Grand Haven’s track teams had nothing to write home about concerning the team standings at the O-K Red Conference Meet at East Kentwood on Saturday, but the Bucs could hang their hat on several strong individual performances.
The Bucs’ boys were sixth and the girls placed fifth, but the two teams had three individual conference champions.
Grand Haven senior Justin Pippel proved he’s one of the best distance runners in the O-K Red, as he captured top honors in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9 minutes, 46 seconds.
Brandt Gruizenga also vaulted his way to a league title, winning the pole vault at 13 feet.
The Bucs’ Collen Casey also shined by placing sixth in the 110 hurdles (16.58) and with a 19-foot long jump. B.J. Nahal was seventh in the long jump with an effort of 19 feet, while Turner Sale took eighth in the 3,200.
Senior Grace Kendra continued her stellar season for Grand Haven’s girls, as she was crowned league champion in the pole vault by clearing 10-6.
“Not to make excuses, but the weather was awful — 45 degrees with intermittent rain, so 10-6 was a good jump for that kind of weather,” said Grand Haven coach John Tarr. “Boys head coach Joe Nelson has done a tremendous job with Grace this year. Coming off of basketball season she was a little behind, but he has gotten her to be very competitive in a very short period of time.”
Kendra couldn’t defend her title in the long jump, however, with East Kentwood’s freshman phenom Sekayi’ Bracey winning in an impressive 17-2 and topping Kendra’s best jump of 16-6.
Sophomore Maddy Draper showed she’s a force to be reckoned with in the future after she placed second in the high jump at 4-11. Freshman Malea Teerman took third in the 800 at 2:23.62, while also freshman, Claire Van Wieren, placed seventh in the 110 hurdles.
Junior Kerri Burnside also had a strong meet for the Bucs, making the finals of the 200 dash and taking ninth overall.
Grand Haven will host the Division 1 regional meet on Friday, May 17.