Carlyn Arteaga had been boxed in before on the biggest stage — she wasn’t going to let it happen again.
The Spring Lake junior got off to a fast start and never looked back, winning the state championship in the 800-meter run at Saturday’s Division 2 state track meet at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids.
Arteaga’s finish, coupled with sisters Allie and Bella LeRoux going 1-2 in the pole vault, helped Spring Lake claim third place at the meet.
Spring Lake’s 28 points were tied with DeWitt, and put the squad behind Lansing Waverly (31) and state champion Chippewa Hills (34).
Arteaga, who finished sixth in the 800 last season, led the entire way Saturday, finishing a second ahead of the nearest competitor with a time of 2 minutes, 16.09 seconds. It’s a rarity for the same competitor to lead coast-to-coast in the 800, but after a slow start hurt her a year ago, she changed her strategy for Saturday’s race.
“I ran a really aggressive first lap,” Arteaga said. “From there it just got down to the last lap. I remember thinking, ‘They always say, whoever ends up leading the 800 never wins. I remember having the thought, ‘Huh, I hope that doesn’t happen.’ It was really surreal.
“At a big meet like that, — at Grand Valley State or even MITCA — you’re surrounded by people at the race. Yesterday I kind of felt alone.”
Arteaga may have been alone in her race, but she was surrounded by teammates at Saturday’s finals.
Erin O’Keefe came in 25th in the 3,200 meter run (12:56.95).
In the field events, the LeRoux sisters put on a show for the fans in the pole vault, while Grace Peterson and Lydia Suchecki both reaching a height of 5 feet in the high jump.
Arteaga also qualified for the finals in the 400, but decided to scratch before the event, electing to focus on the 800.
“I think that actually might be a really large part of why I was able to win,” Arteaga said. “A lot of the other girls had run other races. A lot had run the mile.
“It was really hot out. … I cut out a lot of time in the sun at 80 degrees. With the 400 there’s only one event in between. The 400 takes a lot out of me usually. I decided I wanted to go all or nothing in the 800.”
GILSON LEADS CHARGE FOR FRUITPORT BOYS
Zack Gilson displayed his versatility all season for the Trojans, and Saturday was no different.
The senior was involved in two eighth-place finishes at the Division 2 state meet at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids.
Gilson leapt 21-2 ½ in the long jump, and joined teammates Andrew Frost, Ben Kamer and Shawn Knox for a time of 1:30.84 in the 800-meter relay.