Spring Lake’s girls track team will be very well-represented at the Division 2 state finals at Forest Hills Eastern High School on June 1 after the Lakers lived up to a season worth of promising potential at Saturday’s regional meet.
As a team, the Lakers placed third overall at the regional held at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids, sparked by four first-place finishes. Hamilton was crowned regional champions with 116.50 points, followed by runner-up Zeeland East with 114.50 and the Lakers’ 109.
Overall, Spring Lake will be sending 10 student-athletes to the state finals in seven different events.
“We are thrilled to have so many girls heading to state,” said head coach Gera Peel. “I’m not aware of Spring Lake ever sending this many girls to the finals.”
The shining star of the regional for the Lakers was sophomore Carlyn Arteaga, who qualified for state in four events, including her new school record and first-place performance in the 800-meter run (2 minutes, 17.50 seconds). She was also a member of the Lakers’ 1,600-meter relay team that took first place, joining Emma Mitchell, Katie Wells and Sydney Chaney.
Arteaga also qualified by placing second in the 400 dash, and was a part of the 3,200 relay that placed third, but advanced to state with a qualifying time of 9:48.55. The relay featured Brittany Beeler, Erin O’Keefe and Ashley Warner.
Spring Lake had a trio of standouts in field events, as both Grace Peterson and Lydia Suchecki advanced to state in the high jump, and Allie LeRoux conquered the field in the pole vault. Peterson and Suchecki each cleared 5 feet, but Peterson took first with fewer attempts. LeRoux vaulted to first with a height of 11-2.
Also advancing to state for Spring Lake was Beeler and O’Keefe in the 3,200 run. Beeler finished second to automatically quality, while O’Keefe got in at third place since she had a state-qualifying time of 11:39.16.
Fruitport’s girls also had a strong showing, including senior Brianna Pekel’s impressive 4-for-4 effort in the 400 dash.
Pekel qualified for the state finals for the fourth time in the event, and also avenged a loss to Arteaga at the Lakes Eight Conference Meet by beating her Spring Lake rival at regionals. Pekel sprinted to a time of 58.45.
Pekel will also compete at state in the 800 relay, joining her sister, Debbie, and sisters Heidi and Hannah Klinger. The foursome finished in first in a time of 1:49.17.
Heidi Klinger also qualified in the 100 dash. She finished third but qualified with a time of 13.28 seconds.
Lakes Eight co-champion Fruitport qualified a pair of individuals for the state meet, with both needing to rely on their qualifying time of distance to earn the trip.
Zach Gilson leapt to a distance of 20-9 in the long jump to earn a berth, while Aaron King’s time of 4:35.50 in the 1,600 run also was good enough. Both were third in their respective events at Saturday’s regional.
Spring Lake’s boys finished a respectable fourth in the overall standings at the regionals, thanks to a stellar meet by senior Austin Elliot.
Elliot took first in the 1,600 at 4:27.97 and was runner-up in the 800 at 1:58.40. He also tasted victory in the 3,200 relay along with Jake Chittenden, Tom Kordupel, and Connor Galligan. They finished in 8:08.83.
At the Division 3 regionals at Saugatuck, Western Michigan Christian advanced four to the state finals, including a pair of regional champions.
In the boys’ competition, Jason Normandin won the long jump in 19-8 ¼, becoming the lone WMC boy to qualify for state.
WMC’s girls team fielded a first-place sprinter in Jasmine Jackson, who captured the 400 in 1:01.16. In field events, Oliva Varnado took second with a heave of 85-2 ¾, and Rachel Bruinsma’s qualified in the high jump at 4-9, which was good for third place at the regional.