Diaz, Jones Star Again, While Lansing Catholic Follows Standout Pair

By Scott DeCamp
Special for MHSAA.com

June 4, 2022

KENT CITY – Benny Diaz’ first three races of Saturday’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Track & Field Finals at Kent City High School said a lot about his considerable ability and sheer speed.

His fourth and final race said a lot about his character, even though he didn’t win that one.

The Saugatuck senior blazed to championships in the 110-meter hurdles (13.64 seconds), 100 dash (11.16) and 300 hurdles (39.43) before he pulled up with a hamstring injury near the midway point of the 200 dash.

Diaz, a University of Michigan signee, had a chance to become a four-event winner, but it was not in the cards. After he bent over at the waist and paused on the track, he finished the 200 in a slow trot as the packed stands cheered him to the finish line. He was “slightly upset,” but just wanted to finish the race.

“I’d say it’s better to finish it than to just stop,” Diaz said. “I guess it says a lot about your character. You’re willing to finish things, even if it’s not going so well.”

Diaz’ injury opened the door for Lansing Catholic to capture its second Division 3 team championship, and first since 2012. Lansing Catholic finished with 38 points to edge Saugatuck by a single point.

Led by junior Hunter Jones’ pair of individual titles, Benzie Central placed third with 32 points. Pewamo-Westphalia (30) and Hart (29) rounded out the top five.

Lansing Catholic took first in the final race of the day, the 1,600 relay (3:25.91), to push the Cougars over the top. Senior Josh Otten anchored that winning relay, placed runner-up in the 400 and third in the 1,600, and he anchored the second-place 3,200 relay. Senior Dave Pruder was third in the 800, and he joined Otten on the aforementioned relays that scored valuable points for the Cougars.

“Every one of them came through,” said Lansing Catholic coach Tim Simpson, who also guided the Cougars to the Division 3 title in 2012. “Otten came through with a huge day, Pruder came through with a huge day. Everybody else did their job.”

Jones captured championships in the 800 (personal record 1:52.68) and 1,600 (4:10.68), and he finished second in the 3,200 (9:25.87) to join Diaz as one of the top performers of the meet.

Benzie Central trackJones now has three MHSAA track state titles under his belt, as well as three Division 3 cross country championships. He won the 1,600 at last year’s Finals.

“I was comfortable for the mile and the 800 I was strong, but after the 800 I was at the trash can – I wasn’t feeling well,” said Jones, who is close to announcing his college commitment to a Division I school but is keeping that announcement close to the vest.

“My coaches, they helped me out. They helped me gain confidence and I threw myself on the track, got around eight laps and got runner-up (in the 3,200).”

Diaz finishes his storybook high school track career with five total Finals titles, going back-to-back in both hurdles events as a junior and senior.

Hurdles are the specialty for the slender Diaz, a 6-foot-1, 160-pounder, who glides along the track and makes it look effortless.

Seemingly stuck with the pack in the 100 on Saturday, Benny turned on his jets in the final 30 meters and burst to an impressive victory. He said that he tends to be a slower starter and strong finisher.

“Oh, no, it’s like that – it’s like that,” Diaz said with a grin. “I can just be lackadaisical before the start and just, it turns on. I mean, that’s just the type of kid I am, kind of low energy, just chill. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low.

“That’s just my race. I’m usually behind at the start and then I catch up with my top speed – speed and endurance.”

Diaz hobbled to the medal stand after the 200. He attributed the left hamstring injury to nerve problems, which flared up Friday.

He said he didn’t know how the nerve issues started and was hoping it wouldn’t be an issue Saturday.

“I’ve just been managing it. I was trying to keep it a secret, but now it’s kind of out the window,” a smiling Diaz said.

“But, I mean, I’m still happy with 30 points.”

Other individual champions included Sanford Meridian’s Dane Plichta in the 200 (22.82), Richmond’s Evan Green in the 400 (49.79 PR), Manton’s Noah Morrow in the 3,200 (9:17.84), Mason County Central’s Andrew Quinn in shot put (61-1.5 PR), Hart’s Kellen Kimes in discus (165-10 PR), Lake City’s Gavin Bisballe in high jump (6-5), Ovid-Elsie’s Tryce Tokar in pole vault (14-3 PR) and Warren Michigan Collegiate’s Trevon Redding in long jump (22-5).

Other first-place relay teams included Madison Heights Bishop Foley in the 400 (44.38), Sanford Meridian in the 800 (1:30.97), and Traverse City St. Francis in the 3,200 (8:10.56).

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett sophomore Jacob Juip competed in the first-time adaptive events in the 100 (57.63) and 200 (2:17.57). 

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Saugatuck's Benny Diaz, middle, builds his lead in the 110 hurdles Saturday at Kent City. (Middle) Benzie Central's Hunter Jones sets the pace on the way to one of his two race wins. (Click for more by Carter Sherline/Run Michigan.)

Performance of the Week: Pickford's David Kozisek

June 9, 2023

David KozisekDavid Kozisek ♦ Pickford
Senior ♦ Track & Field

Kozisek was an exchange student from Czech Republic this school year, and when he returns home this week he'll do so having accomplished a rare feat in MHSAA track & field history. On Saturday he became the ninth male athlete to win four individual events at a Finals, taking first in the 110 hurdles (15.40), 300 hurdles (41.39), high jump (6-3) and long jump (20-10) in helping Pickford to the Upper Peninsula Division 2 team championship. 

After also playing football and basketball for the Panthers, Kozisek joined the track & field team this spring with plenty of knowledge having competed in that sport over the last six years in his home country. He was incredibly close to leaving an even larger historical imprint last weekend; Kozisek's long jump and high jump both were just one inch off tying UPD2 Finals records, and his 110 time missed that meet record by only six hundredths of a second. He was the first to win four boys events with the combination of two hurdles races and two jumps, and the second four-time individual winner joining Joe Baker, who in 1974 became the first from any school to win four Finals events. 



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2022-23 Honorees

June 1: Helena McLellan, Northville soccer - Report
May 25:
Mitchel Luck, Linden lacrosse - Report
May 18:
Ahava Le Febre, Holland tennis - Report
May 11:
Gracie Maloney, Macomb Dakota softball - Report
May 4:
Braxton Brann, Ann Arbor Huron track & field - Report
April 27:
Owen Patton, Vestaburg track & field - Report
April 20:
Lilly Damm, Millington softball - Report
April 13:
Larissa Huffman, Mackinaw City track & field - Report
April 6:
Darius Acuff, Detroit Cass Tech basketball - Report
March 23:
Regan Finkbeiner, Hemlock basketball - Report
March 16:
Alaina Yaney, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Report
March 9:
Braeden Davis, Dundee wrestling - Report
March 2:
Gabriel Sanchez-Burks, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Feb. 23:
Grace Sobczak, Marquette swimming - Report
Feb. 16:
Kaitlynn Demers, Gibraltar Carlson competitive cheer - Report
Feb. 9:
Indya Davis, West Bloomfield basketball - Report
Feb. 2:
Braydon Sorenson, Onekama skiing - Report
Jan. 26:
Shayna Hruska, Iron Mountain wrestling - Report
Jan. 19:
Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

PHOTOS courtesy of 2BU Photography.