Coldwater Sends 7 Shot Putters to Finals

May 26, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Individually, Coldwater’s shot putters might not be the most sizable guys muscling up to the pit at this weekend’s MHSAA Track & Field Finals.

But as a group, the Cardinals might be the largest ever to advance to championship weekend – and perhaps the most athletic as well.

Coldwater has qualified an incredible seven shot putters for the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals at Zeeland.

They’ve been produced by throws coach Mike McConnell, one of the state’s more reputable in those events. But the magnificent seven also are a product of all-around athleticism – six are three-sport athletes, and the seventh plays two sports.

It’s difficult to track if seven qualifying shot putters from the same school was a first-time accomplishment at an MHSAA Regional. But it’s more than fair to call it rare.

“We have three seniors that are the cornerstone of our throwing team, but through the course of this year we have had three juniors and a freshman that have stepped up with them to make us, what I like to believe, one of the best throwing teams in the state,” Coldwater head boys track & field coach Jeff Schorfhaar said. “A lot of this has to do with the athleticism of our throwers … (and) I believe, and of course I am biased, that (McConnell) is one of the best throwing coaches in the state of Michigan.

“This will be something that we will remember for a long time, no matter what happens Saturday at Zeeland.”

McConnell’s work speaks for itself over two decades of Finals placers. He’s had at least one thrower score at an MHSAA Finals in 22 of the last 24 seasons at Coldwater and formerly Camden-Frontier. Highlighting some of the most recent successes, Coldwater’s Logan Targgart won shot put in Division 2 in 2015 and discus in 2014.

Senior Connor Covert, who finished fifth in both shot put and discus at the 2016 LP Division 2 Finals, led a group of Cardinals that took the top seven places in shot put at the Regional two weeks ago in Mason. Four throwers tossed personal records – third-place freshman Dylan Targgart, fifth-place junior Nathan Spray, sixth-place junior Cole Targgart and seventh-place senior Colin Klein. 

Covert and senior runner-up Sam DeMeester advanced to the Finals by finishing among the top two in the event. The other five Coldwater throwers cleared the automatic qualifying standard of 48 feet, 5 inches. Fourth-place junior Zach Gipple joined the personal record-setters with his third-farthest toss of this season.

DeMeester and Gipple also competed at the Finals in shot put last season, DeMeester just missing the medal stand with a ninth place finish. Covert’s 54-7 at this year’s Regional was half an inch farther than last year’s Finals throw. He, Dylan Targgart and Cole Targgart also made the Finals in discus, Covert and Dylan Targgart finishing first and second, respectively, at the Regional with Cole Targgart coming in fourth but clearing the automatic qualifying standard of 142-0.

The Coldwater boys track & field team is enjoying another memorable season as a whole and will be seeking a fourth straight top-10 Finals finish and winning its league and that Regional earlier this month.

Last season, they Cardinals finished eighth as a team at the LP Division 2 Finals, but only 3.5 points out of fifth. Theys were ranked fifth in the final Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association LP Division 2 poll two weeks ago before finishing ahead of No. 3 Battle Creek Harper Creek at both the Regional and league meets.

Block, Pilgrims Power to 1st League Title

We told the story at the start of this month of Lansing Christian junior Dawson Block, a multi-sport athlete contributing to three teams this spring – golf, baseball and track & field.

He’s now also a champion.

Block helped the Pilgrims to their first-ever league title in boys golf, as Lansing Christian finished one point ahead of Olivet in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference standings based on league jamborees and the end-of-season tournament.

Lansing Christian topped the standings heading into that final tournament, at Michigan State’s Forest Akers East, needing to finish no lower than second to clinch the title. Furthermore, they had to play without two seniors who were on a class trip to Washington, D.C.

With only five players available, the Pilgrims did finish second, just three strokes behind the Eagles. Parker Jamieson and Andrew Preiskorn were co-medalists with 83s, and Block shot a fourth-place 86 – in doing so, he earned the seventh and final spot on the all-league first team.

Block and his golf team continue their season Thursday with a Division 4 Regional at Hastings Country Club, seeking to make the MHSAA Finals for the first time. His baseball team will play in a Division 4 District on Saturday at Potterville. And while Block didn’t advance to the Division 4 Track & Field Finals, he did run a personal record and fifth-place 10:44.62 in the 3,200 meters at his Regional after finishing fourth in the 1,600 in 4:51.84.

PHOTOS: (Top) Coldwater’s throwers and throws coach, from left: Cole Targgart, Dylan Targgart, Zach Gipple, Colin Klein, coach Mike McConnell, Connor Covert, Sam DeMeester and Nathan Spray. (Middle) Lansing Christian’s boys golf team celebrates its first league title. (Photos courtesy of Mason and Lansing Christian’s athletic departments, respectively.)

Hackett Catholic Prep's Baldwin Carrying Hopes from Home to Paris

By Pam Shebest
Special for

July 12, 2024

KALAMAZOO — Heath Baldwin studied Spanish at Hackett Catholic Prep, but he will need to brush up on some French as he heads to Paris to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The recent Michigan State University grad, who earned a master’s degree in marketing and research analytics, will compete in the decathlon, a two-day event Aug. 2-3 at the Stade de France.

While the Olympics will be televised in the United States, because of the time difference, Baldwin’s events will take place locally during the early morning hours.

Wishing him a Bon Voyage, more than 200 former classmates, friends, family and well-wishers plus six television crews congregated Thursday for an impressive sendoff, starting with the Hackett “Summer Ensemble” playing the school fight song.

A 2019 Hackett grad, Baldwin led the track & field team to three Regional championships, two MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 titles, was an individual five-time Finals champion, holds four school records and was named track & field Athlete of the Year for all divisions his senior season by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association.

“I went through a lot at Hackett, obviously, with my dad (Roger)  passing away (in 2016) and I always had a great support system of people who took care of my family and made sure we were doing good,” Baldwin said. “They’ve stuck with me through college, too, following me in all my events and to this point, so it’s cool that I’m doing well now and they’re along for the ride.”

Hackett clears a hurdle during the 2019 MHSAA Finals.The ride will begin Tuesday when Baldwin travels to Germany to train before heading to Paris.

“Everything’s starting to feel more real,” he said. “I think once I get to Germany and start to train with other people, we’ll be able to get a little competitive. I think it will be fun training in Paris.”

Facing a huge crowd in Paris should not be a problem, he said.

“The more people will only help me. I’m a big adrenalin guy. I feel like I get more nervous talking at an event like this than I do for the Olympic Games.

“Once I get out on the track, everything just feels natural to me.”

Naturally a no-brainer

Baldwin’s Finals championships for Hackett had come in high jump, long jump and both hurdles races. Tackling the grueling decathlon was a no-brainer.

“I was good at the hurdles, high jump, long jump, which are three very technical events in the decathlon, so if you’re good at those three, you usually can pick up the other ones pretty easily is what they say,” he said.

“Also, I played baseball as a pitcher, so that correlated with the javelin. A lot of college coaches recruited me off that, I think.”

Baldwin said knew 2024 was an Olympic year, “so I thought it was something I maybe could do. After last year, when I scored above 8,000 points (in the decathlon) for the first time and came in sixth at the USAs, it became a little more realistic for me.”

The personable athlete not only qualified for the Olympics at this year’s U.S. Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., but won the decathlon with a personal best 8,625 points.

He finished first in the shot put (54 feet, 2½ inches), high jump (6-11¾), 110 hurdles (13.77 seconds) and javelin throw (218-9). 

MHSAA trophies Baldwin helped win decorated the stage for his sendoff.Other decathlon events are the 100 dash, long jump, 400 run, discus, pole vault and 1,500 run.

Baldwin earned Great Lakes Region Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year honors and was named first team Academic All-American with a 3.8 GPA.

"We were awestruck at his athletic achievements (at Hackett),” said Judge Paul Bridenstine, the “Voice of the Irish.” 

“While he continued to play football, basketball, baseball exceptionally at Hackett, his athletic life was transformed when he was introduced to (former HCP track & field coach Simon Cholometes).”

Cholometes said Baldwin’s success is something that didn’t come out of nowhere.

“Heath put the wheels in motion a long time ago and worked harder than most people can even fathom,” he said. “I can remember 5:40 in the morning, Heath running sprints up that hill over there,” he said, pointing. “A foot of snow, running sprints up that tall hill.

“In college, he’s a Big 10 champ, three-time All-American, Great Lakes Region Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, MSU’s Athlete of the Year twice, holds five school records plus Big 10 records in heptathlon and decathlon.”

Family won't be far

Baldwin plans to be in Paris for the opening ceremonies and will be cheered on by his mom Suzann, sister Hope and brothers Aiden and Gowan.

The Olympian also will have a remembrance of his late father with him. He has a tattoo of his dad’s signature on the inside of his upper left arm.

A hurdle that was gifted to Baldwin on Thursday.Losing his father “was a big part of my life and obviously changed my perspective in the way I train and the way I live in a way he’d be proud of,” Baldwin said.

“We set some big goals going into this year and it’s been a dream. I love representing the Kalamazoo community and Michigan, Hackett and Michigan State.

“I like to remember everybody I compete for, and I think that gives you a bigger purpose when you go out there. That’s definitely something I’ll be doing at the Olympics in Paris. I’m excited to represent there and hopefully go for a medal.”

PHOTOS (Top) Health Baldwin, seated, signs a hat during his sendoff Thursday at Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep. (2) Baldwin clears a hurdle during the 2019 MHSAA Finals. (3) A hurdle was gifted to Baldwin on Thursday. (4) MHSAA trophies Baldwin helped win decorated the stage for his sendoff. (Sendoff photo by Pam Shebest.)