By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half
ZEELAND — Everyone else was chasing Joshuwa Hollomon on Saturday as he was chasing his place in MHSAA track and field history.
Hollomon became only the 10th Lower Peninsula boy in the 91-year history of the Finals to win the 100-meter (or 100-yard) dash three times in his career, finishing the feat at the Division 2 meet at Zeeland Stadium.
The Auburn Hills Avondale senior won a tight finish against Flint Southwestern Academy senior Jonathan Fife with a time of 10.71 seconds. Fife's time was 10.81.
Hollomon won the LP Division 1 title as a sophomore in 2013 before taking Division 2 his final two years.
"To win it three years, going unbeaten, I can look back and tell that to my kids one day and say, 'I did this' and have that be an influence on them," Hollomon said. "This is a great accomplishment."
Hollomon is only the third Lower Peninsula boy in the last 24 years to win the 100 three times, joining Baldwin's Jason Johnson (1995-97 Class D) and Sparta's Brandon Vandriel (2007-09 Division 2).
Hollomon also was trying to sweep the 100 and 200 in the Finals for the second straight season, but Fife turned the tables in the 200 to win in 21.55 seconds. Hollomon settled for second in 21.98.
Going into the meet, Hollomon had no idea of what to expect from Fife.
"I don't know anybody I race," said Hollomon, who will play football at the University of Cincinnati. "I don't watch them. I study myself. I know the person next to me on both sides wants to win just as bad as I do. When you get fast people, it makes you faster."
The biggest disappointment for Hollomon came in the 800 relay, as he never received the baton for the final leg because of a dropped first exchange.
While Hollomon has become accustomed to winning MHSAA championships, a school with a championship pedigree in nearly every sport except track and field won its first title.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's scored 52 points to beat runnerup Zeeland East by 7.5.
The Eaglets' best finish in an MHSAA final meet was third in Division 2 in 2006. They laid the groundwork for Saturday's championship by placing fourth last year.
"We broke six school records this year," St. Mary's coach Sean Clouse said. "We're pretty young still. We have a great group of seniors and a lot of young kids, too, so hopefully we'll be back again next year."
Six of the 14 athletes who scored for the Eaglets were sophomores, including 300-meter hurdle champion Richard Bowens. Bowens posted a time of 38.42 seconds and was also on the seventh-place 1,600 relay team.
St. Mary's won the 400 and 800 relays for the second year in a row, but was able to take the team title by having more firepower throughout its lineup. The Eaglets scored in eight events, including all four relays.
Junior Tyler Cochran was on the winning 800 relay team and took third in the 400 in 49.83 seconds. He was also on the seventh-place 1,600 relay unit.
Senior Ross Moore was on both winning relay teams and placed eighth in the long jump. Sophomore Kahlee Hamler was also on both first-place relay teams. Freshman Ky'Ren Cunningham was on the 800 relay team, while sophomore Ryan Johnson rounded out the 400 relay.
Sophomore Trey Bryan was fifth in the long jump, while senior Brian Agomuoh was seventh in the discus.
"Our long jumper surprised us a little bit," Clouse said. "We knew our relay teams were going to do well. We're just so happy with them. The sprint teams doubled up last year and doubled up again this year. Cochran in the 400 came through really big. The hurdler, Bowen, was amazing."
Cool, rainy conditions favored distance runners, but were a detriment to other athletes. Algonac senior Mitchell Mueller was able to repeat as pole vault champion by going 15 feet, 6 inches, but was left wondering what might have been under more ideal conditions. He attempted to break the LP Division 2 Final record of 16-1 set by Marine City's Jaime Salisbury in 2012, but came up short in three tries at 16-2.
"It was definitely challenging," Mueller said. "It kind of stunk that today had to be that kind of day, but I still got to go 15-6, still got a chance to go for the record. By the time we got to the chance to go for the record, it was raining pretty good. The last attempt was pretty close. It was just too much rain, not a good day. It was really cold, but it was still fun and I still had a great time."
Algonac had another champion in junior Morgan Beadlescomb, who won the 1,600 in 4:13.58. He sat on the shoulder of Cedar Springs senior Austin Sargent most of the race before making an explosive move with 300 meters to go. It was a flashback to a similar scenario in the cross country finals in November, when Beadlescomb out-dueled Sargent for the title.
"I work on my kick a lot," Beadlescomb said. "I kind of rely on that. In cross country, it was exactly the same. The last 300 meters is when I took off and won."
The host Zeeland school district had three of the top four finishers in the 800, with senior Sam Plaska of Zeeland West making his move with 100 meters remaining to overtake Sturgis junior Daniel Steele, who had opened up a large lead. Plaska won in 1:55.11, just ahead of Zeeland East's Matt Cramer. East's John Groendyke was fourth in 1:56.83.
"It's unbelievable," Plaska said. "I'm so happy to have the home crowd here, my family and friends cheering me on. It's such a great day."
Zeeland East provided some excitement for the home crowd early by setting the LP Division 2 Final record in the 3,200 relay. The quartet of Scott Binder, Dan Cramer, Matt Cramer and Groendyke won in 7:50.70, breaking Fenton's mark from 2007.
Other individual champions were Freeland's Nathan Whitting in the high jump (6-6), Melvindale's Anthony Fitzgerald in the long jump (22-5), Mason's Justin Scavarda in the discus (172-2), Coldwater's Logan Targgart in the shot put (57-3.75), Lake Odessa Lakewood's Noah Caudy in the 110 hurdles (14.70), St. Johns' Steven Linton in the 400 (49.04) and Corunna's Noah Jacobs in the 3,200 (9:27.49).
Williamston won the 1,600 relay in 3:22.98 with the team of Hunter Grischke, Seth Kerby, Steffan Smalley and Tyler Lamar.
PHOTOS: (Top) Auburn Hills Avondale's Joshuwa Hollomon rushes toward the finish during one of his championship runs Saturday. (Middle) Orchard Lake St. Mary's hoists its first MHSAA track and field championship trophy. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)
LAWRENCE — If redshirting was a thing in high school, at least two coaches at Lawrence would stick that label on senior John Schuman.
“We don’t want to lose this kid ever,” said Derek Gribler, the Tigers’ first-year varsity football and baseball coach.
“If we could put a red shirt on this kid every year, we would.”
Athletic director John Guillean, who also coaches varsity basketball, agreed.
“He is what we strive to have all our student-athletes achieve: high GPAs, multi-sport athletes, good, overall well-rounded human beings,” Guillean said.
Schuman has participated in five of the seven boys sports Lawrence sponsors.
As a freshman and sophomore, Schuman played football, wrestled, ran track and played baseball.
He had wrestled since he was 4, and went from the 119-pound weight class as a freshman to 145 the following year. That sophomore season he qualified for his Individual Regional. But as a junior, he traded wrestling for basketball.
“My older brother wrestled at Lawrence, so I would come to practices,” he said. “I quit for a couple years (in middle school) because I liked basketball, too. It was hard to do both. Obviously, in high school, I still struggled with choosing,” he added, laughing.
Guillean is thrilled Schuman made the switch.
“He’s 6-(foot-)4, he’s super athletic, defensively he’s a hawk, offensively he can put the ball in the bucket. But really, aside from his skills, just that positive attitude and that positive outlook, not just in a game, but in life in general, is invaluable,” the coach said.
Last season, Schuman earned honorable mention all-league honors in the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph Conference, averaging 9.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Lawrence left the BCS for the Southwest 10 Conference this year, joining Bangor, Bloomingdale, Hartford, Decatur, Comstock, Marcellus, Mendon, Centreville, White Pigeon and Cassopolis. Schuman and senior Tim Coombs will co-captain the Tigers, with Guillean rotating in a third captain.
At a school of fewer than 200 students, Schuman will help lead a varsity team with just nine – joined by seniors Andy Bowen and Gabe Gonzalez, juniors Christian Smith, Noel Saldana, Ben McCaw and Zander Payment, and sophomore Jose Hernandez, who will see time with the junior varsity as well using the fifth-quarter rule.
“I attribute a lot of (last year’s successful transition) to my coach, helping me get ready because it wasn’t so pretty,” the senior said. “But we got into it, got going, and my teammates helped me out a lot.”
Gribler is one coach already looking ahead to spring sports after seeing what Schuman did during football season.
In spite of missing 2½ games with an injury, the wide receiver caught 50 receptions for 870 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I just like the ability to run free, get to hit people, let out some anger,” Schuman laughed.
Gribler said the senior is “an insane athlete.
“On top of his athletic ability, how smart he is in the classroom (3.88 GPA), he helped mold the culture we wanted this year for football. He got our underclassmen the way we wanted them. He was a big asset in many ways.”
Schuman earned all-conference honors for his on-field performance in football as well.
“I would say that my main sport is football,” the senior said. “That’s the one I like the most, spend the most time on.”
In the spring, Schuman competed in both track and baseball, earning all-conference honors in both.
“Doing both is tough,” he said. “I have to say my coaches make it a lot easier for me. They help me a lot and give me the ability to do both, so I really appreciate that.
“Throughout the week you’re traveling every day, it seems like. Baseball twice a week and track, but it’s worth it.”
Schuman’s commitment is so strong that he made a special effort not to let his teammates down last spring.
“He qualified for state in the long jump and did his jumps up in Grand Rapids, then he drove all the way to Kalamazoo to play in the District baseball game,” Guillean said. “That speaks volumes about who this kid is. He did his jumps at 9 a.m. (but did not advance) and made it back to Kalamazoo for a 12:15 game.”
Big shoes to fill
As the youngest of four children of Mark and Gretchen Schuman, the senior was following a family tradition in sports.
Oldest brother Matthew played football, basketball and baseball as well as competed in pole vault and wrestling.
Middle bother Christopher competed in football, wrestling and baseball.
Sister Stephanie played basketball, volleyball and softball.
“I like to say they blazed a pretty good trail for me at this high school,” Schuman said.
As for feeling pressure to live up to his siblings, “I used to when I was younger, but now I feel like I’ve made my own way and done enough things to be proud of that I’m happy with it.”
His own way led him to achieve something none of the others did.
He was named the Tigers’ Male Athlete of the Year, just the third junior to earn the boys honor over the last 25 years.
“I was very honored to win that as a junior,” Schuman said. “There were good athletes in the grade above me. I guess hard work pays off.”
Guillean said while Schuman is “darn good at every sport here,” an athlete does not have to be a “top dog” in every sport.
“Learn how to take a back seat,” he said. “Learn how to be a role player. That will make you a better teammate and a well-rounded human being.
“Johnny has that work ethic, in the classroom, on the field, on the court, on the track. It doesn’t go unnoticed and, obviously, he’s reaping the benefits now.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Lawrence’s John Schuman has participated in five varsity sports during his first 3½ years of high school. (Middle) Lawrence athletic director John Guillean. (Below) Lawrence football and baseball coach Derek Gribler. (Action photos courtesy of John Schuman; head shots by Pam Shebest.)