Hailey Helps Carry Berrien Springs Once More, This Time to 1st Track Title
By Steve Vedder
Special for MHSAA.com
June 4, 2022
ADA – Don't ask Jamal Hailey to explain winning two MHSAA Finals titles without relying on his best effort.
Don't get Hailey wrong. The Berrien Springs senior is thrilled with not only winning Saturday's 100 and 200-meter dashes, but also helping his somewhat undermanned team to the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals championship at Forest Hills Eastern.
Hailey won the 100 with a time of 10.77, a fraction better than runner-up Ian Thompson (10.78) of Wayland. Hailey also took the 200 (22.11) over second-place Julian Bailey of Dearborn (22.25). Neither winning time was a personal best for Hailey, but he'll gladly take both his individual efforts, which resulted in 20 points. And with his inclusion on the winning 400 relay, the Western Michigan-bound Hailey was part of 30 of the team's 41 points – and nearly equaled the 33 points totaled by runner-up Forest Hills Eastern.
"I can't explain it," Hailey said. "It's preparation, being fortunate and knowing what I came here to do. I came here to win."
What is explainable is Hailey's value to a team which brought just 10 participants to the meet. Most track coaches are more comfortable with 15-20 potential point scorers, Berrien Springs coach Jon Rodriguez said. Hailey is also a standout football player who rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 33 touchdowns last fall.
The team championship was Berrien Springs' first in the sport, to go with runner-up finishes in 1953 and 2018.
"We had an idea we could win because Jamal is so special. He scores a lot of points for us," said Rodriguez, who finished up his 10th year as coach. "If we were healthy, we thought we had a chance to win. It all comes down to who can be best on that day. We were the best today."
Berrien Springs senior James York contributed a key first place in the long jump (22-10).
Three other Finals titles were grabbed by longtime friends Patrick Adams of Allendale and Sparta's Lance Riddle. The two seniors have competed back and forth against each other for at least the last six years and culminated in Riddle winning the 300 hurdles (39.28) and Adams capturing the 110 hurdles (14.73). Riddle was third to Adams in the 110 and Adams was only three tenths of a second behind in finishing second to Riddle in the 300.
Adams was the 2021 champ in the 110.
"I ran faster this year," said Adams, who will attend Cornerstone University next season. "But it was definitely more competitive. It's definitely tougher trying to win back-to-back. Me and Lance have been going at it since middle school, so I know him.
"I started kinda slow, but I just trusted my training and ran. The pressure got to me a little, so I just tried harder. Honestly, you just want to get to the finals; nothing is guaranteed in the hurdles. Getting to the final is what counts."
Spring Lake's Ian Hill won the 1,600 (4:16.99) after finishing third a year ago as a junior. Hill said there was one simple explanation for jumping two spots.
"Confidence," he said. "Last year I didn't really give myself a chance. I had a lot of confidence this year even though there are a lot of good runners here. But I was confident in my ability. I have all the respect for the other runners, but I have confidence.”
Even having to bounce back from the flu bug at midseason failed to dent Hill's' confidence. He also helped the 1,600 relay to a first place (3:23.78).
"I knew this would be close, but I thought I had as much a shot as anyone else," said Hill, who will attend Michigan next season. "I'm really happy to win this."
Other champs in the running events were senior Caleb Jarema of Pinckney, who won the 3,200 (9:17.36), and Stuart Gould of Howard City Tri County in the 400 (49.18). Aiden Sullivan of Forest Hills Eastern won the 800 (1:56.40). Whitehall won the 800 relay (1:29.73), while Holland Christian took first in the 3,200 (7:54.35)
Heading the field event winners was Alex Mansfield of Monroe Jefferson, who won the shot put (57-6). The Oakland University-bound Mansfield, who was also runner-up in the discus, said the title came despite some technique difficulties.
"I couldn't get the ball to throw; it kept slipping out of my fingers," he said. "But I got the job done; you still have to perform."
Edwardsburg senior Luke Stowasser successfully repeated in the high jump (6-8). He also won the long jump a year ago, but finished runner-up this time to Berrien Springs’ York.
"It was definitely a lot tougher, but I was more confident this year, which only pushed me to be better," Stowasser said.
Landon Cosby of Charlotte won the pole vault (15-9), while Dalton DeBeau of Frankenmuth took first in the discus (175-7).
Chelsea junior Jacob Nelson competed in one of the first-time adaptive events, in the 100 (33.19).
PHOTOS (Top) Berrien Springs’ Jamal Hailey (in green) crosses the finish first in the 400 relay Saturday, just ahead of Detroit Martin Luther King’s Terrence Brown to his right. (Middle) From left, Sparta’s Lance Riddle, Allendale’s Patrick Adams and King’s Teon Parks stride toward the finish of the 110 hurdles. (Click for more from Dave McCauley/Run Michigan.)
Ruddy Brothers Return to Track, Help Lift Whiteford to Regional Title
By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com
May 23, 2023
OTTAWA LAKE – Shea and Ryin Ruddy are the answer to everyone who ever wondered if being fast in one or two other sports translates to being fast on the track.
It does, and what they've accomplished this spring is more than enough proof.
In March, the Ruddy brothers came out for track for the first time since middle school for Ottawa Lake Whiteford after the district loosened the rules on athletes wanting to participate in multiple sports during the same season. About seven weeks later, the duo has qualified for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals in four events each and will lead a contingent of 10 Bobcats to Kent City next week.
“What they are doing on the track is amazing,” said Whiteford track & field coach Jay Yockey. “Really, when you look at it, they’ve only lost a couple of races here and there. They aren’t finishing second. They are going out and winning races, winning meets. It is not a small feat at all.”
Shea, a senior, was a four-year starting quarterback for Whiteford who led the Bobcats to the Division 8 championship last fall, scoring the game-winning touchdown on an unforgettable, 17-play fourth-quarter drive. Since his freshman season, he’s also played basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring.
Ryin, a junior, was also a starter on the Bobcats football team and followed in his older brother’s footsteps with basketball and baseball.
This year, however, they went to Whiteford athletic director Jeremy Simmons to inquire about also running track.
“I had each athlete attend a meeting with both coaches and their parents where we went over the rules,” Simmons said. “We made sure everyone was on the same page and answered questions that they had. Everything is outlined.”
Yockey found out early on what kind of athletes both were.
“They are confident in their abilities but aren’t arrogant and boastful,” Yockey said. “For what they have accomplished this year is truly outstanding – and I understand they are doing pretty well in baseball, too.”
Saturday’s Division 3 Regional at Adrian Madison was a milestone day for both.
Shea won the 400 and was on the 1,600 relay unit that finished first. He also was second in the 100 and part of the 400 relay that came in second.
Ryin was part of both of those relays, plus the 800 relay that placed second – and was Regional champion in the 300 hurdles.
Together, they helped the Bobcats to the team title.
“Ryin’s 300 race really sticks out to me as he is such a competitor and driven to win,” Yockey said.
Ryin took to the hurdles quickly.
“He’s really done quite well with working his hurdle form, attacking each race and winning,” Yockey said. “He currently is seeded seventh in the state in an event that usually takes a season or two to perfect.”
Ryin last ran track in the seventh grade. Shea ran that season as well, which was his eighth-grade year.
“We had high expectations, but I think we exceeded what we thought we would do,” Shea said of this spring. “It was really tough to start, but it’s gotten a lot easier as I’ve gotten into the routine. I think it’s benefited me for both sports.”
Shea started out the season competing in the high jump. About two weeks ago he gave the 400 a shot. He ended up winning the Regional in the event and is seeded second going into the Finals.
The Hillsdale College football signee credits Coach Yockey with helping him get up to speed on what to do and not do on the track.
“Coach Yockey helped me a lot. He got me into shape and told me where I needed to be with my times,” Ruddy said. “I kind of wish I would have done it in the past, but it’s all right. I think the years of experience would have paid off.”
Shea is the anchor on the 400 relay and leads off the 1,600 relay. The 1,600 unit holds the school record and had the fastest time of any 1,600 relay in Division 3 earlier this season.
“I knew adding Shea and Ryin would be a benefit for us,” said Yockey. “But, to go in and win a Regional title … that’s always the dream. The fact that we won a Regional title and will go to states with 12 scoring opportunities is definitely exciting. It exceeds my expectations from the start of the season.”
Whiteford had two other Regional champions Saturday – Keegan Masters won both the 1,600 and 3,200 and Stepan Masserant won the Pole Vault. The Regional title was Whiteford’s first since 2007, the same year the Bobcats won the school’s only track & field state championship.
It also comes just a year after Whiteford christened its new track and hosted its first home meet in more than a decade. Yockey said the new track helped ignite interest in the sport.
“Having a new track is huge,” he said. “Kids want to be a part of something they can be proud of, and kids weren’t proud of our track facility. I still hear upperclassmen joke about the gravel lane they had before I got here.
“I think being able to host home meets, and a beautiful facility definitely helps in having kids come out and participate in track & field.”
Shea said he’s not surprised about the rapid rise of the Whiteford boys track & field team this season.
“I’m not shocked,” he said. “I knew we had the talent. We had to put it together, of course, and we’ve done that. I’m satisfied. I’m going to the states in four events. I can’t be disappointed with that.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Shea Ruddy (far left) takes the baton from brother Ryin during a relay this season. (Middle) The 1,600 relay of Shea Ruddy, Dylan Anderson, Ryin Ruddy and Jake Iott show off their latest trophy with Whiteford coach Jay Yockey after the Bobcats claimed their first Regional track & field team title since 2007. (Top photo by Deloris Clark-Osborne; middle photo courtesy of the Whiteford boys track & field program.)