senior to relax and focus on being the top thrower in the Ski Valley this spring.
Kroll signed with Ashland University, a Division II school in Ohio, earlier this school year.
Her goal is to continue to break the school records in the shot put and discus.
"I kind of want to prove to everyone what I can do and show everyone what I can do," said Kroll, who broke the shot put record once again during a meet two weeks ago with a heave of 36-10. "I want to continue to break my records again because I feel like I can do better than those. I want to keep doing better because I can show everyone I can do it (be good enough to compete for a Div. II college team next year).
Kroll also set the school record in the discus as a junior last season with an attempt of 115-04.
She was a ways off of her marks during Friday's meet at Mancelona.
Kroll helped the Cardinals take second place. St. Mary finished in fourth.
She took first in both the shot put (36-01.50) and discus (98-05).
By the end of the spring, she hopes to add 4 feet to her mark in the shot put and 20 more feet in the discus.
Of course, like Cassisi, she hopes the Cardinals can bring home another conference title.
"I really think we're in the running to win the Ski Valley," Kroll said. "We might have a small team, but we're very dedicated and want to win.
"If something bad happens at a meet, it doesn't matter. We're back at it the next day. We're up and grinding again."
Local boys results from the Mancelona Invitational
Scoring: 2. J-L 138.50; 4. St. Mary 63
Shot put: 2 Liam Beningo St. Mary 31-11.75
High jump: 1. Lance Upplegger J-L 5-04
Discus: 2. Cam Dowling J-L 106-02
3,200 relay: 2. Nathan Idalski, Tyler Helzer, Cody Layman, Kyle May J-L 9:26.37
110 hurdles: 3. Timmy LaPointe J-L 17.40
100: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 11.80 2. Brody Markovich St. Mary 11.95
800 relay: Logan Finnerty, Tyre Curtis, Ron Saddler, Jacob Marsh J-L 1:41.07
400: 2. Dominic Cassisi 53.64
200: 1. Dominic Cassisi J-L 24.12 2. Brody Markovich St. Mary 24.30
3,200: 1. Nathan Idalski J-L 10:47.85 2. Brendan Delaney St. Mary 11:04.46
Local girls results from the Mancelona Invitational
Scoring: 2. J-L 162.50; 4. St. Mary 44
Shot put. 1 Taylor Kroll J-L 36-01.50
High jump: 2. Jada Richter J-L 4-04.10
Pole vault: 1. Amelia Lawrence J-L 7-00.40
Discus: 1. Taylor Kroll J-L 98-05
3,200 relay: 2. Makenzie Sides, Morgan Baughman, Taylor Peterson, Alyssa Bartle J-L 11:56.10
100: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 13.85
800 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Grace Boden J-L 2:01.46
1,600: 2. Jersey Layman 6:21.20
400 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda J-L 56.54 2. Alex Hunter, Olivea Jeffers, Emma Jo Cherwinski, Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 56.54
400: 2. Olivea Jeffers St. Mary 1:07.14
300 hurdles: 1. Alex Hunter St. Mary 55.74 2. Jessika Dixon J-L 56.52
200: 2. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 29.28 3. Olivea Jeffers St. Mary 29.81
3,200: 2. Alyssa Bartle J-L 14:25.75
Taylor Kroll has broken the shot put and discus records so many times for the Johannesburg-Lewiston girls track and field team that she can't remember which time this one was.
The senior once again broke the shot put record during an 11-team meet Monday at Bellaire.
Her throw of 36-10 eclipsed the record she set last season (36-01.25) by almost 9 inches, helping the Cardinals take first place as a team for the third-straight meet.
"It's got to be at least the fifth or sixth time I've broken it," Kroll said.
Kroll took second in the discus (104-00).
Getting either of those marks was a surprise to her, though.
The meet got off to a slower start than usual and the officials wouldn't let each thrower warm up.
Kroll, who has won five out of her six events so far this season, was worried.
"I'm going to be really honest: I have no clue how I broke the record," she said. "This meet started out not going so well. I didn't have time to warm up. They changed the rules half way through.
"It was not good."
At first, Bellaire's officials were having its throwers compete in flights. Then it changed. Then the crew wasn't measuring the distances correctly.
"It was very worrying," Kroll said. "My mom was like, 'Seriously, Taylor, don't hurt yourself today.' The (official) apologized to us, and I was thankful for that.
"But I think it kind of built up some frustration inside me. That helped with my throws."
Kroll also managed to keep her form intact, staying low to really got some oomph out of her throws.
She said the throw that got her the school record was one of her better form throws.
It's been only three meets for Kroll, and she has already snapped a school record. She's hoping it's not the last time before she graduates and begins throwing for Ashland University in Ohio next school year.
"I'm thinking my senior season is off to a really good starter, and it's been impressive," Kroll said. "I'm happy where my marks are right now, and I'm happy to keep them moving."
Local results from the Bellaire Invitational
Scoring: 1. J-L 162; 4. St. Mary 58
Discus: 2. Taylor Kroll J-L 104-00
High jump: 1. Jade Richter J-L 4-04
Long jump: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 14-10; 2. Alicia Korff J-L 14-03.50; 3. Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 14-00
Pole Vault: 2. Amelia Lawrence J-L 6-06; 3. Makenzie Sides J-L 6-00; 3. Taylor Peterson J-L 6-00
Shot put: 1. Taylor Kroll J-L 34-10
3,200 relay: 2. Makenzie Sides, Morgan Baughman, Taylor Peterson, Alyssa Bartle J-L 12:04.35
110 hurdles: 1. Alex Hunter St. Mary 18.92
100: 2. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 13.15; 3. Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 13.36
800 relay: 2. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Grace Boden J-L 2:02.97
1,600: 3. Jersey Layman J-L 6:19.25
400 relay: 1. Alicia Korff, Madison May, Hannah Collins, Destiny Sherbonda J-L 54.97; 3. Alex Hunter, Olivea Jeffers, Maggie Schultz, Elizabeth Harbin St. Mary 58.06
300 hurdles: 1. Alex Hunter St. Mary 54.93; Jessika Dixon J-L 56.23
800: 3. Jersey Layman J-L 2:53.03
200: 1. Destiny Sherbonda J-L 28.67; 2. Olivea Jeffers St. Mary 29.12
By Brandon Folsom ~ Gaylord Herald Times
Leave it to a pair of runners from the Johannesburg-Lewiston and St. Mary boys track teams, respectively, to drum up a rivalry.
Through three meets this spring, J-L's Dominic Cassisi and St. Mary's Brody Markovich have battled back and forth in the sprinting events.
Cassisi has edged Markovich; Markovich has edged Cassisi. It's like the 1980s Celtics and Lakers come to life on a rubberized outdoor track.
But it was the Cardinal who got the better side of the Snowbird during an 11-team meet Monday at Bellaire.
Cassisi's four wins helped the Cardinals take first place in the meet.
"We were pushing each other tonight," Cassisi said. "It's a friendly rivalry. Our times are really close to each other. He comes from Texas (as a transfer student), and he just comes out of nowhere.
"But our times are pushing each other, and it's paying off."
Cassisi won the 100-meter dash (11.17), 200 (23.70), and 400 (53.46).
The senior joined Logan Finnerty, Mike Courtier and Jacob Marsh in winning the 400-meter relay (47.09).
"I think it's awesome competition," Markovich said. "He really does push me to do the best I can, definitely. I really think having him to be able to run with and having him running side by side the whole time has pushed me to be 100 percent better."
Markovich, a junior who had to sit out last spring's track season because of MHSAA transfer rules, was right behind Cassisi in both the 100 (11.19) and 200 (23.91), taking second place in each event.
Selfishly, Cassisi admitted he's excited Markovich has stepped up and challenged him during Ski Valley races.
He was worried he wouldn't have a rival to push him to perform at a high level entering this season. He was unsure he'd have a rival after the graduation of J-L's Ethan May and Troy Boughner and going back two years ago, the graduation of Inland Lakes star Danny Flowers.
"(Markovich) is pretty built," Cassisi said. "I kind of knew him a bit from football, but I never knew what kind of a runner he'd be.
"Now we hang out a lot at the end of track meets. It's always, 'You go me!' Or it's, 'I got you!' It's a great little rivalry."
Markovich's goal is to break the school's 100 record, which is 11.41 set by former Snowbird Clay Becker in 2010.
There's a good chance Cassisi will help push him to that mark.
"I'm just going to work as hard as I can," Markovich said. "I'm definitely going to hit the weight room a little more, and I know I'll get that little extra work from Cassisi to help me really do the best I can."
Local results from the Bellaire Invitational
Scoring: 1. J-L 156.50; 7. St. Mary 40
400: 2. Jacob Marsh J-L 54:14
800: 3. Kyle May J-L 2:18:58
3,200: 2. Brendan Delaney St. Mary 10:53.16
800 relay: 2. Jacob Marsh, Logan Finnerty, Tyre Curtis, Ron Saddler J-L 1:41.45
3,200 relay: Kyle May, Tyler Helzer, Nathan Idalski, Cody Layman J-L 9:29.39
Shot put: 2. Liam Beningo St. Mary 38-02; 3. McGwire Mathewson J-L 36-09
Pole Vault: 1. Mike Courterier J-L 13-00
High jump: 1. Mike Courterier J-L 5-06; 3. Lance Upplegger J-L 5-06
Long jump: 2. Lance Upplegger J-L 16-10.50
Cardinals' Courterier breaks pole vault record with family watching
JOHANNESBURG — Mike Courterier said he was happy he didn't choke with his family on hand watching him this time around.
The Johannesburg-Lewiston senior once again broke the school record in the pole vault during a boys track and field meet Wednesday, one in which the Cardinals scored 142.33 points to take first place in.
"This was unlike anything before," Courterier said. "It was cool that my parents were there as was my grandma, my brother and sister were there and my brother's girlfriend was there.
"All my friends and most of my teammates were there watching. I figured it'd be so cool to break the record with everyone I go to school with watching me do the pole vault."
Courterier cleared 14-03 to set the new record.
His old record was 14-00.
He was excited his brother, C.J., finally got to see him do well.
Courterier wasn't surprised he cleared the height. He had expected he'd do so sometime this spring. He didn't expect to do it in the season opener, however, because he had limited practice time before the meet.
Because of spring break and the weather, he had only practiced four times, plus he hadn't been working with the pole he regularly uses in most meets.
"I just had my first couple of practices, and I wasn't using my pole I get height on," Courterier said. "I was using my smaller, shorter and lighter-weighted pole to get back in the groove of pole vaulting.
"I just started using my normal pole again and started jumping on it. It felt really good. I was raising the bungee every 6 inches, and I started to clear 12 feet by a mile."
Courterier's next goal is to clear 14-6, which he thinks he can achieve within the next few weeks or so.
By the end of the season, he wants to break the Division 4 MHSAA record of 15-01.
"My main goal is to get to this point," he said. "My original high school goal was to get at least 14 feet. After breaking that record, I have to set another goal, so why not the state record?"
Dominic Cassisi helped Courterier and the Cardinals by winning all four of the events he competed in during the five-team meet.
The senior took first in the 100-meter dash (12.07), 200 (24.70) and 400 (55.15). He and Courterier were also on a team that placed first in the 400-meter relay (47.41).
Elijah Fisher won the 300-meter hurdles (50.21), while McGwire Mathewson placed first in the shot put (37-00.25) and third in the discus (96-40). Brad Cole was second in the discus (107-00) and third in the shot put (36-00.50).
Kyle May finished second in the 800 (2:21.34) and third in the 1,600-meter run (5:21.26), while Nathan Lawrence was second in the 110 hurdles (20.38) and third in the 300 hurdles (52.67). The duo joined Nathan Idalski and Tyler Helzer in taking second in the 3,200 relay (9:37.04).
Lance Upplegger took second in the high jump (5-02), Wyatt Lowe placed third in the pole vault (10-05) and Logan Finnerty tied third in the long jump (16-07).
The girls team won its portion of the meet, scoring 152 points and notching nine first-place finishes.
That included Jersey Layman winning the 1,600 (6:48) and the high jump (4-00). She joined Isabella Head, Alyssa Bartle and Taylor Peterson in 3,200 relay (12:34.78).
Taylor Kroll won both the discus (109-07.60) and shot put (35-08.50).
Destiny Sherbonda won the 200 (29.96) and helped Alicia Korff, Madison May and Hannah Collins in taking first in the 400 relay (55.44).
Jessika Dixon won the 300 hurdles (59.10), while Taylor Peterson placed first in the pole vault (7-00).
Lady Cardinals spectacular at Inland Lakes meet
• Sherbonda won four events and pushed the J-L girls team to a first-place finish in a five-team meet Thursday at Inland Lakes
Sherbonda won the 100 (14.07), 200 (29.99) and long jump (14-06). She helped Korff, May and Collins win the 400 relay (45.90).
Kroll won both the shot put (35-01.50) and discus (115-03).
Amelia Lawrence (7-00), Makenzie Sides (6-06) and Taylor Peterson (6-00) took first, second and third, respectively, in the pole vault.
Sides also won the 400 (1:11.46).
The boys team placed second in the meet.
Courterier won the pole vault (13-00), Upplegger took first in the high jump (5-03) and Cole placed first in the discus (108-01).
"My brother has only watched me once," Courterier said. "The one time he watched me, I was terrible. It was high-pressure, but I knew I had to do good, but I had to deal with a lot of pressure that meet."
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