Preview: Don't Miss This Grand Finale
May 31, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Pick a division – any of seven Saturday – and you’re bound to find a senior standout finishing his career at the MHSAA Boys Track & Field Finals.
Michigan high schools regularly graduate star-loaded classes in this sport – but with reigning champions headlining lineups all over the Lower and Upper Peninsula this weekend, this grand finale guarantees to be memorable.
Below is a look at some of the teams and individuals to watch at Saturday’s boys meets. All events begin at 9 a.m. local time on both peninsulas.
Click for meet information including all qualifiers. Check out MHSAA.tv for live streaming of running events from both peninsulas, available with subscription and beginning at 10 a.m., and come back Saturday night for results as they come in and coverage of all seven meets on Second Half.
LP Division 1 at East Kentwood
Top Regional team scores: 1. Grosse Pointe South 142, 2. East Kentwood 139.5, 3. Alpena 130, 4. Plymouth 125, 5. Macomb Dakota 114.
Team forecast: East Kentwood has won the last two LPD1 championships and seven of the last 10. The Falcons look like significant favorites again with the fastest Regional times in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays, top-five times in five individual races and contenders in at least three field events.
Detroit Renaissance’s Dylan Brown: The junior sprinter ran the top Regional time in the 200 (21.69) and second-fastest in the 100 (10.75) and also runs on two contending relays. He was part of the winning 800 relay and finished fifth in the 200 last season for Detroit Martin Luther King.
Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Nick Foster: The senior distance standout is looking to add to last season’s championships in the 3,200 and as part of the 3,200 relay. His 9:16.60 in the 3,200 was the third fastest in LPD1 Regionals this spring, and he ran the fastest 1,600 (4:12.87).
Lansing Waverly’s Keshaun Harris: The reigning 300 hurdles champion is seeking to sweep those races after finishing a close second as well in the 110 race last spring. He had the fastest LPD1 Regional time in the 110 (14.23) and sixth-fastest in the 300 (38.71).
Rockford’s Noah Stallworth: After coming in fifth in the 100 and eighth in the 200 as a junior, Stallworth had the fastest 100 (10.54) and second-fastest 200 (21.79) at LPD1 Regionals and runs on 400 and 1,600 relays that both were the third fastest in qualifying. He was part of the 400 relay champion in 2017.
LP Division 2 at Zeeland
Top Regional team scores: 1. Dearborn Divine Child 193, 2. Zeeland West 157, 3. Corunna 139.67, 4. Parma Western 130, 5. Yale 118.
Team forecast: The LPD2 Finals have seen 15 schools win the championship at least once over the last 16 seasons. Zeeland West might the favorite this time, after also winning in 2014, with big scoring possible in the hurdles, middle and distance races, long jump and at least three relays.
Otsego’s Alex Comerford: Last season’s 3,200 champ will look to finish his high school career with a pair of titles after running the second-fastest LPD2 Regional time in that race (9:25.94) and fastest in the 1,600 (4:18.41) – although he faces strong competition in Corunna senior Ben Jacobs and East Grand Rapids junior Evan Bishop.
Tecumseh’s Jacob Denison: The 400 winner last season as a junior had the sixth-fastest LPD2 Regional time in that race (50.25) but the second-fastest in the 200 (22.29) and also runs on an 800 relay that should contend.
Saginaw’s Tony Martin: The reigning long jump champion went over 26 feet during a regular-season meet, which would break the all-Finals record by two feet. He won his Regional at 21-10.25, the second-best jump in LPD2 Regional competition behind the 22-3.5 of Hudsonville Unity Christian junior Isaac TeSlaa.
Coldwater’s Dylan Targgart: Coming off a sweep of the throws last season as a sophomore, Targgart had the best tosses in both the shot put (61 feet) and discus (166-8) at LPD2 Regionals. He should make a run at the LPD2 Finals shot put record of 61-8 set by Ogemaw Heights’ Anthony Zettel in 2011.
LP Division 3 at Jenison
Top Regional team scores: 1. Berrien Springs 174.5, 2. Warren Michigan Collegiate 161, 3. Caro 148, 4. Adrian Madison 139.5, 5. Madison Heights Bishop Foley 134.
Team forecast: Similar to LPD2, this division has seen nine schools take turns winning the last nine championships (although three schools have come in second at least twice during that time). Berrien Springs was the runner-up a year ago and should put up some points – but keep an eye out for Pewamo-Westphalia and Saugatuck. P-W should contend in the throws, sprints, middle distance and at least two relays, while Saugatuck – the Division 4 champion or co-champion three of the last six seasons – has the favorites in both distance and hurdles races.
Saugatuck’s Brad Dunn: After taking third in the 110 and fifth in the 300 hurdles last season, Dunn had the top LPD3 Regional times in both this spring as a senior at 14.66 and 40.18 seconds, respectively.
Saugatuck’s Corey Gorgas: After sweeping the 1,600 and 3,200 last season as a junior, Gorgas is favored to do so with the top LPD3 Regional times of 4:19.24 and 9:43.98, respectively – although 800 favorite Jeremey Kloss from Harbor Springs should be right there with him in the 1,600, as should Caro star Yami Albrecht.
Grandville Calvin Christian’s Caleb Schutte: The senior sprinter won the 100 last year and was on the winning 400 relay as a sophomore. He enters this weekend with the second-fastest LPD3 Regional time in the 100 at 11.01 and the fastest in the 200 at 22.24.
Berrien Springs’ Sam Spaulding: The reigning high jump champ won his Regional at 6-2, which ties him for fifth among all LPD3 Regional performances. He’s gone 6-5 this senior season, which would put him one inch shy of the best qualifying mark.
Kent City’s Giovanni Weeks: Another reigning champion looking to go out on top is Weeks, who won the 200 last season and finished just behind Schutte in that race (22.34) and also in the 100 (11.08) at the Regional. His winning Regional long jump of 21-3.5 was fourth in the division for all Regionals.
LP Division 4 at Hudsonville Baldwin Middle School
Top Regional team scores: 1. Lutheran Westland 172, 2. Southfield Christian 158, 3. Addison 155.25, 4. Maple City Glen Lake 138, 5. Kalamazoo Hackett 135.
Team forecast: Hackett won its first MHSAA Finals championship in this sport last season, and Addison could become a first-time champ with at least one competitor in all but one race and three of five field events. Hillsdale Academy could be that team this weekend too with favorites in at least three events and a solid contender in a fourth. Breckenridge is another possible first-time champion with the possibility of earning big points in the throws, distance races and sprint relays.
Kalamazoo Hackett’s Heath Baldwin: After winning the 110 hurdles and long jump last year, Baldwin will make a run at four championships in his last high school meet. He had the second-fastest LPD4 Regional times in the 110 (15.06) and 300 hurdles (40.63), tied for the fourth-highest high jump (6-3) and also won his long jump at 20-0.5.
Hale’s Patrick Harris: The champion in the 400 the last two years just missed qualifying in that race but will cap his high school career running the 200 and on a relay.
Sand Creek’s Alec Muck: The senior sprinter is one of the biggest stars competing, regardless of division, as he looks to add to his five championships including with a fourth straight in the 200. His 200 Regional time (22.85) came in fourth overall for LPD4 and his 100 time of 11.04 ranks second as he looks to win that title for the third straight season. He’s also part of the fastest 400 relay (44.44) coming off LPD4 Regional competition.
Carson City-Crystal’s Daniel Smith: The reigning shot put champ had the second-longest toss during LPD4 Regionals at 51-11.25, but again must contend with another senior, Breckenridge’s Brennan Waslusky (54-9.5) after finishing second to him at that meet two weeks ago.
UP Division 1 at Kingsford
Top Regional team scores: 1. Gladstone 79.5, 2. Ishpeming Westwood 56, 3. Marquette 55.5.
Team forecast: Gladstone will attempt to break Marquette’s four-year hold on Upper Peninsula Division 1 after coming in third a year ago. The Braves had 10 event champions at their Regional to Marquette’s four in the same meet.
Gladstone’s Adam Bruce: The 3,200 champion in 2017 as a sophomore, Bruce will try to finish his senior season with a distance sweep after posting the fastest 1,600 (4:40.73) and second-fastest 3,200 (10:29.38) at UPD1 Regionals.
Marquette’s Raphael Millado: The senior standout won both the long and high jumps last season and enters with the best UPD1 Regional showings in both at 19-11 and 6-2, respectively. He also had the fourth-fastest 200 qualifying time (24.12).
Escanaba’s Dayton Miron: The reigning pole vault champion enters this weekend’s meet tied with the second-highest vault at a UPD1 Regional (11-0), and he’ll also cap his junior season running on three relays.
Gladstone’s Calvin Thibault: The sophomore sprinter/hurdler could end up the star of this meet. He won the 110 and 300 hurdles last season and had the fastest UPD1 Regional times in those races two weeks ago at 15.40 and 41.25, respectively. He also paced the UPD1 qualifiers in the 100 (11.49) and 200 (23.64).
UP Division 2 at Kingsford
Top Regional team scores: 1. Newberry 74, 2. Ishpeming 65, 3. Norway 52.5.
Team forecast: Ishpeming is the reigning champion and has won four of the last five UPD2 titles, with Newberry defeating the runner-up Hematites to claim the championship in 2017. They competed in and won separate Regionals two weeks ago, but on paper Newberry appears to have the upper hand.
Manistique’s Schyler Andersen: The junior standout will make a run at four individual titles with the fastest UPD2 Regional time in the 400 (52.61), top discus throw (140-10), second-best shot put (43-0) and second-fastest 200 (23.70). His best at the 2018 Finals was a fourth place in shot put.
Gwinn’s David Duvall: After taking eighth in the 110 hurdles a year ago as a freshman, Duvall could make a big jump entering this weekend with the top UPD2 Regional times in the 100 (17.72) and 300 (45.35) and the second-best long jump (17-7.5).
Newberry’s Jaylen James: He’s ready to lead Newberry’s team title hunt after helping two relay champs a year ago. He enters with the best UPD2 Regional long jump (18-10), 100 (tie – 11.49), 200 (23.15) and running on the favored 800 relay (1:38.53).
Manistique’s Alex Misniakiewicz: The junior got close last season with two second places and a third in individual events. He enters this weekend as the top qualifier in the 800 (2:10.51), 1,600 (4:44.94) and second-best in the 3,200 (10:49.24).
UP Division 3 at Kingsford
Top Regional team scores: 1. Rapid River 105, 2. Bessemer 86, 3. Brimley 72.5.
Team forecast: Bessemer last season won its first championship in this sport since 1951 and should be in the mix again with the top performers from all UPD3 Regionals combined in nine events. Rapid River was the runner-up in 2018 after two straight titles in 2016 and 2017.
Bessemer’s Uriah Aili: The reigning champion in the 3,200 will make a run at winning at least three races as a senior with the top UPD3 Regional times in the 800 (2:02.41) and 3,200 (10:09.5) and second-fastest in the 1,600 (4:44.49). He also qualified in discus (103-3).
Cedarville’s Thomas Bohn: His 4:33.24 a year ago is the meet record, and he’s ahead of Aili in that race coming into this weekend at 4:43.81. Bohn, a junior, also will run the 3,200 (11:01.82) and 800 (2:07.84).
Bessemer’s Tyler Busch: The reigning shot put champion will look to repeat as a senior, entering with the best toss from UPD3 Regionals at 46-6.
Stephenson’s Montel Glover: The top UPD3 Regional performer in the 100 (11.30), 200 (23.85) and 400 (51.39) won all three of those races in UPD2 the last two seasons, and he’ll also run on a 1,600 relay with a chance at a title.
Bessemer’s Jamie Jett: He’ll look to add to his 2018 110 hurdles and 800 relay championships as a junior, entering this weekend with the top UPD3 Regional times in the 110 (16.76) and 300 (44.11). He’s also running the 200 (24.60) and competing in long jump (18-1.5).
PHOTOS: (Top) Stephenson’s Montel Glover, right, finishes just ahead of L’Anse’s Foster Miller in the 200 at last season’s UP Division 2 Finals. (Middle) Sand Creek’s Alec Muck powers through for one of his sprint championships in LP Division 4 last spring. (Click to see more from 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 email@example.com 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.)