Hillsdale Begins March Toward Big June

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

April 3, 2018

HILLSDALE – The MHSAA Track & Field Finals are still a couple months, a few thunderstorms and maybe even some snow showers away.

But, there’s once again one thing you can most likely count on – the Hillsdale Hornets boys track & field team will be well represented June 2 at Comstock Park High School.

In Clay Schiman’s first season coaching the Hornets track team in 2013, Hillsdale scored three points at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals meet. In 2014, Hillsdale made the big jump to a fourth-place finish. In each of the three seasons since, Hillsdale has finished second. In each of the past two seasons, they finished five points out of first place; Chesaning won the championship in 2017 and Sanford Meridian in 2016.

Schiman says it’s much too early to tell if the Hornets will have the depth and points to finish that high again. But, no one is counting Hillsdale out.

“It takes so many points in so many different areas to win that state meet,” Schiman said. “We haven’t set our team goals yet. We try and get a few meets under our belt first, then take a realistic look. I’d say we have a chance to score some points and have a few all-state athletes.”

That translates into a team to watch come June.

“Our kids value hard work, whether that is in the weight room or the classroom or learning technique,” Schiman said. “The kids know if they are going to be an athlete here, they are going to work.”

Hillsdale had eight seniors qualify for the boys meet last year, either in an individual event or relay. They have 33 out for track this season, which is slightly down from the last couple of seasons but enough to give the Hornets some depth and options when it comes to dual meets, Lenawee County Athletic Association events and invitationals.

“For a Division 3 school, we have a lot of options for kids,” he said. “It’s just about getting them out and motivating them. We don’t focus on winning every meet or invitational. It’s all about progressions and improving from one meet to the next or one year to the next.”

A good example of how an athlete can improve from one year to the next is what Rees Nemeth did last year for the Hornets. The pole vaulter went from 11-foot-6 as a junior to winning the LPD3 championship last year.

“Track is unique in that way,” Schiman said. “You never know who else is out there or who is going to take that leap from one year to the next.”

At the top of this year’s list of Hornets is junior Spencer Eves, the Division 3 high jump champion last year. He has a good track pedigree. His older brother was an all-state distance runner who now races in college. Spencer went 6-7 last year at the Finals.

“He was on the MITCA team, representing Michigan in the high jump,” Schiman said. “For a Division 3 athlete, that is really impressive. We are excited about his prospects and potential this year.”

Sam Nash was on the Division 3 championship 1,600 relay team in 2016 and will be in multiple events this year, including the 400.

“In his first event of this season he was right where he left off in June,” Schiman said. “That doesn’t happen very often. It was a great start to the season.”

Hurdlers Noah LoPresto and Colby Nash have a ton of potential and Ryan Reiniche is one of those athletes that Schiman expects to make great strides. Reiniche is a discus thrower.

“He finished (last) season really strong,” the Hillsdale coach said.

Hillsdale began this spring like it has for the last several years – at the Charger Preview, hosted annually by Hillsdale College. Hillsdale High uses that meet as a barometer for the season. The school is on spring break next week, meaning the athletes will have a week of working out on their own before returning to action the first full week in April.

“It’s great for us,” he said. “It sets the tone for the whole year. Twenty teams were there competing, so you know, in every event, you are going to get some good competition. It’s good for all of the kids who go to that meet.”

Hillsdale made some strides, Schiman said. Now, its up to the athletes to keep working, improve each week and be prepared for the big stage come June, whether it’s raining, windy or 85 degrees and sunshine.

 “We believe in our program and what we are doing,” Schiman said.

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.

PHOTO: Hillsdale's Spencer Eves competes in the high jump last season. 

Chippewa Valley's Heard Has Big Plans to Add to All-Time Sprint Legacy

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

May 10, 2024

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Shamar Heard admits he’s thought about it, and for good reason.

Greater DetroitAfter all, why not at least entertain the thought of doing something unprecedented in state history when it comes to track & field?

Two years ago as a sophomore, Heard achieved the double in the fastest races, winning both the 100 and 200-meter dashes at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals. 

Last year, Heard completed the trifecta when it came to sprint state titles, focusing solely on the 400 dash and winning that event in 47.78 seconds while also running on first and third-place relays.

So, how about trying to train for and win all three events this year as a senior? Who in the state would be able to stop him? 

“I definitely have been thinking about it,” Heard said. “Because why not? It probably hasn’t been done in a long time, if ever.”

But while the thought has crossed his mind, it won’t happen. It’s a little much on the body — in particular running the 100-meter dash — to try and do all three at once. 

However, Heard in the coming weeks is still in a good position to cement what already is a place among the greatest sprinters to come through the state of Michigan. 

First, he has big things in mind for his specialty race, the 400 meters. He has won two consecutive AAU national titles in that event in addition to the Finals title he won last year, but is craving more.

“I want to be at 45 seconds for the state meet,” Heard said noting the June 1 Finals at East Kentwood. 

In addition, Heard plans on competing in the 200 meters at East Kentwood. He also is a part of Chippewa Valley’s 800 relay team that won last year in 1:26.41. He’s expected to qualify for all three at the Regional on May 17 at Romeo.

Heard prepares to run the winning 400 at last season’s championship meet.When Heard is done with high school, he will continue running track at Tennessee. 

It’s all mighty impressive for a speedster that Chippewa Valley head coach Terry Wilson said hates lifting weights and is “barely above 150 pounds.”

“He doesn’t weigh a whole lot, but he generates a lot of power,” Wilson said. “His strength-to-weight ratio has to be astronomical. He’s just gotten better with his form.”

Throughout his entire life, Heard said he’s simply loved racing. When he was a kid, he would constantly pick out a stop sign on a street or another spot in a yard and race others to the finish, often beating them with ease. 

When he was 10 years old, he was invited by a friend to come out for a track team, and he proceeded to beat others in races continuously. 

As he got a little older, Heard discovered how gifted he was running the 400 meters and started to focus more on that event. 

Heard said he loves the 400 meters so much mostly because he loves embracing a challenge many sprinters don’t want to face. 

“I like that not many people want to go through that pain,” he said. “I take it as a compliment when people look at (the 400) and they say, ‘Hey, people are crazy for doing that.’ That makes me motivated to do it.”

Wilson admits there doesn’t have to be much coaching done with Heard. It’s just simply a matter of getting together before races to discuss how he feels and what his body can do that day. 

“He understands his body a little bit better every year,” Wilson said. “He understands what he needs to get done in races. He’ll run the 200 in practice and I’ll have a stopwatch on him, and he’ll say, ‘That felt like a 24 (seconds). I look at my stopwatch and it’s a 24.2. He has that ability to gauge how fast he’s going. It’s just different with him.” 

Heard also was a football player at Chippewa Valley, but gave the sport up before last fall to focus solely on his track career. 

“I was just looking at the bigger picture,” Heard said. “I was more consistent in one sport than I was the other.”

He will run the 400 meters at Tennessee, and then the sky could be the limit given what he’s accomplished already on a national level.

Until then though, Heard will spend the rest of his high school career trying to win more hardware and leave a mark that might be impossible for future sprinters in Michigan to surpass. 

“I want to give everyone a senior year that they will remember,” Heard said. “I want to go out with one of the most memorable years of a high school athlete.” 

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Chippewa Valley’s Shamar Heard crosses the finish line while anchoring the winning 800 relay at last year’s LPD1 Finals. (Middle) Heard prepares to run the winning 400 at last season’s championship meet. (Click for more from Jamie McNinch/RunMichigan.com.)