HUDSONVILLE – After two years away, Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep is back on top of the Lower Peninsula Division 4 boys track & field world.
Using a balanced effort Saturday, the Irish held off 2021 champ Carson City-Crystal to take home the Finals hardware with 64 points. The Eagles finished with 56, while Wyoming Potter’s House Christian placed third with 45.
“Everybody came to work. We knew if we stood a chance, everyone had to get every point possible, and our guys did that,” Hackett coach Carl Scholten said of his team, which added its first title since repeating in 2018 and 2019. “This is a competitive group that has been driven to succeed all year, and this is a great culmination of all their work.”
Highlighting the day for the Irish was a 1-2-3 finish in the 200-meter dash. Junior Liam Mann took home the victory with a time of 22.82, while teammates Andrew Finley and Isaac Backman finished right behind him.
Mann was overcome with energy after the finish, so much so that he tripped and tumbled to the ground. However, the pain of the fall couldn’t overcome his joy of winning.
“I just gave it my all and as I was coming through, I started to celebrate a little bit and my legs just gave out,” Mann said of the tumble. “The race felt great. I knew I had my work cut out for me, but it felt great to win and see my teammates right there with me.”
Mann was also with Finley and Backman, and also Evan Wurtz, as the winning 800-meter relay team. The Irish finished with a time of 1:31.55. Backman came through with a championship of his own in the 400, winning with a time of 50.85.
Along with the three event wins, Hackett had a combined six runner-up or third-place finishes on the day.
Carson City-Crystal came up just shy of repeating as champion, but the Eagles still had three championship performances of their own.
Michigan-bound Zane Forist finished his throwing career on a high note, resetting his LP Division 4 Finals records in both the discus (200-4) and the shot put (67-5). His shot put toss was ¾ of an inch from matching the all-Finals record.
“I really didn’t know about (the record) until today, so it wasn’t something I was really shooting for,” Forist said. “I just wanted to PR (personal record), and I did that in both of my events, so I am really happy with my performance.”
Cavanaugh Barker took home the 300 hurdles title for Carson City-Crystal with a PR time of 40.02. He also finished second in the 110 hurdles.
Potter’s House was led by distance runner Lezawe Osterink, who won championships in both the 1,600 (4:24.29) and the 3,200 (9:38.23).
“The mile was more challenging. I have to do a lot of work in the mile,” Osterink said. “I was confident going into the two-mile. I knew I just had to run my race. In the mile, I knew I couldn’t make a mistake, because there were some really fast guys in that race that could leg me out.”
Flint Beecher junior Jaylin Townsend repeated as champion in the 100 dash with a time of 10.78. Townsend managed to win despite his left hand being in a cast after breaking a finger a little over a week ago.
“I feel pretty good about how things went. I’ve had to change my block start because of the broken finger,” Townsend said of his injury, which also is on his baton-carrying hand but didn’t prevent him from anchoring two scoring relays on the day. “It affected me more mentally than it did physically. I just had to focus on getting out quick and working on my technique.”
Reading junior Tyler Bays came out a winner in the 800 run with a time of 2:00.02, while Colon’s Alexander Stoll won the 110 hurdles with a PR time of 14.92.
Buckley won the 1,600-meter relay with a time of 3:30.71, while Clarkston Everest Collegiate won the 400-meter relay in a time of 44.17.
Coleman’s Isiah Biers won the championship in the pole vault with a PR vault of 13-4. Peck’s Alex Affer won the long jump with a PR leap of 22-3.25, while Marion’s Braden Prielipp won the high jump with a PR jump of 6-9.
PHOTOS (Top) Hackett's Andrew Finley, middle, wins his 100 dash prelim Saturday. (Middle) Flint Beecher's Jaylin Townsend, also middle, wins his 100 prelim as well on the way to repeating as race champion. (Click for more from Dave McCauley/Run Michigan.)
David Kozisek ♦ Pickford
Senior ♦ Track & Field
Kozisek was an exchange student from Czech Republic this school year, and when he returns home this week he'll do so having accomplished a rare feat in MHSAA track & field history. On Saturday he became the ninth male athlete to win four individual events at a Finals, taking first in the 110 hurdles (15.40), 300 hurdles (41.39), high jump (6-3) and long jump (20-10) in helping Pickford to the Upper Peninsula Division 2 team championship.
After also playing football and basketball for the Panthers, Kozisek joined the track & field team this spring with plenty of knowledge having competed in that sport over the last six years in his home country. He was incredibly close to leaving an even larger historical imprint last weekend; Kozisek's long jump and high jump both were just one inch off tying UPD2 Finals records, and his 110 time missed that meet record by only six hundredths of a second. He was the first to win four boys events with the combination of two hurdles races and two jumps, and the second four-time individual winner joining Joe Baker, who in 1974 became the first from any school to win four Finals events.
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PHOTOS courtesy of 2BU Photography.