Performance: Algonac's Morgan Beadlescomb
May 17, 2016
Algonac senior – Track & Field
Beadlescomb will finish his high school career next month all over the Algonac record books and MHSAA champions lists as well. He won the Lower Peninsula Division 2 cross country championship each of the last two seasons and also won the LP Division 2 track title in the 1,600 last spring. His time in the 1,600 that day set a school record of 4:13.58, and he added his school’s 3,200 record of 9:03.68 in finishing first at the prestigious Saline Golden Triangle Invitational on May 6, earning him the Michigan National Guard Performance of the Week for May 2-8.
The 9:03 was thought to be the fastest time in the state in the 3,200 this season – but was matched by a 9:03 the same night by Corunna’s Noah Jacobs at the Cavalier Classic True Team Invitational. Beadlescomb finished fifth in the 3,200 at last year’s MHSAA LP Division 2 Final, as Jacobs won the race, and he intends to run against Jacobs in both the 1,600 and 3,200 at this season’s Final, June 4 at Zeeland.
Beadlescomb also has run the 400 in 51.8 seconds this season and the 800 in 157.7; that 800 time would’ve finished seventh in LP Division 2 in 2015. His improvement during high school was impressive, especially in cross country; Beadlescomb finished 138th in LP Division 2 as a freshman before jumping to 12th as a sophomore and then winning his final two seasons. Boasting a 3.3 grade-point average, Beadlescomb will study and run next at Michigan State University, where he’ll major in mechanical engineering. He also recently was one of 12 finalists statewide for the Detroit Athletic Club’s annual Michigan High School Athlete of the Year awards, which are given to one female and male to recognize both athletic and academic achievement.
Coach Mark Simms said: “Morgan has a tremendous drive and work ethic. He does not accept finishing second and drives to be the best he can be. Morgan is the most talented track athlete that I have been associated with in my 22-year career. Morgan has left his mark here at Algonac High School. His track records will probably stand for years to come.”
Performance Point: “I remember I took the race out too fast, and that made the entire race difficult. It was hard to hang in there the whole time. But my coaches were there the whole time cheering me on and motivating me, some kids from Michigan State were there watching old teammates and cheering me on, and my parents were too. (The atmosphere) helped motivate me while I was running, for sure. There never really was a silent part of the track.”
Leaving a legacy: “I’m hoping people will remember my work ethic. I worked hard to get where I am. I’m not a naturally talented athlete, and I’ve not always been at the front of the pack … so I hope people will remember me for that.”
Finish strong: “I’m hoping to place top in the nation in the mile or 2-mile; I’m leaning more toward the 2-mile. I’ve got more national goals than I have had in the past. The state meet is going to be difficult because I’m going for the mile/2-mile double. In the mile (1,600) there are two kids under 4:20, but if I play it smart I think I can win that. The 2-mile (3,200) is really difficult (because of) Noah Jacobs. He’s so smart, he knows how to run, he doesn’t get too excited. It’s a battle against him, but I always look forward to it.”
Racing Jacobs: “It’s nice because we’re not at each other’s throats. We like each other, we’re friends, and it’s nice to race against him. It’s a healthy competition. Every sport, I think most kids are like that, especially in high school. Most sports, I've found, kids get along with the other athletes, especially when they get more toward the top, the elite teams. It’s nice to share experiences. We learn from each other.”
Morgan in motion: “I’ve always loved working on moving things. I grew up racing motocross, and I love not only riding but working on the motorcycles. I love learning about cars. If it has a motor, it’s my thing.”
– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor
Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.
The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster.
Previous 2015-16 honorees
May 4: Abby Krzywiecki, Farmington Hills Mercy softball - Read
April 27: Mike Mokma, Holland Christian baseball - Read
April 20: Abby Divozzo, Cadillac girls soccer - Read
March 30: Cassius Winston, Detroit U-D Jesuit boys basketball - Read
March 23: Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino girls basketball - Read
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Algonac's Morgan Beadlescomb leads during the final stretch of the Division 2 Cross Country Final last fall at Michigan International Speedway. (Middle) Beadlescomb (far right) prepares to make his move on the way to winning the 1,600 at last season's MHSAA LP Division 2 Track & Field Final. (Photos by Ike Lea and Carter Sherline, RunMichigan.com.)
Aspirations High as Reigning Champion Hackett Vaults Into New Season
By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com
March 14, 2023
KALAMAZOO — Harrison Wheeler has not been a pole vaulter for very long – two weeks to be exact – but he already has some lofty goals.
The sophomore is aiming for the Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep record board and, if he makes it, he will be in good company.
Coach Shelly (Martin) Germinder, a 2001 Hackett graduate, still holds the girls record of 10 feet, 2½ inches.
“I’m hoping to have my name next to hers (on the record board),” Wheeler said.
The sophomore has a few feet to go before surpassing current record holder Brian Kucinich, who vaulted 12 feet, 6 inches in 1992.
Wheeler’s unofficial best is 9 feet; officially it is 8 feet, 6 inches.
“That is going to be a very big jump in my pole vaulting career,” he said.
Wheeler is one of 42 athletes on the reigning MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 champion boys team, which includes 12 seniors and 13 juniors. Besides Wheeler, the team has six sophomores and 10 freshmen.
One of the returners is senior Liam Mann, who helped lead the Irish to the Finals title last year.
Mann, Andrew Finley, Evan Wurtz and Isaac Backman won the 800-meter relay with a time of 1:31.55 last season, setting a school record as well.
While he lost his relay mates, Mann said there are good runners to replace them.
“(Senior) Brice Brown is coming out to do track, and I’ve been working with him this winter,” Mann said. “Jude Coffman, who is a sophomore, is coming out this year. I think he’s going to be a good addition to our 4-by-1.
“(Junior) Gabe Oeurn, last year he was running solid times, but this year he’s been putting in the work and I think he’ll be able to break that 12-second barrier.”
Mann, who will attend Ashland (Ohio) University on a track scholarship in the fall, also added gold in the 200-meter dash (22.82) last season.
“Last year, I played basketball and was able to lift to keep in shape,” he said. “This year, I wanted to focus all my time on track, so I’ve been doing indoor track, practicing once a week and going to meets on weekends.”
He continued to put his skills on display as a running back during football season with Kalamazoo United, ending the fall with 1,413 rushing yards on 177 carries and 267 receiving yards on 10 catches.
Opportunities & possibilities
The biggest group of competitors impacted by graduation are the sprinters, coach Charissa Dean said.
“Hackett’s been really big on sprinting talent in general,” she said. “But track has 17 events, and only two of them are open sprint events and two are relays.
“The other 13 are wide open for possibilities, and there’s a lot of younger talent that’s coming back this year. While they didn’t go to the state meet, they are the next generation of athletes coming up.”
Among that next generation are freshmen Marek Butkiewicz and Sean Siems, who “are incredibly talented athletes,” Dean said.
“(Junior) Gavin Sehy figured out how to do the distance thing this year in cross country.”
Sehy said he wanted to run track, but wasn’t sure where he fit.
“I thought I was mid-distance when I was younger, but my dad forced me to do cross country my sixth-grade year and it turned out I was decent at it so I kept doing (long distance) in track,” he said.
“It’s kind of brutal at times to train for long distance, mentally and physically, because you have to go on long runs, but I have fun with it. At the cross country state finals, I hit an 11 flat split at the two-mile, which beat my 3,200 best from last season, so we have yet to see my best times.”
Butkiewicz and Sehy have been running consistently six days a week all winter to prepare for their first meet, March 22.
“I’ve never done track,” the freshman said. “I know I can perform well. I know my times compared to other people.”
A sophomore this year, Alex Dumont had a 400-meter time that “came out of nowhere,” Dean said. “Toward the end of the season we recruited him to do the 4x8, so an 800-meter runner. That kid came through.
‘We actually took him to the state meet in the 4x8. He did the lead leg, and I clocked him at a 2:07. He was sprinting. It was an amazing leg in that relay.”
It was Germinder who converted Wheeler to the pole vault last year.
“Harrison’s a strong athlete, and just the way his mind works in that he asks questions and he wants to learn and he wants to improve,” she said.
“He wants to work hard, and he wants to put in the time. That’s something you need for that, along with the athletic component.”
Wheeler, who said he was shocked at being successful right away, competed for two weeks last season before a foot injury suffered on a vault sidelined him.
“It took her a whole season to finally convince me to do it,” he said. “I grabbed a pole one day and ended up being really good at it. Ever since, I’ve had a love of it.
“The feeling I have once I get in the air is almost like I’m just floating. When you get really good vaults and you get that nice height and good form, you get what we call a ‘stall.’ You just feel like you’re sitting up in the air for a second. It’s gotta be the coolest thing ever.”
Germinder has the background to help the Irish vaulters.
While at Hackett, she competed in the AAU National Championships and said she learned from the best, Oran Mitchell, a noted pole vaulting coach.
Her own coaching style revolves around the safety of the athletes.
“You can teach a lot of people to grab hold of a pole and pop yourself over,” she said. “But I want to make sure my athletes are safe. That’s really, really important to me, and that’s something that was instilled in me.
“When you’re jumping 6 to 16 feet, that’s a long way to fall. Safety is very important to me. If you’re not willing to put in the time, then I’m not the coach for you.”
Germinder said one of the foundations on which the team is built is leadership, which was instilled in the younger athletes by last year’s seniors.
“That’s one of the things our program is built on,” she said. “If you’re there because you want to get ready for the next sports season, we’ll coach you for that.
“If you want to be a state champion, we’ll coach you for that. That’s the really unique thing about track. There’s something for everyone, whatever that might be.”
As for the girls team, numbers are steadily climbing.
Five years ago, the team had just two girls. This year, 25 girls are on the team.
No matter girls or boys, track or field events, one thing is common for all the athletes.
“We pray before every meet, we put God first, and all those pieces have fallen into place for us.” Germinder said.
“I really believe that foundation is what is going to be our success this year. It’s there, it’s just a different team.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Hackett's Harrison Wheeler points to the pole vaulting record he hopes to break this season, while pole vaulting coach Shelly (Martin) Germinder points to the record she still holds at the school. (Middle) Clockwise from top left: Hackett head track & field coach Charissa Dean, Liam Mann, Germinder and Gavin Sehy. (Below) The Irish celebrate last season’s Finals championship, from left: Dean, Sehy, Logan St. Martin, Alex Dumont, Mitch Eastman, Nick Doerr and Germinder. (Top photo and head shots by Pam Shebest; team photo courtesy of Hackett track & field.)