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Local standouts steal the show at 39th annual West Michigan All-Star Track Meet

Josh VanDyke • May 25, 2017 at 4:30 AM

MUSKEGON — If you glanced over at the awards podium at any point during Wednesday’s 39th annual West Michigan All-Star Track meet at Reeths-Puffer High School, chances are you saw a Grand Haven, Spring Lake or Fruitport athlete standing atop the structure with a first-place medal in hand.

That’s because the Buccaneers, Lakers and Trojans medaled in 23 different events during the meet that featured the best of the best in the West Michigan area.

“This is a fun meet for the kids to compete in,” said Grand Haven boys track coach Joe Nelson. “There are no team scores, so everyone is just trying to finish their season on a positive note or get some quality competition in before the state meet.”

On the boys’ side of the event, Spring Lake’s Isaiah Pierce won the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.63 seconds, followed closely by Grand Haven’s Charlie Young at 49.79. The mark by Pierce sets a new school record in the event.

Fruitport’s Cameron Oleen won the 800 run with a time of 1:58.76, while Grand Haven’s Dominic Hentemann finished third with a time of 1:59.25.

Grand Haven’s Jack Nicholson finished third in the 1,600 run with a time of 4:28.03.

“Charlie running under 50 seconds is fantastic,” Nelson added. “That gives him the confidence that he knows he can do it at the state meet. The field in the open 400 is fast, too, so for him to PR today is a great step in the right direction heading to the state meet.

“Jack had a great race, too, so we’re excited about where we are at for those two. Dom just got put into the 800 a few weeks ago, and he’s been doing awesome. He’s been a pleasant surprise, and he just broke the 2-minute mark, today. For a senior to do that in his final race of the season, that’s a great feat for him. I was really happy to see all three of those guys PR on a big stage like this.”

Spring Lake’s 800 relay team of Chris Warner, Jason Keena, Parker Vetula and Pierce finished second (1:31.86) in their event, while the Lakers’ 1,600 relay team of Warner, Andrew Sellon, Vetula and Pierce finished third (3:28.92).

Fruitport’s 3,200 relay team of Aaron Simot, Mitchell Johnson, Brendan Deneen and Oleen won their event with a time of 8:01.64, while Grand Haven’s team of Quentin Couvelaire, Dominic Weatherwax, Hentemann and Nicholson finished second (8:12.23).

Also medalling for the Trojans were: Dallas Rogers finishing third in the shot put (44-11), Derek Monje (126-11.5) in the discus finishing third, Bailey Lynn finishing third in the pole vault (12-06) and Wyatt Kendra finishing second in the 300 hurdles (40.89).

Western Michigan Christian’s Jack Kim won the long jump (20-11.00) and finished third in the 110 hurdles (15.42).

SHOWSTOPPERS

The Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Fruitport girls squads stole the show on Wednesday, with 10 first-place finishes between the three programs.

Grand Haven’s Gabby Hentemann won the 800 run (2:13.61) and 1,600 run (4:51.40). With her 1,600-meter time, Hentemann broke her own personal and event record in the event.

“I was really happy with my race,” she said after the finish. “My coach wanted me to take the race out fast, and I thought I did that pretty well. I haven’t had much competition this year, and I hadn’t set a personal record yet this season before this race, so to have Adelyn (Ackley of Hart) here to push me really helped. I think that’s the competition I needed in order to PR.

“This is a really nice event. Earlier this year, I was in the 5:20 area with my time, and I had no one to race, so my coach put me in with the boys group for one meet, and I ran a 4:59.99. So it’s nice to push myself again, today.”

The new personal-best time gives Hentemann even more confidence that she can accomplish her goals at the June 3 state finals at East Kentwood.

“This is awesome going into the state finals,” she added. “I know I’ll be pushed there, as well. My goal this year was 4:55, and I knew I needed 4:53 to qualify for the USA juniors this summer, and I smashed that mark today. That was really emotional for me, and a really awesome moment. Now, I just want to keep pushing myself.”

One of the more competitive fields was the 100 and 300 hurdles, with Fruitport’s Kallie Fehler, Grand Haven’s Cam Constant and Spring Lake’s Sophia Tardani and Rebekah VanDeWeg headlining.

In the 100 hurdles, Fehler won the event with a time of 15.90, while Constant finished second with a time of 16.33.

In the 300 hurdles, Fehler broke her own school record with a time of 46.40, while Tardani finished second with a time of 46.64 and Constant finished third with a time of 46.65.

“In the 100 hurdles, I didn’t qualify for the state finals at regionals, because I four stepped a few times,” Fehler said. “Today, I was worried about four-stepping again, so instead of pushing myself to PR, I just focused on my steps.

“I three-stepped, today, so I was happy with that. The school record in the 100 is 15.2, my personal best is 15.6, and I got a 15.9 today, which is still a good race. I was really happy with my 300 time. That’s the fourth time I’ve broken the school record in that event, and 46 seconds is a good time for me.”

The loaded field helped push the junior standout to new heights.

“I was really excited to go up against Grand Haven, because we don’t usually get to go up against bigger schools like that,” she admitted. “I was really pushing to beat Sophie, too. Now I feel like I can push for a 45 at the state finals and hopefully reach 45 in the 300 and maybe 14 in the 100 by the time my career is done.”

CROWN DEFENDED

Spring Lake’s Bella LeRoux defended her pole vault crown with a jump of 12 feet to take top honors, while Grand Haven’s Keefe finished second (10-0). LeRoux added a third-place finish in the long jump (15-10.50), as well.

Other notable winners from the event were: Spring Lake’s Kiara Stevenson winning the 100-meter dash (12.65).

Grand Haven’s Jenny Ryan won the 200-meter dash (26.56), while teammate McKenna Keefe finished second (27.15).

Spring Lake’s Julia Bajt finished third in the 400-meter run (1:00.17).

Spring Lake’s 400 relay team of Rebekah VanDeWeg, Stevenson, Carly Komar and LeRoux won their event with a time of 50.84, while Grand Haven’s team of Katelyn Criswell-North, Natalie Koetsier, Olivia Boeve and Sarah Dufon finished third with a time of 52.68.

The Lakers’ 800 relay team of Bajt, LeRoux, Tardani and Stevenson added a win in their event with a time of 1:46.12, while Grand Haven’s team of Ryan, Kassidy Burnside, Constant and McKenna Keefe finished second (1:46.53) and Fruitport’s squad of Katana Daniely, Taylor Burke, Olivia Netzler and Fehler finished third (1:47.54).

Grand Haven’s 1,600 relay team of Hentemann, Constant, Keefe and Ryan (4:01.25) won their event, while Fruitport’s group of Daniely, Burke, Netzler and Fehler finished third (4:09.65).

Grand Haven’s Ella Beringer finished third in the high jump (5-02).

“Other than a few bight performances, last Saturday’s regionals were a disappointing day for us,” said Spring Lake girls track coach Mary-Amy Bajt. “We were hoping to send a lot more kids to state, but unfortunately, it wasn't our day.

“Tonight, our kids came out to run. Our 800-relay team broke the school record for the second time in a row, and our boys 800 relay also broke the school record. Our girls 400-relay team ran their season-best time and is inching closer to that school record, as well.

“Kiara Stevenson ran a PR in the 100 dash and Sophie Tardani keeps getting stronger every time she runs the 300 hurdles. She broke the school record tonight in that event. Rebekah VandeWeg had been struggling with an injury this year, but had a great meet and looks to be on the mend. Today, our kids showed us that not only can they bounce back, but bounce back strong!”

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