McBain Twins Geared Up for Last Finals

May 24, 2019

By Chris Dobrowolski
Special for Second Half

MCBAIN — It’s been said that records are made to be broken.

McBain twins Keegan and Klaudia O’Malley seem to have taken that notion to heart.

The seniors’ names are all over the school record books for track & field as they wind down their standout careers. Klaudia holds the all-time marks for the 800 meters (2 minutes, 17 seconds), 1,600 (5:04), 3,200 (11:06) and as an integral part of the Ramblers’ 3,200 relay team (9:57), while Keegan broke a 42-year-old school record in the 3,200 earlier this season in a time of 9:33, shaving five seconds off what had been the longest-standing boys track & field record on the school’s board.

“They hold all those distance records,” said McBain boys track & field head coach Pat Maloney. “Going down in history, they’re going to be talked about. People will be compared to them for years to come.

“It’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes. People don’t see how many miles they put in year after year after year.”

The O’Malleys certainly come by their running prowess honestly. Their father, Tim, has been the cross country coach at Cadillac for the past 18 years and has spent the last seven years as an assistant track coach at McBain. Their mother, Tasha, coaches cross country at McBain. Both parents have been active in competitive running as well, with Tasha having competed in multiple Boston Marathons among myriad other races.

“Our life pretty much revolves around running — in a fun way, not in a bad way,” said Tim O’Malley. “My wife raced a lot. I would just take the kids and pace them in the 5Ks that they wanted to run. They seemed to like it.”

The O’Malley children – including Maggie, the twins’ younger sister by two years – didn’t know any differently than being immersed in a running lifestyle.

“I’ve grown up with running,” said Klaudia.

Tim O’Malley jokingly says Keegan and Klaudia’s running careers actually began with running as a form of babysitting. Even when they were as young as 7 years old, the O’Malley twins would tag along with their father to practice. They attended cross country camps with the team, would run right along with the group, and even get to compete in open races following meets.

“I loved it and his team was so supportive, so I just got into it,” said Keegan.

Not only did the twins enjoy running, but it became quickly apparent that they were good at it too. Really good, in fact. Keegan and Klaudia started establishing school records in elementary school, and that continued as they moved into middle school and then high school. No one was surprised to see them become dominant runners at the high school level, to say the least.

“They hold all those distance records,” said Maloney. “People have been waiting for them to shine, and they haven’t disappointed by any means.”

Klaudia is the four-time Highland Conference champion in the 800 and 1,600, and a three-time winner of the 3,200 — she didn’t run that event this year. She has qualified for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals four times in the 1,600, three times with the 3,200 relay team, and twice each in the 800, 3,200 and with the 1,600 relay, earning all-state honors a total of six times across four events. She is qualified for the Finals in the 800, 1,600, 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay this season. Three of the four school records she holds came as a result of breaking her own record-setting times.

“Last year I didn’t feel as confident, but this year I feel a lot stronger and a lot more confident with my running,” said Klaudia. “It’s sweet to show, just because I’m from a small school, you can still have a lot of talent.”

Keegan is a three-time league champion in the 3,200 and twice has won the 1,600 and ran with the winning 3,200 relay. He also has four Regional crowns to his credit — twice winning the 3,200. He is qualified for the Finals in the 1,600, 3,200 and with the 3,200 relay. He battled an injury a year ago but has seemed to make up for any lost time with a dynamic senior season. That includes shattering Ron Eising’s school record in the 3,200 that had been around since 1977 with a stunning performance at the Shepherd Invitational that eclipsed Keegan’s personal best by 16 seconds.

“It was kind of like a dream come true because the guy who had the record (Eising) is very supportive of me,” said Keegan. “He came to the track and mentored me. Told me he wanted me to beat it. He wanted me to take after him. I put in a lot of training in the offseason, and I was really surprised when I got it, but I knew I could do it. I wasn’t terribly close. It was kind of a big PR (personal record).”

The twins will complete their high school careers at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Jenison High School, then are taking their talents to Grand Valley State University in the fall. They say they are close and relish the idea of heading in the same direction for the next chapter of their careers.

“At first I didn’t really want to (go to the same school),” said Klaudia. “But senior year got going, and we got running together again. Now I’m glad I chose the same college as him. I’ll have a buddy there right away and I can still watch him and cheer him on at meets.”

Maloney has seen the work Keegan and Klaudia put into running, and he’s witnessed the records fall. He will be watching keenly to see how the O’Malleys perform at the collegiate level.

“They’re going to do a great job representing McBain, their family and northern Michigan runners,” he said. “I think they’ll be right in the heat of things for the next four years.”

Chris Dobrowolski has covered northern Lower Peninsula sports since 1999 at the Ogemaw County Herald, Alpena News, Traverse City Record-Eagle and currently as sports editor at the Antrim Kalkaska Review since 2016. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) The O’Malley twins, Klaudia and Keegan, run their respective events during last season’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. (Middle) Klaudia O’Malley, second from right, gets ready to start the 800. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)

Not Even Sky Seems Limit as Richards Keeps Calvary Sports Soaring

By Tom Kendra
Special for MHSAA.com

January 4, 2024

Bradley Richards believes that life is all about trying new things, setting bigger goals and pushing yourself to new heights – in his case, literally.

West MichiganRichards, now a 6-foot-5, 190-pound junior basketball standout at tiny Fruitport Calvary Christian, played on the school’s fifth-grade team when he was in second grade.

He remembers staring longingly at the rim in those days and dreaming about dunking, before making that dream a reality by throwing one down in February of his seventh-grade year.

While his three older sisters - Taylor, Allyson and Kelsey - were leading the Calvary girls basketball program to new heights, he vowed he would do the same with the boys program someday.

Bradley and his teammates accomplished that goal last spring, winning the school’s first boys District basketball title despite a roster with no seniors.

This season, Calvary came flying out of the gate with a 5-0 start and is now 5-2 heading into Friday’s home game against Saugatuck.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Bradley, who averages 29 points and 14 rebounds per game. “Our school is so small that we’re more like a family. It’s not about me. I’m just so happy for our school and all of the guys on the team.”

The next goal is to repeat as District champions and try to win a Regional title, before setting his sights at clearing 7 feet in the high jump this spring.

“I’m going to try to get past that this year,” said Bradley in his typical humble, matter-of-fact fashion.

One thing his father and fourth-year Fruitport Calvary Christian boys basketball coach Brad Richards has learned is to not put anything past his only son, the youngest of his four children.

Bradley displayed an interest in music as a young boy and now sings in the school’s worship group and plays the saxophone, piano and guitar. Last fall, he played high school football for the first time as part of a cooperative agreement with Muskegon Catholic Central and wound up starting at wide receiver and defensive back for the state powerhouse program.

“He’s blessed and he’s gifted – yes,” said his father, who also coached all three of his girls during their Calvary Christian basketball careers. “But he works so hard.

“Bradley sets goals and works toward them. He’s always looking for the next thing to do.”

True to his school

One thing he doesn’t like to do is media interviews. Specifically, he doesn’t like calling attention to himself.

“He is pretty quiet and would rather have his teammates get the attention,” said his mother, Joy.

Fruitport Calvary Christian is one of the smallest schools on the entire Lakeshore with 51 students in grades 9-12, and just 17 boys in the high school.

Richards lines up to shoot a free throw. The Eagles take great pride in their ability to compete against much larger schools. They made a huge statement during the first full week of December with three convincing victories over bigger schools.

That week started on Tuesday, Dec. 5, with Calvary’s first-ever boys basketball win over neighbor Fruitport, a Division 2 school that competes in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue. Bradley scored 35 points with 14 rebounds in that game, with clutch free throws by role player Eric Dubois Quayle sealing the win.

Two days later, Richards scored 36 points with 17 rebounds in a win over Grand Rapids Sacred Heart.

Calvary then capped the 3-0 week Friday with a victory over Kent City, another Division 2 school, as Bradley scored 36 points with 18 rebounds.

Calvary is led by the “big three” of juniors Richards and Quinn Swanson and senior Sam Zelenka. Swanson, the team’s second-leading scorer with 17 points plus six rebounds and three assists per game, injured his knee last week against Schoolcraft and his health will have a huge bearing on the team’s success going forward. Zelenka is the top defender and averages 11 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

The other starters are junior workhorse Zach McFarren, who owns the school’s shot put and discus records and has played all but six minutes over the team’s seven games, and senior Nolan Ghezzi.

Richards, already a two-time Associated Press all-state selection who even made the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan all-state team as an eighth grader, has seen every gimmick defense to try and shut him down, including box-and-twos and triple teams. He credits his experience in football and track with helping him deal with it.

“There is usually a quick guy in front of me and a big guy behind me,” said Bradley, who scored a career-high 47 points in a game last season. “Football has really helped me, because I’m not as scared of the contact. The high jumping has helped me to elevate and get my shot off.”

Great heights

Jim McHugh is a high jump legend from Pentwater who went on to become a two-time national champion in the event at Hillsdale College, and he now coaches West Michigan athletes in the event.

The first time he worked with Bradley Richards, in April of last year, he knew he had something special on his hands.

“Bradley went up and literally hurdled the bar at 5-11,” said McHugh. “I was in shock. I said to myself: ‘This is gonna be a heck of a ride.’ The kid is a generational talent.”

The coaching of McHugh paid immediate dividends, as Bradley improved from a top jump of 6-1½ as a freshman to 6-6½ in last year’s Regional meet. Then came the Division 4 Finals at Hudsonville a few weeks later.

Bradley won the first track Finals championship for Fruitport Calvary with a leap of 6-10 – which was 3 inches higher than anyone else in any of the four Lower Peninsula divisions and entire Upper Peninsula that day – and caught the attention of college scouts from across the country.

Playing as part of a cooperative with Muskegon Catholic Central, Richards works to get away from a Traverse City St. Francis tackler. The following week, he competed at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Philadelphia and placed second with a jump of 6-8.24.

McHugh shudders to think of how high his prodigy can soar. He has his sights set on the Division 4 Finals record of 6-10½ (Kurt Schneider, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, 2009), the Muskegon-area record of 7-0 (Steve Paulsen, Fremont, 1998) and the all-division/class Finals record of 7-1 (John Payment, Brimley, 1989).

“God has given him incredible talent, but he also has the desire it takes,” said McHugh, who is also working with another Division I college high jump prospect in Hart junior Addison Hovey. “I gave him a workout plan, and he has done every bit of it. He has cleaned up his diet, done the cold showers and the cold bathtubs, everything. I’m excited to see the results.”

Richards, whose first love was basketball, admits he is smitten with the high jump and seeing how high he can soar.

Now, when asked about his favorite athletes, he still mentions Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant, but he also includes Olympic gold medalist high jumper Mutaz Barshim of Qatar – who made news by not taking additional jumps at the 2020 Olympics in Japan, thereby sharing the gold medal with Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy.

“I just respect that so much, sharing the gold medal,” Bradley said.

Decision time

Now the Bradley Richards recruiting saga has begun and, for him, it’s not just about choosing what school – it’s also about choosing what sport.

“I would like to do both, play basketball and high jump in college, if possible,” Bradley said.

That would certainly be a possibility if Bradley follows in his family’s footsteps at Cornerstone University. His father was a basketball standout at Cornerstone, which is where he met Joy, and all three of his sisters played for the Golden Eagles. (Kelsey is currently a student assistant for this year’s team.)

Playing both may not be possible if he pursues high jump at the Division I level, where Michigan and Illinois are among schools actively recruiting him.

“I know at some point I’m going to have to make a decision, but I don’t have to right now,” said the 17-year-old Bradley. “So it doesn’t do me any good to sit and stress about it all the time.”

Instead, he is focused on more immediate goals.

The first is figuring out a way for his basketball team to snap a two-game losing skid and get positioned for another postseason run.

Then it will be trying to clear the magical high jump number of 7-0, and beyond. And don’t forget football, where he would love to start off his senior year by helping Muskegon Catholic improve on its 6-5 record from a year ago and make a run at the school’s 13th state football championship.

Only after all of that will it be college decision time.

“It’s not an easy choice, and it will take a lot of prayer and discernment,” admitted Richards, who will look for help from his immediate family and his school family in making his choice. “I’ll figure it out. I usually do.”

Tom KendraTom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Fruitport Calvary Christian’s Bradley Richards stands atop the podium after winning the high jump last spring at the Lower Peninsula Division 4 Finals. (Middle) Richards lines up to shoot a free throw. (Below) Playing as part of a cooperative with Muskegon Catholic Central, Richards works to get away from a Traverse City St. Francis tackler. (Track photo courtesy of Joy Richards; basketball and football photos courtesy of Local Sports Journal.)