Preview: Star Power Expected to Shine

June 2, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The MHSAA Track & Field Finals again will draw one of the largest groups of competitors of any championship event in the state this school year.

And fans surely will recognize a number of names from Finals past – including, on the boys side, a number of seniors looking to add to their previous piles of titles.

See below for some of the teams and individuals who should be among those in the championship mix at Saturday's boys meets. Click for meet information including all qualifiers and come back Saturday night for results as they come in. And be sure to check out MHSAA.TV for live streaming of running events from both peninsulas, available with subscription.

LP Division 1 at East Kentwood

Top Regional scores: East Kentwood 171½, Macomb Dakota 163, Rockford 160.

East Kentwood: The Falcons finished third a year ago, but a few years doesn’t erase memories of the program’s five Division 1 championships between 2009-14 and runner-up finish in 2015. Senior Khance Meyers could pile up points again as the reigning champion in the 100 and 200 meters – he has the division’s fastest times in both of those events this season (10.55 and 21.02, the latter wind-aided). The Falcons’ 800 relay also has run the fastest time in LP Division 1 and in the 1,600 the second fastest, and East Kentwood athletes have division top-three performances in three other events as well this spring.

Oak Park: Reigning 800 champion Cameron Cooper is back to pace the team champion, and he’s run the fastest race at that distance in LP Division 1 at 1:50.80 and had the fastest Regional 1,600 by more than a second. All four of Oak Park’s relays have run times among the top four in the division this season, with Cooper’s 1,600 relay has the fastest in that race at 3:16.56.

Rockford: The Rams finished nine points back of Oak Park last season but could make it much closer this time around. Junior Cole Johnson has run the division’s fastest 1,600 (4:09.43) and second-fastest 800 this season. Rockford also ran the division’s fastest 400 relay just last weekend (41.64), and has run the third-fastest times in the 800 and 1,600.

Ann Arbor Skyline junior Anthony Giannobile: The reigning champion in the 1,600 has run only the seventh fastest time in the division this spring, but should contend again.

East Lansing senior Kentre Patterson: The reigning champion in the 110 hurdles has run the fastest time in LP Division 1 in that race this spring (13.95) and the second-fastest time in the 300 (38.80).

Salem senior Mason Phillips: He returned to track & field this season for the first time since freshman year and started long jumping about a month ago – but his wind-aided season high of 24 feet, 1 inch, would tie the all-Finals record if he can replicate it Saturday without the breeze.

LP Division 2 at Zeeland

Top Regional scores: Dearborn Divine Child 179, Coldwater 150½, Zeeland East 144.

Corunna: The Cavaliers should be contenders for their first team championship since winning Class B back-to-back in 1998 and 1999. On Tuesday, senior Noah Jacobs ran the division’s fastest 3,200 this season (9:17.55) and sophomore brother Ben Jacobs ran the fastest 1,600 (4:20.46). They also are part of the 3,200 relay (7:57.58) that posted the division’s fastest time in the event over the weekend.

Grand Rapids Christian: The Eagles have top-10 performances this season in six individual events and three relays, with senior Faida Muriithi entering this weekend with the top long jump (23-1¾) this spring. The 800 relay (1:30.52) also has the fastest time in this division in that event.

Lansing Waverly: The Warriors look good to contend for their first MHSAA team title after the girls team won its first last spring. Waverly on Tuesday ran the division’s fastest 1,600 relay (3:25.96) and senior Wanya’ Sanders ran the fastest 400 (49.38). Sophomore Keshaun Harris has run top-three times in both hurdles races and he and Sanders are part of an 800 relay that has the second fastest time in the division.

Pierre Brown, Romulus junior: He finished third in the 100 last season and enters this weekend with the top time in the 100 (10.82) in the division this spring.

Noah Caudy, Lake Odessa Lakewood senior: The reigning champion in the 110 hurdles (and fourth-place finisher in the 300) could claim two titles; his 14.12 from his Regional is the fastest in the 110 race, and his 37.71 in the 300 earlier this week also is an LP Division 2 best.

Johnathon Sholl, Sturgis senior: Although his 22.63 is only the eighth fastest 200 time in the division this spring, he is the reigning champion in the event after running a time last year that would be the fastest this season. 

LP Division 3 at Comstock Park

Top Regional scores: 1. Warren Michigan Collegiate 151, 2. Clare 147½, 3. Chesaning 146½.

Chesaning: The Indians finished fourth last season with 28 points and could surpass that total just in relays; they have the top 400 (43.76) time in LP Division 3 this season, the fastest as well in the 800 (1:30.20) and the third-fastest in the 1,600. Juniors Sam Forsyth (22-1) and Brandon Keys (22-0½) have the top long jumps in the division this spring as well.

Hillsdale: The Hornets finished runners-up the last two seasons but might have enough to push for their first title. Junior Devin VanDusen ran the division’s second-fastest 100 this season at the Regional and will run on three relays. Senior Rees Nemeth should be a contender in the 110 hurdles, and has the top pole vault (15-9) by nearly a foot in LP Division 3. Senior Spencer Eves is tied for the top high jump (6-6) this spring, and thrower Tristan Burcham and long jumper Nathan Gimenez give Hillsdale contenders in the other three field events as well.

Saugatuck: The LP Division 4 champion two straight seasons and three of the last four will try to add a Division 3 title to the mix, although this time without four-time individual champion Blake Dunn, who was lost to a knee injury early this spring. Still, the team has pushed on led in part by sophomore Corey Gorgas and senior Zachary Pettinga, who both have times among the best in the division in the 3,200 and run on the 3,200 relay that’s posted the division’s fastest time (8:09.50) this season; Gorgas also ranks among the fastest 1,600 runners this spring.

Anthony Evilsizor, Constantine senior: He has the fourth-fastest time in the division in the 800, but is the reigning champ with a time last year that would be the best in the division this spring.

Evan Goodell, St. Louis senior: The reigning 3,200 champion is the one to beat in both distance races, entering with the division’s top times in both the 1,600 (4:18.18) and 3,200 (9:05.06). That 3,200 time would break the meet record by seven seconds.

Thomas Robinson, Wyoming Lee junior: The reigning champion in the 100 and 200 has run the division’s fastest times in both of those events this spring (10.78 and 21.78, respectively). Those times are within hundredths of a second of the meet records in those races.

Dan Stone, Frankenmuth senior: After taking fourth in discus and second in shot put as a junior, Stone has the top throws in both events this spring (183-10 and 59-11, respectively), the discus by nearly 20 feet and the shot put by nearly four.

LP Division 4 at Grand Rapids Houseman Field

Top Regional scores: 1. Whittemore-Prescott 187, Lutheran Westland 179, Manton 161½.

Concord: The Yellow Jackets’ rise from ninth last season could start with senior Daniel Mikovits, the reigning champ in the 800 with the fastest time in that race (1:56.75) in this division this season. Three qualifying relays have posted times among the top eight in the division as well, while seniors Bradley Hawkins (discus) and Justin Detgen (3,200) also are likely contenders.

Evart: Last season’s runner-up graduated a two-event champion but has athletes who have posted top-10 performances in the division this season in two sprints, two distance races and two field events. Junior Scott Martin is tied for top high jump (6-6), and the 400 relay’s best time ranks second.

Whittemore-Prescott: The Cardinals were sixth last season but only six points out of second place. The 800 relay’s top time of 1:32.43 is best in the division this season, and two more relays rank among the top six. Whittemore-Prescott could also get some needed points in the 400, 3,200 and field events and have qualifiers all over Saturday’s lineup.

Jeremy Kloss, Harbor Springs senior: He took only sixth in the 1,600 and 3,200 last season, but has the fastest times in the division in both races this spring (4:26.71 and 9:49.52, respectively).

Alec Muck, Sand Creek sophomore: The reigning 200 champion also took third in the 100 last year; his 22.43 in the 200 at the Regional is the fastest time in the division this spring, and his 11.04 in the 100 last weekend ranks third in that race.

Bryce Washington, Southfield Christian junior: Washington’s 6-3 at his Regional ties for sixth highest in the division this season, but he went 6-5 in winning at last year’s Finals.

Paxton Titus, Brighton Livingston Christian senior: The reigning discus champion also finished seventh in shot put last year, and he has the top tosses in both in 2017 – 182-6 and 58-10, respectively. That best shot put would break the meet record by more than four inches.

UP Division 1 at Kingsford

Top Regional scores: 1. Marquette 92, 2. Houghton 53, 3. Iron Mountain 43.

Marquette: The Redmen have won two straight titles and doubled up the field at their Regional winning all four relays and finishing first in three field events – but with only two individual race champions. Senior Taylor Althouse came in only fourth at the Regional in high jump, but is the reigning Finals champion in that event. Senior Bradley Seaborg is the reigning champion in the 300 hurdles.

Houghton: Last season’s runner-up should again get a major boost from junior Clayton Sayen, who won the 200 and 400 and his Regional and is the reigning 400 Finals champion as well. Senior Casey Lentowich placed among the top six in both hurdles races last season and should score well again.

Ryan Jones, Sault Ste. Marie senior: Last season’s 200 champion actually placed in four events including two as part of relays. He won both the 100 and 200 at his Regional.

Kyle McKenzie, Gladstone senior: McKenzie is the reigning pole vault champ and won his Regional with a vault of 12-0, six inches higher than the next best and also six inches higher than his Finals height a year ago.

UP Division 2 at Kingsford

Top Regional scores: 1. Newberry 104, 2. Ishpeming 67, T-3. Iron River West Iron County & St. Ignace, 29.

Newberry: The Indians are up a division after finishing third in UP Division 3 in 2016. They had the first-place finisher in every relay and all but one race at the Regional, while senior John Paramski got field event victories in the discus and shot put. Senior hurdler Alex Johnson and junior sprinter Andre James also both had multiple Regional wins.

Ishpeming: The Hematites are trying for their fourth straight Division 2 championship after pulling off the feat last year without an individual champion (but by winning three relays). Senior Grady Kerst should lead the charge; he won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at his Regional.

Alex Dewald, Hancock senior: He won both the 100 and 200 as a junior, and will need to make a jump after finishing fourth in both at his Regional this year.

David LaVake, St. Ignace senior: He was only fourth in his individual events at the Regional, the 100 and 400, but won the 400 last season at the Finals when he also ran on three relays.

Mitchell Peterson, St. Ignace senior: The reigning pole vault champion won by six inches last season, with the same distance (11-6) putting him second at the Regional last month.

Bryan Schram, Iron River West Iron County sophomore: After winning the shot put as a freshman (and finishing second in discus), Schram will try to win both throws after earning Regional titles in both.

UP Division 3 at Kingsford

Top Regional scores: 1. Rapid River 93, 2. Pickford 87½, 3. Bessemer 84.

Rapid River: The reigning Division 3 champion returns reigning discus champion and shot put placer junior Logan Hardwick and crushed its Regional by winning every relay and all but one individual race (plus two field events). Junior Lucas Sundling won the 100, 200 and 400 at the Regional and won the 400 at the Finals last year for Big Bay de Noc.

Pickford: The Panthers should make a nice jump after tying for seventh last season. Pickford won three relays at its Regional and likely has the lead jumper in freshman Nick Edington, who won both the long and high at the Regional.

Garrett O’Neil, Felch North Dickinson senior: After winning both hurdles races as a junior, O’Neil is a strong favorite to repeat in both after winning them at his Regional by significant margins.

PHOTO: St. Louis' Evan Goodell, left, and Corunna's Noah Jacobs, here at the Ithaca Invitational this spring, are favorites to win distance championships while competing in different divisions at this weekend's MHSAA Track & Field Finals. (Click to see more from

Hackett Catholic Prep's Baldwin Carrying Hopes from Home to Paris

By Pam Shebest
Special for

July 12, 2024

KALAMAZOO — Heath Baldwin studied Spanish at Hackett Catholic Prep, but he will need to brush up on some French as he heads to Paris to compete in the 2024 Summer Olympics.

The recent Michigan State University grad, who earned a master’s degree in marketing and research analytics, will compete in the decathlon, a two-day event Aug. 2-3 at the Stade de France.

While the Olympics will be televised in the United States, because of the time difference, Baldwin’s events will take place locally during the early morning hours.

Wishing him a Bon Voyage, more than 200 former classmates, friends, family and well-wishers plus six television crews congregated Thursday for an impressive sendoff, starting with the Hackett “Summer Ensemble” playing the school fight song.

A 2019 Hackett grad, Baldwin led the track & field team to three Regional championships, two MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 titles, was an individual five-time Finals champion, holds four school records and was named track & field Athlete of the Year for all divisions his senior season by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association.

“I went through a lot at Hackett, obviously, with my dad (Roger)  passing away (in 2016) and I always had a great support system of people who took care of my family and made sure we were doing good,” Baldwin said. “They’ve stuck with me through college, too, following me in all my events and to this point, so it’s cool that I’m doing well now and they’re along for the ride.”

Hackett clears a hurdle during the 2019 MHSAA Finals.The ride will begin Tuesday when Baldwin travels to Germany to train before heading to Paris.

“Everything’s starting to feel more real,” he said. “I think once I get to Germany and start to train with other people, we’ll be able to get a little competitive. I think it will be fun training in Paris.”

Facing a huge crowd in Paris should not be a problem, he said.

“The more people will only help me. I’m a big adrenalin guy. I feel like I get more nervous talking at an event like this than I do for the Olympic Games.

“Once I get out on the track, everything just feels natural to me.”

Naturally a no-brainer

Baldwin’s Finals championships for Hackett had come in high jump, long jump and both hurdles races. Tackling the grueling decathlon was a no-brainer.

“I was good at the hurdles, high jump, long jump, which are three very technical events in the decathlon, so if you’re good at those three, you usually can pick up the other ones pretty easily is what they say,” he said.

“Also, I played baseball as a pitcher, so that correlated with the javelin. A lot of college coaches recruited me off that, I think.”

Baldwin said knew 2024 was an Olympic year, “so I thought it was something I maybe could do. After last year, when I scored above 8,000 points (in the decathlon) for the first time and came in sixth at the USAs, it became a little more realistic for me.”

The personable athlete not only qualified for the Olympics at this year’s U.S. Track & Field Trials in Eugene, Ore., but won the decathlon with a personal best 8,625 points.

He finished first in the shot put (54 feet, 2½ inches), high jump (6-11¾), 110 hurdles (13.77 seconds) and javelin throw (218-9). 

MHSAA trophies Baldwin helped win decorated the stage for his sendoff.Other decathlon events are the 100 dash, long jump, 400 run, discus, pole vault and 1,500 run.

Baldwin earned Great Lakes Region Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year honors and was named first team Academic All-American with a 3.8 GPA.

"We were awestruck at his athletic achievements (at Hackett),” said Judge Paul Bridenstine, the “Voice of the Irish.” 

“While he continued to play football, basketball, baseball exceptionally at Hackett, his athletic life was transformed when he was introduced to (former HCP track & field coach Simon Cholometes).”

Cholometes said Baldwin’s success is something that didn’t come out of nowhere.

“Heath put the wheels in motion a long time ago and worked harder than most people can even fathom,” he said. “I can remember 5:40 in the morning, Heath running sprints up that hill over there,” he said, pointing. “A foot of snow, running sprints up that tall hill.

“In college, he’s a Big 10 champ, three-time All-American, Great Lakes Region Indoor and Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year, MSU’s Athlete of the Year twice, holds five school records plus Big 10 records in heptathlon and decathlon.”

Family won't be far

Baldwin plans to be in Paris for the opening ceremonies and will be cheered on by his mom Suzann, sister Hope and brothers Aiden and Gowan.

The Olympian also will have a remembrance of his late father with him. He has a tattoo of his dad’s signature on the inside of his upper left arm.

A hurdle that was gifted to Baldwin on Thursday.Losing his father “was a big part of my life and obviously changed my perspective in the way I train and the way I live in a way he’d be proud of,” Baldwin said.

“We set some big goals going into this year and it’s been a dream. I love representing the Kalamazoo community and Michigan, Hackett and Michigan State.

“I like to remember everybody I compete for, and I think that gives you a bigger purpose when you go out there. That’s definitely something I’ll be doing at the Olympics in Paris. I’m excited to represent there and hopefully go for a medal.”

PHOTOS (Top) Health Baldwin, seated, signs a hat during his sendoff Thursday at Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep. (2) Baldwin clears a hurdle during the 2019 MHSAA Finals. (3) A hurdle was gifted to Baldwin on Thursday. (4) MHSAA trophies Baldwin helped win decorated the stage for his sendoff. (Sendoff photo by Pam Shebest.)