Members of the Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Fruitport and Western Michigan Christian boys and girls track teams made themselves right at home on the awards podium at Reeths-Puffer High School, with many of them standing above the rest as meet champions.
More images from Wednesday’s meet
On the boys' side, Grand Haven's Charlie Young won the 400 dash (48.33), finished runner-up in the 200 (22.79), and anchored the 800-relay team with Collin Takas, Ethan Peters and Mason Mahacek that took top honors (1:31.16) and the 1,600 relay team with Takas, Timmy Kleyla and Kyle Eveland that also took gold with a time of 3:26.45.
Junior Mason Mahacek also took gold in the high jump (6-2) and pole vault (13-6) for the Bucs, while sophomores Joe Costello (6 feet) and Drew Dahlman (5-10) finished third and fourth in the high jump, respectively. Freshman Eli Nelson also added a runner-up finish in the pole vault with an attempt of 13 feet.
Fruitport standout Cam Oleen won the 800 (1:57.97), finished third in the 400 (50.27) and anchored the 3,200-meter relay team with Brendan Deneen, Jon Wildey and Cameron Weaver that took top honors with a time of 8:06.9 and the 1,600-relay team with Ethan Flores, Deneen and Weaver (3:27.07) that finished runner-up.
Flores also added an individual win in the 300 hurdles (39.91) and finished third in the 110 hurdles (15.21).
Spring Lake standout Andrew Hylen finished second in the 1,600 (4:26.42) and fourth in the 3,200 (9:40.34).
Western Michigan Christian's Jack Kim retained his crown in the long jump with a leap of 21-11 and also finished fourth in the 110 hurdles (15.44), while teammate
Tyler Somers finished runner-up in the 300 hurdles (41.31).
For Grand Haven senior runner Jack Nicholson, Wednesday's event was his last meet as a Buccaneer after missing the state meet cut by one second. The senior standout and future University of Michigan track and cross country runner made the most of his final opportunity by finishing third in the 3,200 with a new season-best time of 9:34.83 and anchored the 3,200 relay team with Dominic Weatherwax, Eveland and Aidan Martin that finished runner-up with a time of 8:09.62.
"It was great. It felt awesome to run with a pack of guys that I knew were going to push each other and that's exactly how the race went," he said after the 3,200 event. "There was a designated pack that knew what they were going to try and do, and we all ending up dropping a lot of time and it was a really fast race.
"I had a slip up in my regional race, and I kind of blew up during the second-mile stretch and fell apart. It was devastating at the time, but to come out here and exceed my own expectations and run such a clean, fast race was a great way to go out.
"I kept telling myself, ‘This is it, so you might as well drop everything and go. You might as well keep going and push yourself'. That last mile was a sprint and I just had to power through to the finish."
On the girls' side of the meet, Spring Lake sophomore Julia Bajt took gold in the 200 dash (26.51), while Grand Haven's Jenny Ryan finished second (26.57) and Bajt's teammate Caroline Loiseau (26.7) finished third.
Loiseau added a second-place finish in the 100 dash (13.11), while Bajt would add a third-place finish in 400 (1:00.01).
"I wasn't really planning on getting thrown into that event, because I had just finished running in the 400," said Bajt after her 200-meter win. "I kind of just got to the start and wanted to finish out the race the best that I could.
"When the race started, I just started thinking, ‘I'll just pass this girl, no problem.' Then, the next thing I know, I'm on the straightaway and I was right in the mix and I wanted to win. That's a new (personal record) in the 200 for me, and it felt great. I hadn't hit a time near that in awhile, so I just wanted to give it my best effort in my final 200 race of the season.
"It was a really fast heat, and I guess I just got extra competitive for that one. I found a second gear down the stretch. It's always fun to push yourself against people from Grand Haven, Reeths-Puffer and Mona Shores that you don't usually get to race against."
For Grand Haven, Ryan would add a fourth-place finish in the 400 (1:00.94), while Abby Buitenhuis finished third in the 800 run (2:15.47), Giovana Marecek finished second in the 1,600 (5:25.81) and teammate Kirbey Colella (5:31.57) finished fourth.
The Buccaneer relay teams stole the show, the 400 relay team of Kassidy Burnside, Natalie Koetsier, McKenna Keefe and Ryan (51.28), the 800 relay team of Burnside, Keefe, Kate Criswell-North and Ryan (1:46.81) and the 1,600 relay team of Buitenhuis, Keefe, Criswell-North and Avery Keefe (4:11.43) all took home gold medals in their respective events.
Burnside also added big individual wins in the 300 hurdles (46.93) and the long jump (17-2).
"This is a really fun event to keep pushing yourself at," said Burnside after her win in the 300 hurdles. "I just wanted to keep improving on my times and this is a great place to do it. It's a little more laidback than regionals, but there's a lot of talented people you are going up against, too."
The Buccaneer girls also got strong performances from Sarah Knoll (37-11), who finished second in the shot put, Ella Beringer (5-2), who finished second in the high jump, Mckenna Keefe, who finished second in the pole vault (10-6) and Juliette Beals (16.6), who finished third in the 100 hurdles.
For the Fruitport girls, defending meet champion Kallie Fehler took gold in the 100 hurdles (15.92).