By Chip Mundy
Special for Second Half
COMSTOCK PARK – Jackson Lumen Christi came to the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Boys Track and Field Final with just four qualifiers.
The Titans left with a surprising MHSAA championship – the first in school history in track and field.
Lumen Christi’s quartet of athletes totaled 44 points to outdistance runner-up Hillsdale’s 37. Clinton was third with 30 points.
“We weren’t a good dual-meet team, and we didn’t have a lot of depth, but we had some really good individuals,” Lumen Christi coach Mike Woolsey said. “I kind of thought if we put the time in, this sort of thing could happen.
“I’ve seen it with other teams, but never with us. This is great.”
The Titans won only one event. Senior Patrick Ludlow won the 800 in thrilling fashion as he came from behind to nip Ryan Silvestri of Napoleon by less than one second.
“On the first lap, I wanted to be in a good spot in the top two or three,” Ludlow said. “I came around right where I wanted to be. With about 300 to go, I kind of came out first, and then some guys were right with me. Around the 200, I just gutted it out and got the win.”
Ludlow conceded that he did not come to Comstock Park expecting to leave with a team championship.
“Honestly, no. This is so much more than I could have expected,” he said. “It definitely feels better with the team, and it feels good to do both; but to be able to share it with the team is awesome.”
Woolsey said Ludlow followed the script in winning the race.
“He ran the type of race we’ve been practicing all year,” he said. “Watching that race was kind of how I pictured it in my mind.”
Jonathan Scouten, another Lumen Christi senior, had a roller-coaster ride all day. Seeded in the top two in both the shot put and discus, Scouten failed to pick up an individual championship and lost the shot put by a half-inch.
“My day was pretty eventful,” he said. “I was hoping to win both the discus and the shot put, and in the discus I was first going into the finals but ended up getting second. So I was a little disappointed there,” he said. “In the shot put, it was the same thing, except in the finals I ended up losing by a half-inch.
“The whole season has been like this. We’ve been real mellow as a team, and then, what is this? State champions? It’s a blessing. I was about to go home real disappointed, but having this made my day.”
Woolsey said Scouten has gotten to where he is because of hard work and technique and not simply brute strength.
“Over the four years he has improved so much,” Woolsey said. “He’s a hard worker. He’s not the biggest thrower out there, but as far as technique, he’s great. He’s mastered that.”
Lumen Christi junior Wyatt Plate was second in the 200 and third in the 100.
“Plate is just naturally fast, and he has the potential to get even faster,” Woolsey said.
The fourth Lumen Christi athlete to qualify for the meet was junior Jacob Wildenhaus, who took fifth in the 300 hurdles.
Amazingly, there were no multiple individual champions in the meet, and only third-place Clinton managed to bag two titles – one individual and one on a relay.
It was that sort of meet that helped Lumen Christi win a team championship with 44 points.
“You need to have good individuals and have them be on, and it happened,” Woolsey said. “I kind of did the math before and thought we could score a lot of points, but I didn’t know if they would be enough.”
Woolsey has been coaching for 36 years, and he has been involved with winning MHSAA titles for Lumen Christi with boys and girls cross country. But he said winning one in track and field had its own nice touch.
“It’s different,” he said. “Usually with cross country I’m the only coach, so I’m happy for all the other coaches. I’m happy for these kids. It’s fun to be able to take this back to school.”
The other individual champions in the running events were Macomb Lutheran North junior Zach Stadnika in the 110 hurdles, Niles Brandywine senior Andrew Duckett in the 300 hurdles, Sanford-Meridian junior Christian Petre in the 100, Clinton senior Tyler Underwood in the 200, Madison Heights Madison senior Jaylin Golson in the 400, Lansing Catholic senior Keenan Rebera in the 1,600 and Calvin Christian junior Abe Visser in the 3,200.
In the field events, champs were Hesperia junior Nate McKeown (high jump), Reed City junior Nate Fasbender (pole vault), Hillsdale senior Austin Hawkins (long jump), Carson City-Crystal senior Joshua Coston (discus) and Grand Rapids West Catholic junior Carl Myers (shot put).
Hawkins was the defending champion in the long jump.
In the relay events, Clinton won the 40, Marlette the 800, Adrian Madison the 1,600 and Hanover-Horton the 3,200.
PHOTO: Jackson Lumen Christi's Patrick Ludlow finishes his winning 800 run Saturday in helping the Titans to the LP Division 3 team championship. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com. Photo by Jamie Geysbeek.)