East Kentwood Follows Perfect Plan
June 1, 2013
By Tom Kendra
Special to Second Half
KENTWOOD – Devin McKinney and his East Kentwood teammates had a plan going into Saturday’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.
“We knew that if we won our two relays, that we would win the meet,” explained McKinney, a star junior sprinter and hurdler for East Kentwood.
The host Falcons executed that plan to perfection and won the MHSAA team championship for the fourth time in the past five years – previously winning in 2009, 2010 and 2011, before placing eighth last spring.
East Kentwood did not have any individual event champions, but coach Dave Emeott’s team did have place-winners all over the board and then dominated the sprint relays to take the title with 43 points.
Grand Blanc was second with 32 points. The Bobcats were led by sophomore Grant Fisher, who won the 3,200-meter run and took second in the 1,600 meters, missing out on a double win by six thousandths of a second.
Lake Orion, paced by senior 1,600-meter champion T.J. Carey, placed third with 29 points, followed by Walled Lake Central (27) and Davison (24).
McKinney ran the anchor leg of East Kentwood’s winning 400-meter relay team (42.41) and ran the second leg on the winning 800-meter relay team (1:27.72). He also was third in the 110-meter high hurdles.
“I just wanted to bring it for my team,” McKinney said. “We really wanted to get that state championship back.”
McKinney was joined by Justin Harris, Onrekus Carter and Kewon Getter on the winning 400-meter relay team and Getter, Houston Glass and Kevin Smith on the 800-meter relay team.
The threat of rain and possibly thunderstorms never materialized, but competitors had to deal with a steady wind throughout the day. The wind was blowing into the runners’ faces as they headed toward the finish line, resulting in higher-than-expected times in many events, particularly the sprints.
One athlete who said that going against the wind actually helped his performance was Walled Lake Central senior Cullen Prena.
Prena was the only boys athlete to win two individual events, even though he delivered an amazing end to his high school career away from the grandstands, in the throwing area.
Prena came in seeded second in the shot put, but overcame top-seeded Kevin Weiler of Swartz Creek with a winning throw of 60-11. But he was just getting warmed up. Prena hurled the discus more than 200 feet three times, including his final throw of 210 feet, 1 inch, which broke the old Division 1 Final record by more than 12 feet.
Afterward, Prena launched into an impromptu physics lesson to explain how throwing into the wind helped him.
“It was a perfect wind for the discus,” said Prena, who will compete in several major national events this summer, including the Chicago Throws Challenge and the New Balance Outdoor Nationals later this month before competing at the University of Oregon next year.
“A headwind is better because it gets under the disc and lifts it up. I felt great coming into today, and that wind just got me going even more.”
The discus win avenged his second-place finish in the event a year ago, when it was won by Matt Costello of Bay City Western, the Mr. Basketball winner who now plays for Tom Izzo at Michigan State.
While Prena was a shocking 34 feet further than the second-place thrower, most of the events were much closer.
Surprisingly, the closest race of the day was not in the 100-meter dash or a sprint relay. On a day when all eyes were on three of the top girls distance runners in the country in the 1,600-meter run, it was actually the boys’ 1,600-meter run which produced the day’s tightest finish.
Carey, a senior at Lake Orion, edged out Grand Blanc’s Fisher by the narrowest of margins, after the fans cheered both of them on as they ran neck-and-neck down the stretch. The final times showed Carey in first at 4:15.763 and Fisher second at 4:15.769 – a scant six thousandths of a second difference, which wasn’t official until a photo finish was used.
“I’m known for my kick and I needed every single bit of it today,” said Carey, a University of Missouri commit, with a grin. “It was the closest finish I’ve ever had, but I had a feeling that I got him right at the end.”
Fisher responded from that heartbreaking finish to capture the 3,200 meter title later in the meet.
Davison senior Gabe Hodge was a dual winner, capturing the 400-meter dash and then anchoring his team’s win in the meet’s final event, the 1,600-meter relay.
Saline captured the 3,200-meter relay title.
Other individual champions were Ato Condelee of Holland West Ottawa (long jump), Robert Atwater of Lincoln Park (high jump), Dylan Kole of Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills (pole vault), Freddie Crittenden of Utica (110-meter hurdles), Joshuwa Holloman of Auburn Hills Avondale (100 meters), Ross Williams of Birmingham Groves (300-meter hurdles), Andrew Middleton of Holt (800 meters) and Brandon Wilks of Southfield Lathrup (200 meters).
PHOTO: (Top) The East Kentwood boys track and field team poses on the medal stand after claiming the LP Division 1 championship. (Middle) Grant Fisher won the 3,200 in leading Grand Blanc to the team runner-up finish. (Photos by John Brabbs. Click to see more photo coverage from RunMichigan.com.)
Preview: Lower Peninsula Boys Finals Filled with Standout Seniors
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
June 1, 2023
Seniors competing at this weekend’s Lower Peninsula Boys Track & Field Finals have won a combined 20 individual championships over the last three seasons, a feat even more impressive considering their freshman season in 2020 was canceled due to COVID-19.
But as is often the case in this sport, picking out individual favorites is a simpler task than reasoning out possible team champions – and that’s certainly true in at least three divisions this weekend.
All four LP Finals will again be contested at Grand Rapids-area schools, with pole vault and long jump beginning at 9 a.m., race semifinals and the 3,200 relay at 10 a.m. and the rest of the running finals starting at noon. Tickets cost $11 and are available digitally only via GoFan.
MHSAA.tv will live-stream all four meets beginning at 10 a.m., viewable with subscription.
Below is a glance at team contenders and individuals to watch in all four divisions:
LP Division 1 at Rockford
Team forecast: This meet has been won with 34 and 41 points over the last two seasons, and a few standouts could be the difference-makers Saturday. Ann Arbor Huron, led by Braxton Brann, has enough with him to make a run at a first Finals championship. Rockford, a co-champion in 2021, had three top-five seeded relays and speed in the sprints to be in the mix. Reigning champion Detroit U-D Jesuit and sprinter Jaiden Reed could make a strong push again.
Benne Anderson, Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills senior: He’s been the next of a stellar group of distance runners to come through Michigan, winning the LPD1 cross country title in the fall after taking the 3,200 title last spring. His Regional times were first in LPD1 in the 800 (1:52.98) and 3,200 (9:10.53) and second-fastest in the 1,600 (4:14.23).
Andrew Berryhill, Battle Creek Lakeview senior: Last season’s shot put champion and 11th-place finisher in discus posted the top LPD1 Regional throws in both at 58-6½ and 166-0, respectively.
Braxton Brann, Ann Arbor Huron senior: After finishing fourth in the 100 and second in the 200 at last season’s Finals, Brann enters this one coming off the fastest LPD1 Regional times in the 200 (21.65) and 110 hurdles (13.92) and fifth-fastest in the 100 (10.7).
Shamar Heard, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley junior: The reigning champion in the 100 and 200 is switching gears for this weekend entering with the fastest LPD1 Regional time in the 400 (48.46) and as part of two relays.
Nathan Levine, Canton junior: The reigning high jump champion at 6-8 jumped a winning 6-6 at his Regional and likely will contend with Muskegon Reeths-Puffer’s Liam McHugh, who posted a 6-8½ to also win a Regional title.
Kayenn Mabin, Kalamazoo Central senior: He had the second-fastest LPD1 Regional time in both the 110 (14.33) and 300 hurdles (39.21) and also is expected to run on two contending relays. He won the 110 and was fourth in the 300 last season.
Trent McFarland, Utica senior: The reigning 800 champion won last week with the third-fastest LPD1 Regional time overall of 1:53.91, about two seconds off his winning Finals time from 2022.
LP Division 2 at Ada Forest Hills Eastern
Team forecast: The last six LPD2 Finals have seen six schools win championships and three more finish runners-up. Berrien Springs has a chance to break that trend after claiming last year’s title, entering this weekend with the fastest 400 and 800 relays in all Division 2 Regionals, plus contenders in at least three individual events. Whitehall, third last year, is seeking its first Finals title since 1996 and combines a significant group of scorers in races, relays and field events. Forest Hills Eastern was last year’s runner-up and has representatives in nearly every race including all four relays, plus two field events. Vicksburg, Freeland and Corunna also have opportunities.
Dalton DeBeau, Frankenmuth senior: Last season’s discus champion and shot put seventh-place finisher won both at his Regional with throws that were third for shot put (53-9½) and sixth for discus (156-9) among all LPD2 Regional performances.
Stuart Gould, Howard City Tri County senior: His lone event at the 2022 Finals was a win in the 400, and he’ll be a little busier this time also contending in the 200 and running a relay. He finished second in the 400 (49.15) at his Regional to Whitehall junior Trannon Aylor – who finished second to Gould at last year’s Final.
Carter McCalister, Monroe Jefferson senior: He just missed scoring in the 3,200 last season, finishing ninth, but he should put up some points this time entering off the fastest LPD2 Regional times in both the 3,200 (9:20.47) and the 1,600 (4:17.33).
Aiden Sullivan, Ada Forest Hills Eastern senior: The reigning champion in the 800 is coming off a Regional win in 1:58.40, exactly two seconds off his Finals time of a team ago. He’ll also run the 1,600 and on two relays.
Michael Wright, Vicksburg senior: Only a single relay contributor at last year’s Finals, he’s set to offer much more with the fastest LPD2 Regional times in the 100 (10.82) and 200 (22.0) while running on two relays including a contender in the 800.
Division 3 at Kent City
Team forecast: The top seven teams last season finished within 10 points of each other, and a strong group of favorites could make this close at the top again. Sanford Meridian tied for sixth last season and enters with tons of scoring potential in sprints and jumps, including with the fastest 400 and 800 relays from all LPD3 Regionals. Benzie Central, third last spring, could be carried by distance stars Hunter Jones and Pol Molins. Last year’s ninth-place Chesaning has qualifiers all over the meet and contenders in hurdles and relays, and Hart – fifth last season – also is strong in distance, and throws.
Hunter Jones, Benzie Central senior: The graduating Benzie star and four-time cross country champion has won the 1,600 the last two seasons and the 800 last spring as well, and he ran the top LPD3 Regional times in the 800 (1:57.76), 1,600 (4:19.78) and 3,200 (9:24.89) – the latter two by notable margins – and was part of the fifth-fastest 3,200 relay.
Torren Mapes, Delton Kellogg junior: He competed in the 110 hurdles last season but didn’t make the final – but he’ll be in the hunt for multiple championships after running the second-fastest LPD3 Regional time in the 110 (15.34) and third-fastest in the 300 hurdles (41.13).
Kellen Kimes, Hart senior: Last season’s discus champ and shot put runner-up topped the LPD3 Regional performances in both with tosses of 181-9 and 57-11, respectively.
Brayden Riley, Sanford Meridian senior: He qualified in the 200 last season and didn’t make the final but was part of the winning 800 relay. He could pace a team title run entering with the fastest LPD3 Regional time in the 200 (22.25), fourth-fastest in the 100 (11.20) and as part of the two top sprint relays mentioned above.
Tryce Tokar, Ovid-Elsie sophomore: Last season’s pole vault champion as only a freshman posted the top LPD3 Regional vault (14-8¼) by more than eight inches.
Jerry Wiegers, North Muskegon junior: After finishing ninth in the 400 last season, Wiegers is lined up to score with the top 400 LPD3 Regional time (50.58) and second-fastest in the 200 (22.52).
Division 4 at Hudsonville
Team forecast: Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep is the reigning champion and has won three of the last four championships (not counting 2020, where the season was canceled due to COVID-19). The Irish have qualifiers in good position to score in five individual races, three relays and at least three field events. Flint Beecher has coverage in fewer events but big points potential in sprints, hurdles and relays led by speedy Jaylin Townsend. Reading has qualifiers in all but three events and a pair of relays that could lead a team title run.
Alex Affer, Peck senior: Last season’s long jump champ by more than three inches had the second-farthest LPD4 Regional jump this time (21-7¼), just a half-inch shorter than that of Detroit Frederick Douglass’s Anthany Buford, who finished second to Affer at last year’s Finals.
Tyler Bays, Reading senior: He’s back after winning the 800 and finishing third in the 1,600 last spring and returns with the third-best 800 (1:57.86), sixth-best 1,600 (4:32.95) and fourth-best 3,200 (10:00.98) times from all LPD4 Regionals.
Isiah Biers, Coleman senior: He won the pole vault last season by seven inches and enters with the fifth-best vault (12-9) from LPD4 Regionals.
Brady Feldpausch, Fowler sophomore: After running on a relay at last year’s Finals, Feldpausch will be busier entering with the top LPD4 Regional times in both the 110 (15.33) and 300 hurdles (40.84) and as part of two relays.
Liam Mann, Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep senior: The reigning champion in the 200 and runner-up in the 100 also was part of a winning relay last season, and he enters with the second-fastest LPD4 Regional times in both the 100 (11.13) and 200 (22.76) and slated to run on both sprint relays.
Lezawe Osterink, Wyoming Potter’s House Christian senior: He’ll look to add to his 1,600, 3,200 and 3,200 relay championships from a season ago, plus two cross country titles, entering this weekend with the top LPD4 Regional time in the 1,600 (4:22.73) and also running the 3,200 and on two relays.
Braden Prielipp, Marion junior: He won the high jump by seven inches last season, and his 6-3 at his Regional was the third-highest in all of LPD4 two weeks ago. He’ll also long jump and run the 400 and on a relay.
Jaylin Townsend, Flint Beecher senior: He’ll look to add to his two sprint and one relay championship from 2021 and third individual title won last season in the 100. He had the fastest LPD4 Regional times in the 100 (10.99) and 200 (22.23) and will run on two relays expected to contend as well.
PHOTO Potter’s House Christian’s Lezawe Osterink takes the baton during a relay at last season’s LPD4 Finals. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)