By Greg Gielczyk
MANISTEE —Dual-sport standout Ashtyn Janis gave up her senior basketball season at Manistee to focus on track and field, and spent the winter traveling to various colleges to run at indoor meets instead of dribbling the roundball.
While she’s played basketball since the third grade, she decided it was in her best interest to opt for track — specifically the 800-meter relay — and it paid off.
Janis recently signed a national letter of intent to continue her track career at Aquinas College next year. She is the second Chippewa track athlete to move on to the next level.
Her senior teammate, Lacey Zimmerman – another member of the team’s all-state relay team a year ago – committed to Ferris State back in January.
“I knew with my size and skill (that) I wouldn’t be able to go to college for basketball, so track was kind of an option,” said Janis, following a ceremony at Manistee. “(Aquinas) indoor track is only 7 years old, so it’s brand new, and they have a really good track program. It’s also a small school, (and) I didn’t want to go to a big school. It’s a very small community. I’m excited to have a close team.”
Manistee coach Eric Thummel is confident Janis, who he says is a “consummate worker with a great work ethic,” will shine at the college level.
“She’s kind of been the outspoken cog that keeps our relays together,” Thummel said. “She’s the one to rally them together and get them going. Plus, she’s willing to try things out of her comfort zone, even telling me that she would do the long jump if we needed her to do that. I’m so pleased that she could take it to the next level.”
Janis, the daughter of Scott and Jamie Janis, is an honor student with a 3.8 grade-point-average and plans to major in psychology, with the possibility of going into nursing.