Boys Finals: Hurdles Conquered
June 2, 2012
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
With the number of elite athletes Lake Orion, Auburn Hills Avondale and Lansing Catholic have featured over the last many years, it was somewhat surprising that none had won an MHSAA boys track and field championship.
All three can check that goal off the list after earning first-place trophies for the first time Saturday.
Here's our breakdown of the best from the Boys Finals meets. It's impossible to include every highlight, of course. But feel free to comment below and tell us what we missed.
Lansing Catholic senior Zack Zingsheim gets the edge over Union City’s Chris Maye just as his team finished just ahead of Maye’s for the Division 3 championship. Zingsheim won the 800 in 1:55.97 and also ran on first-place 800, 1,600 and 3,200 relays as the Cougars finished with 68 points and their first MHSAA team championship. The Georgetown University recruit previously has been part of one MHSAA championship relay and also won the Division 3 cross country title in the fall.
LP D2/Pole vault – Jaime Salisbury, Marine City – 16-1
(previous was 16-0.5, set by Fowlerville’s Max Babits in 2010)
LP D2/800 relay – Lansing Sexton (Kendall Jackson, Adrian Sanchez, David Washington, Anthony Goodman) – 1:27.99
(previous was 1:28.11, set by Auburn Hills Avondale in 2011)
LP D2/200 dash – Kassius Kelly, Livonia Clarenceville – 21.36
(previous was 21.70, set by Muskegon Orchard View’s Clinton Allen in 2005)
LP D4/Discus – Jacob Patrick, Litchfield – 190-0
(previous was 170-1, set by Maple City Glen Lake’s Andrew Kemp in 2004)
LP D4/Long jump – Adam Abbott, Detroit Cristo Rey – 22-3.75
(previous was 22-1, set by Centreville’s Kevin Singleton in 2000)
UP D1/300 hurdles – Kenner Broullire, Manistique – 39.74
(previous was 40.01 set by Menominee’s Jason Hofer in 2004)
UP D2/High jump – James Sutton, Newberry – 6-3.5
(previous was 6-3, set by Munising’s Rick St. Amour in 2001)
UP D3/Discus – Brett Branstrom, Rock Mid-Peninsula – 154-8
(previous was 149-1, set by Rapid River’s Richard Poma in 2003)
UP D3/1,600 relay – Crystal Falls Forest Park (Alex Takala, Mark Hallman, Jake Divine, Derek Aberly) – 3:36.32
(previous was 3:37.51, set by Rock Mid-Peninsula in 2007)
Tales of the Trophy
LP D1: Despite just one first place, in the 1,600 relay, Lake Orion held off Grand Blanc to win its first MHSAA team championship, with 50 points. Grand Blanc scored 44, with wins in two relays. Lake Orion also finished runner-up in two relays.
LP D2: Auburn Hills Avondale got wins from Kyle Redwine in the 100 and Nathan Chapman in the 400, plus a relay win, to edge Lansing Sexton 47-40 at the top of the standings despite two Big Reds relay wins.
LP D3: With five event wins, including three in relays, Lansing Catholic also won its first championship – but in commanding style. The Cougars scored 68 points, 23 more than runner-up Union City.
LP D4: After tying for the championship last season, Albion left no question with 49 points, 13 more than Muskegon Western Michigan Christian. Albion swept the relays, with Nolen Mitchell on three of them, and he also tied for first place in the 400.
UP D1: Marquette claimed its third straight championship, this time out-pacing Gladstone by 15 points. Marquette won only three events, but got points from 14 entries.
UP D2: St. Ignace continued its reign with a third-straight championship, putting up 112 points to Stephenson’s 85. Parker Simmons won both the 100 and 200, and the team also won three field events.
UP D3: Pickford has had streaks of dominance before, but won its first championship Saturday since 1992. Jordan Lavinge was part of both event wins, taking first in long jump and running on the 800 relay.
So long, seniors
Drake Johnson, Ann Arbor Pioneer – Won the LP Division 1 championship in the 110 hurdles for the third straight season.
Garret Zuk, White Lake Lakeland – His win in the 3,200 at the LP Division 1 Final was his first in track and field, but he also won the Division 1 cross country title in the fall.
Austin Sanders, Ypsilanti – Sanders had the top-seeded LP Division 1 times in both the 100 and 200, and made good by winning both.
Jake McFadden, Clare – Won both the 110 and 300 hurdles at the LP Division 3 Final to give him four championships total in his career.
Chris Maye, Union City – Carried his team to second place in the LP Division 3 Final with wins in the 100 and 200, a second in the long jump, and as a runner on the winning 400 relay. He won three titles as a junior.
Click for links to all results.
PHOTOS: (Top) Williamston's Austin Loewen (left), Alma's Chaz Bradshaw (center) and Niles' Brandon Partee were among those competing for the Division 2 championship at 110 hurdles. Loewen won the race. (Middle) Auburn Hills Avondale's Kyle Redwine won the 100 and his team won its first MHSAA championship. (Photos courtesy of RunMichigan.com. Click to see more.)
Aspirations High as Reigning Champion Hackett Vaults Into New Season
By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com
March 14, 2023
KALAMAZOO — Harrison Wheeler has not been a pole vaulter for very long – two weeks to be exact – but he already has some lofty goals.
The sophomore is aiming for the Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep record board and, if he makes it, he will be in good company.
Coach Shelly (Martin) Germinder, a 2001 Hackett graduate, still holds the girls record of 10 feet, 2½ inches.
“I’m hoping to have my name next to hers (on the record board),” Wheeler said.
The sophomore has a few feet to go before surpassing current record holder Brian Kucinich, who vaulted 12 feet, 6 inches in 1992.
Wheeler’s unofficial best is 9 feet; officially it is 8 feet, 6 inches.
“That is going to be a very big jump in my pole vaulting career,” he said.
Wheeler is one of 42 athletes on the reigning MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 champion boys team, which includes 12 seniors and 13 juniors. Besides Wheeler, the team has six sophomores and 10 freshmen.
One of the returners is senior Liam Mann, who helped lead the Irish to the Finals title last year.
Mann, Andrew Finley, Evan Wurtz and Isaac Backman won the 800-meter relay with a time of 1:31.55 last season, setting a school record as well.
While he lost his relay mates, Mann said there are good runners to replace them.
“(Senior) Brice Brown is coming out to do track, and I’ve been working with him this winter,” Mann said. “Jude Coffman, who is a sophomore, is coming out this year. I think he’s going to be a good addition to our 4-by-1.
“(Junior) Gabe Oeurn, last year he was running solid times, but this year he’s been putting in the work and I think he’ll be able to break that 12-second barrier.”
Mann, who will attend Ashland (Ohio) University on a track scholarship in the fall, also added gold in the 200-meter dash (22.82) last season.
“Last year, I played basketball and was able to lift to keep in shape,” he said. “This year, I wanted to focus all my time on track, so I’ve been doing indoor track, practicing once a week and going to meets on weekends.”
He continued to put his skills on display as a running back during football season with Kalamazoo United, ending the fall with 1,413 rushing yards on 177 carries and 267 receiving yards on 10 catches.
Opportunities & possibilities
The biggest group of competitors impacted by graduation are the sprinters, coach Charissa Dean said.
“Hackett’s been really big on sprinting talent in general,” she said. “But track has 17 events, and only two of them are open sprint events and two are relays.
“The other 13 are wide open for possibilities, and there’s a lot of younger talent that’s coming back this year. While they didn’t go to the state meet, they are the next generation of athletes coming up.”
Among that next generation are freshmen Marek Butkiewicz and Sean Siems, who “are incredibly talented athletes,” Dean said.
“(Junior) Gavin Sehy figured out how to do the distance thing this year in cross country.”
Sehy said he wanted to run track, but wasn’t sure where he fit.
“I thought I was mid-distance when I was younger, but my dad forced me to do cross country my sixth-grade year and it turned out I was decent at it so I kept doing (long distance) in track,” he said.
“It’s kind of brutal at times to train for long distance, mentally and physically, because you have to go on long runs, but I have fun with it. At the cross country state finals, I hit an 11 flat split at the two-mile, which beat my 3,200 best from last season, so we have yet to see my best times.”
Butkiewicz and Sehy have been running consistently six days a week all winter to prepare for their first meet, March 22.
“I’ve never done track,” the freshman said. “I know I can perform well. I know my times compared to other people.”
A sophomore this year, Alex Dumont had a 400-meter time that “came out of nowhere,” Dean said. “Toward the end of the season we recruited him to do the 4x8, so an 800-meter runner. That kid came through.
‘We actually took him to the state meet in the 4x8. He did the lead leg, and I clocked him at a 2:07. He was sprinting. It was an amazing leg in that relay.”
It was Germinder who converted Wheeler to the pole vault last year.
“Harrison’s a strong athlete, and just the way his mind works in that he asks questions and he wants to learn and he wants to improve,” she said.
“He wants to work hard, and he wants to put in the time. That’s something you need for that, along with the athletic component.”
Wheeler, who said he was shocked at being successful right away, competed for two weeks last season before a foot injury suffered on a vault sidelined him.
“It took her a whole season to finally convince me to do it,” he said. “I grabbed a pole one day and ended up being really good at it. Ever since, I’ve had a love of it.
“The feeling I have once I get in the air is almost like I’m just floating. When you get really good vaults and you get that nice height and good form, you get what we call a ‘stall.’ You just feel like you’re sitting up in the air for a second. It’s gotta be the coolest thing ever.”
Germinder has the background to help the Irish vaulters.
While at Hackett, she competed in the AAU National Championships and said she learned from the best, Oran Mitchell, a noted pole vaulting coach.
Her own coaching style revolves around the safety of the athletes.
“You can teach a lot of people to grab hold of a pole and pop yourself over,” she said. “But I want to make sure my athletes are safe. That’s really, really important to me, and that’s something that was instilled in me.
“When you’re jumping 6 to 16 feet, that’s a long way to fall. Safety is very important to me. If you’re not willing to put in the time, then I’m not the coach for you.”
Germinder said one of the foundations on which the team is built is leadership, which was instilled in the younger athletes by last year’s seniors.
“That’s one of the things our program is built on,” she said. “If you’re there because you want to get ready for the next sports season, we’ll coach you for that.
“If you want to be a state champion, we’ll coach you for that. That’s the really unique thing about track. There’s something for everyone, whatever that might be.”
As for the girls team, numbers are steadily climbing.
Five years ago, the team had just two girls. This year, 25 girls are on the team.
No matter girls or boys, track or field events, one thing is common for all the athletes.
“We pray before every meet, we put God first, and all those pieces have fallen into place for us.” Germinder said.
“I really believe that foundation is what is going to be our success this year. It’s there, it’s just a different team.”
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 email@example.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Hackett's Harrison Wheeler points to the pole vaulting record he hopes to break this season, while pole vaulting coach Shelly (Martin) Germinder points to the record she still holds at the school. (Middle) Clockwise from top left: Hackett head track & field coach Charissa Dean, Liam Mann, Germinder and Gavin Sehy. (Below) The Irish celebrate last season’s Finals championship, from left: Dean, Sehy, Logan St. Martin, Alex Dumont, Mitch Eastman, Nick Doerr and Germinder. (Top photo and head shots by Pam Shebest; team photo courtesy of Hackett track & field.)