The many who have attended second-floor meetings at the MHSAA Office in East Lansing over the years have at least walked past and hopefully noticed the artistic spin above on a past championship race.
Few may know it depicts one of, if not the most star-studded sprint rivalry in MHSAA track & field history.
On the left is Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Crystal Braddock, with Flint Central’s Patrice Verdun keeping stride. From 1987-89, they met five times in either 100 or 200-meter championship races at Lower Peninsula Class A Finals.
Verdun began her MHSAA Finals run as a freshman in 1986, tying for first in the 100 with Grand Haven’s Michelle Bishop at 12.05 seconds.
A year later, Braddock would join her in the championship heat of that race, finishing seventh (12.47) as Verdun won in 11.98 seconds. Braddock also finished third in 1987 in the 200 (25.12), while Verdun was on the winning 400 relay.
In 1988, the matchup took its first step toward being forever memorable, as Braddock was first and Verdun second in both the 100 and 200. Braddock tied the LP Class A Finals record in the 100 at 11.70, with Verdun just behind her at 11.76 and the next fastest racer at 12.08. It was Braddock first at 24.45 and Verdun second at 24.71 in the 200, with the next fastest after those two crossing the finish nearly a second later. Braddock also ran on the 400 relay champ as Pioneer as a team won its fourth-straight Finals title.
The pair would meet for the last times at an MHSAA Finals in 1989. Again, it was Braddock first and Verdun second in both the 100 and 200. This time the Pioneer sprinter won the 100 in 11.84 to Verdun’s 11.99, and the 200 in 24.90 to her rival’s 25.54. Braddock this time also ran on the winning 1,600 relay, and Pioneer extended its team title streak to five seasons of an eventual seven consecutive as LP Class A champion.
High school track was just the start for the speedy pair. Braddock went on to run at the University of Texas, earning All-America honors four times and helping set a relay record at the World University Games. Verdun earned All-America five times for Florida State University.
And add this in when considering the collective speed of those 100-meter MHSAA Finals races. The third-place finisher in both 1988 and 1989 was Detroit Cass Tech’s Trinette Johnson, who won long jump at both of those meets and also would go on to Florida State – where she was a six-time All-American, including four times in long jump.
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
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