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Grand Haven track and field runs well at home regional

Duncan MacLean • Yesterday at 12:15 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Track and field athletes from all over West Michigan descended on Grand Haven High School early Friday morning to try their hands, and feet, at qualifying for the Division 1 state championship meet.

The Bucs faired well, taking home six regional titles and qualifying 16 for the big dance at East Kentwood High School on June 1.

Senior standout and Oklahoma State commit Gabby Hentemann highlighted the day with a pair of regional titles, including a school-record setting 800-meter run, clocking in at 2 minutes, 10.92 seconds. She also took home the 1,600 title in 4:53.48.

“It felt really good,” she said of the record run. “I didn’t know my pace really until I came through on the first lap and saw I was at 61 or 62 (seconds). I decided with about 300 to go I just wanted to see how fast I could go. Coming down the home stretch, I heard everyone screaming, so I knew I had to go all the way if I wanted to get it.”

The girls team put together a perfect run through the meet, qualifying 11 athletes for the state finals.

Abby Buitenhuis followed Hentemann in the 800, taking fourth in a state-qualifying time of 2:22.29. Cam Constant cracked the state meet in the 300 hurdles, taking fourth in 46.97 as well as the 100 hurdles, taking ninth in 16.08. Juliette Beals followed in the 100 hurdles, qualifying with a time of 16.42 to take 13th place.

Sarah Knoll led the girls’ effort in the field, taking top honors in the shot put with a throw of 41-0 and fourth in the discus with a toss of 118-01. Ella Beringer punched her ticket to the state meet with a sixth-place finish in the high jump, clearing 5-2, while Avery Keefe tied the state qualification standard with her 10th-place jump of 4-10.

The Grand Haven girls 3,200-meter relay team rounded out the qualifiers with a second-place finish in 10 minutes, 10.73 seconds.

“We ran a great day today,” said girls head coach John Tarr. “Coming into this meet, probably the hardest region in the state, and qualifying 11 is great. I would like to say it is above expectations, but it is right on where we wanted to be, because we have high expectations.

“Gabby with the school record was obviously the highlight. That is such a huge thing for her to get out of the way so she can focus on racing at the state meet. The 1,600 relay was fantastic. Avery Keefe made that race. Some of the girls were kind of tired and Avery is young, so I wasn’t sure how she would respond. She made a great move at about 220 meters to pass a Hudsonville girl and never looked back.”

The Buccaneer boys excelled in the field, where they qualified all but one of their state-bound athletes and earned both their individual titles for the day.

Senior Mason Mahacek did the honors, topping the high jump with a leap of 6-3 and the pole vault clearing 14-06.

Eli Nelson followed in the pole vault with a state-qualifying jump of 14-0, taking third place overall. Joe Costello joined the state team with a sixth-place finish in the high jump at 6-1.

Drew Dahlman rounded out the boys’ field qualifiers with a pair of qualifying performances at 6-1 in the high jump and 21-6.5 in the long jump.

The Bucs had a tougher time gaining ground on the track, racing against one of the fastest regional collections in the state.

Dominic Weatherwax led the way with a regional title in the 800, clocking in at 1:58.38.

Joe Costello managed to qualify in the 300 hurdles with a fifth-place finish at 41.47, while Andrew Ireland made it in with his fifth-place finish in the 3,200 at 9:58.29. Seth Taylor squeaked by the 400 qualification standard of 52.40 with his eighth-place time of 52.34, to round out the state team.

“It was a good day,” said boys head coach Joe Nelson. “We’re very excited about the kids that qualified, they did a great job. We were hoping to get a few more and are disappointed with that. But, you have to take the good with the bad and you have to do it today. I’m proud of the way we performed.

“We put a lot of time and effort into the field events and have kids that can perform out there. Our distance runners work really hard, our sprinters do a great job and our hurdlers are always getting better and better, but state-championship level, especially in this region, is tough.

“Favorite race of the day was Dom in the 800. He just really wanted to qualify and gritted it out. That was great to see.”

Both teams will return to action at the West Michigan All-Star meet Wednesday before the state finals on June 1.

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