September 25, 2017

Track Champions

Cardinals track burns competition at MITCA Division 4 state championships

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WHITTEMORE — Living true to its place in the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association rankings for the past couple of months, the Whittemore-Prescott boys track team won its first state title as the Division 4 MITCA state champions May 27.

The MITCA state meet is composed of schools that were power ranked in the top eight at the end of the season, as well as any regional champion that wasn’t, according to coach Jeff Erickson. At the meet, schools enter three athletes in each event and the athletes score based on the place they finish. Erickson said this allows for every athlete on the team to contribute to the scoring.

“This to me is the true state championship,” Erickson said. “All members count. Not just your top couple athletes who traditionally score all of the points.”

The Cardinals finished the meet with 930 points, more than 200 points more than its closest competitor Petersburg-Summerfield.

“The formula for winning a team championship meet is to have all of your top flight athletes do what they do and finish at or near the top of their events,” Erickson said. “All of our kids did that. But, in order to win you have to have the other kids step up and they certainly did that. It was crazy the number of kids that hit their personal-best times or distances.”

Top finishers included Azaiyah Bell, who finished fourth in the 100-meter and second in the 200-meter. Ian Driscoll finished third in the 400-meter. Bradley Lomason finished second in the 800-meter. Zane Aldrich won the 1,600-meter and finished second in the 3,200-meter. Michael Eagan finished fifth in the 110-meter hurdles, 11th in the high jump and won the long jump. Kyle Colton finished third in the 300-meter hurdles and 11th in the high jump. Nick Stern finished fourth in the shot put and second in discus. Shane Nichols finished fourth in the pole vault.

In the relay events runners Colton, Eagan, McKuen and Bell won the 100-meter; Schutte, Bell, McKuen and Lomason won the 200-meter; Schutte, Driscoll, Lomason and Nick Roberts finished second in the 400-meter; and Aldrich, Kensa, Lomason and Green finished second in the 800-meter.

Erickson said in addition to the outstanding performances, many of the athletes set personal records at the event.

“I knew we had a good chance to win the thing but if you would have told me that we would win by over 200 points I would have called you crazy,” Erickson said. “Those were excellent teams we competed against, the best in the state. I should have learned by now that with this group of kids anything is possible. They did not lose a single meet all season. They won every conference meet, dual meet and invitational they participated in and that wasn’t easy. We had a really tough schedule this year.”

Erickson said much of the team’s success was owed to the other coaches.

“So much credit has to go to coaches Al Kushion, Doug Grezeszak, Jody Yorton and Tim Yorton.” he said. “I doubt that any team in the state has as good of coaches as those four. Where they took those kids was amazing. I am beyond blessed to have had the opportunity to work with them this season.”

The team will head to Houseman Field in Grand Rapids for the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s state finals June 3.

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