Adrian Madison Follows Rosales to Top

By Wes Morgan
Special for

June 4, 2017

COMSTOCK PARK – Doing one better was the theme for Adrian Madison’s girls track & field team Saturday at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Comstock Park.

A year after finishing runner-up, the Trojans nabbed a team championship with 56½ points. Lansing Catholic was second with 41, and Shepherd took third with 33.

It was a prolific final performance by senior Megan Rosales that sparked the victory, as she played a role in four wins for the Trojans. Rosales, who won the 400 meters in 2015, was runner-up in the 300 hurdles and part of the winning 800 relay last season, made her last meet count with a season-best time of 57.02 seconds to win the 400, and a first-place run of 45.05 in the 300 hurdles. She joined teammates Delaney Stersic, Sierra Hernandez and Chelsea Short as the fastest 800 relay squad (1:44.11) and she anchored the 1,600 relay to a repeat title in 3:57.80. Short, Stersic and Hernandez ran the first three legs.

Today was definitely one to remember,” Rosales said. “We took the saying ‘going out with a bang’ to a whole new level. None of this would be possible without all of (these girls). I'm so proud of you all and everything that you girls have accomplished. This is what we've all worked for. It all paid off in the end. No better way to end my high school running career.”

The Trojans enjoyed all-state efforts by Kiarah Horn, who was third in the pole vault with a height of 11 feet, and Anne Wong, who tied for eighth in the same event at 10 feet. Chelsea Short registered a sixth-place time of 26.24 in the 200.

Shepherd may have had to settle for third place overall, but the program delivered a third MHSAA title in four seasons in the 3,200 relay. This time, however, the team clocked a Division 3 meet record time of 9:18.06. It was the quartet of Rachel Mathers, Katelyn Hutchinson, Kylie Hutchinson and Amber Gall that now boasts the best of all time, dethroning Benzie Central’s 2011 performance of 9:22.71. Gall also won the 800 in 2:14.81.

Parchment junior Shiyon Taylor took home a pair of championships after running a personal-record in the 100 (12.41) and a top time of 25.96 in the 200.

Lansing Catholic junior Olivia Theis was the best of the bunch in the 3,200, which featured two sets of sisters among the all-state top-eight performers. Freshman Jaden Theis was third for Lansing Catholic in 10:34.73, while Hart sophomore Adelyn Ackley was runner-up (10:34.47) and junior Alayna Ackley placed eighth in 11:07.30.

Olivia Theis completed the distance double with a championship in the 1,600, winning by more than five seconds with a personal-record of 4:50.10. Adelyn Ackley recorded a second-place time of 4:55.53, while Jaden Theis was third in 4:55.81, setting the stage for some exciting races to come.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Adrian Madison's Megan Rosales pulls away from the field during the 400 in helping her team to the overall championship. (Middle) Shepherd, right, and Lansing Catholic also put up strong performances at Saturday's Division 3 Finals. (Click to see more from

East Kentwood Friends Continuing to Excel as NCAA Champ, Pro Soccer Keeper

By Steve Vedder
Special for

August 8, 2022

Maia Perez and Gabriela Leon saw it coming.

In fact, the two 2017 East Kentwood all-staters each predicted remarkable post-high school success for each other long before graduation.

Perez was a four-year letterwinner as a soccer goalkeeper who led the Falcons to the Division 1 Semifinals as a sophomore and now plays professionally in Los Angeles. Leon, an all-state pole vaulter in high school, recently became University of Louisville's first NCAA champion in that event.

The two say the success doesn't come as a surprise to either, that part of that success can be explained because they continually pushed each other athletically at East Kentwood.

"Obviously there are a lot of good athletes at East Kentwood, and she was one of those amazing athletes," Perez said of Leon. "When she accomplished something, I wanted to do something big, too. I was all-state in soccer, she was all-state in track, and it was nice to have someone push you, even on days when you didn't feel like being pushed."

Leon credits Perez for helping her grasp the difference between toiling as an ordinary athlete and rising to an elite status as early as the ninth grade.

"When you see high-caliber athletes in the state finals, I think you see the struggles that others don't see," Leon said. "I saw what she was doing, and I learned from that. I learned, and I think she did too, that you have to work hard to be good, to achieve your goals. There is definitely mutual respect between us."

East Kentwood track & fieldThe two met as freshmen and quickly became friends. They originally had soccer in common as both played junior varsity as freshmen before Perez was promoted to varsity later that spring. The teammates began hanging out together off the field, be it at the beach or while taking the school's advanced physical education class together. By the time they were sophomores, however, it had become apparent that Perez's future – despite being a good basketball player – would remain in soccer, while Leon – who had also lettered in volleyball and cross country – narrowed her focus to track.

Both excelled after leaving East Kentwood. Leon had earned her first top-eight MHSAA Finals places as a sophomore, and as a senior placed fourth in pole vault, third in long jump and ran on the fourth-place 400 relay and third-place 1,600 relay as East Kentwood finished third in Lower Peninsula Division 1. Her high school personal records were 13 feet in pole vault and 18-11 in long jump (with a wind-aided 19-7). She broke Louisville's indoor and outdoor records in the pole vault as a sophomore and never looked back. She won the 2022 NCAA outdoor championship in June with a jump of 15-feet, one inch (4.6 meters) while becoming just the fourth collegian ever to amass three clearances over 4.6 meters.

Perez was a three-time Ottawa-Kent Conference Red soccer pick in high school who helped the Falcons in 2015 to their best postseason finish, when they lost to 1-0 in a Semifinal to eventual Division 1 champ Saline. She went on to play at University of Hartford after attracting interest from other programs including Western Michigan, Coastal Carolina and Pittsburgh. She wound up playing every minute of all 37 of her starts as a sophomore and junior while missing just 45 minutes over 19 games as a freshman. COVID-19 wiped out the program's season when Perez was a senior. Still, she is eighth on the school's all-time saves list with 206 while ranking 10th in shutouts with 12.

Following college, Perez was signed by the Los Angeles-based Angel City FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. While she wasn't drafted by any NWSL club, Perez impressed coaches enough during a tryout to land a spot on the team's "Discovery List" as the youngest of three goalkeepers.

"Things have been going real well for me there," Perez said. "I feel like I've improved a ton."

While Perez credits Leon with pushing her as an athlete, she said the two didn't necessarily dwell on what they accomplished in high school. They did, however, compare notes on the similarities it took for both to succeed, both physically and mentally.

"We didn't necessarily talk about (honors) a lot," Perez said. "We both knew what each other accomplished, and I don't think we need to talk about it. But I just knew one day she would be really good in track."

East Kentwood soccerLeon said the trait which stuck out about Perez in high school was her competitive drive. She hated to lose, Leon said.

"She was always a very impressive athlete," Leon noted. "She always had (success) in her because she was a real hard worker. Going into high school you could see her work ethic. We had a mutual friendship, and I saw what a work ethic and being humble could do for you."

As for herself, Leon, like many athletes, explored playing many sports. But she always came back to track.

"I always wanted to be the best athlete I could be," she said. "I was never just satisfied with just doing something. I always had this deep desire to perform to the best of my ability."

Perez remembers the first sport which interested her was skateboarding. In fact, the first time Perez met then-East Kentwood coach John Conlon, she told him she was only marginally interested in soccer. Conlon, who led East Kentwood’s girls and boys programs to a combined 654 wins and the boys varsity to five Division 1 championships, quickly made a convert of Perez.

"It's funny how things work out," Perez said. "I was looking for something that I could really be a part of, and now it's my job and I'm so happy I can say I'm getting paid for something I really like."

2021-22 Made in Michigan

Aug. 3: 3-Time Finals Champ Cherishes Memories, Considering Golf Future - Read
Aug. 1: 
Lessons Learned on Track Have Jibowu's Business Surging to Quick Success - Read
July 28: 
Running Set Life's Stage for Grosse Pointe South's Record-Setting Meier Sisters - Read
July 25: 
2005 Miss Basketball DeHaan Cherishing Newest Title: 1st-Time Mom - Read
July 21: 
Championship Memories Still Resonate with St. Thomas Star Lillard - Read
July 14:
Portage Central Champ Rolls to Vanderbilt, Writing Next Chapter in Alabama - Read
July 12: Coaching Couple Passing On Knowledge, Providing Opportunities for Frankfort Wrestlers - Read
June 30: Hrynewich's Star Continuing to Rise with Olympic, Pro Sports Arrivals - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Clockwise from left, Gabriela Leon competes for the East Kentwood and University of Louisville track & field teams, and Maia Perez plays soccer for East Kentwood and trains for the NWSL's Angel City FC. (Middle) Leon holds up her NCAA championship trophy in June. (Below) Perez is one of three keepers for Angel City FC. [Photos courtesy of East Kentwood's athletic department (2017 soccer), Run Michigan (2017 track & field), the Louisville athletic department (2022 track & field) and Will Navarro/Angel City FC (2022 soccer).]