By Butch Harmon
Special to Second Half
COMSTOCK PARK – After coming up short in its bid to repeat as MHSAA champions at last year’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Girls Track and Field Finals, Frankenmuth was determined to not be denied this time.
With a squad that featured six top seeds and balance on the track and in the field events, the Eagles this time captured the title in impressive fashion as they outlasted last year’s champions, Pewamo-Westphalia.
The MHSAA title was the second in three years for Frankenmuth and fourth in the last six years for a program that is setting the standard for girls track and field in Division 3.
Sprinter Angie Ritter was one of the leaders. The senior, who was part of the title-winning team as a sophomore, was not about to let her career end without hoisting another championship trophy.
“I was real happy with what our team did,” Ritter said. “As a team we all performed up to par. Last year we had a few fallouts, but this year everyone did what was expected. We all came into the season with positive attitudes, and we talked about winning state this year.”
The day went according to form for the Eagles, who knew before the meet was over that they had won.
“By the time we got to the four by four (1,600 relay) we knew we had it,” Ritter said. “We were up by 26 points with one event to go, and we knew we got it.”
She did her part to help. Ritter, who will be running for Grand Valley State University next season, won both the 100 and the 200-meter dashes and was a member of the 800 relay team that also finished first.
“I was just hoping to get first in both the 100 and the 200,” Ritter said. “Winning a state championship says it all. I was pretty happy to win it all.”
Ritter also removed her sister’s name from the school record book in the process as her time in the 100-meter dash was three-tenths of a second faster than her sister Kelsey Ritter’s previous Frankenmuth best.
Angie Ritter was not the only Eagles standout to win a pair of individual titles. Junior Sydney Bronner captured the 100 hurdles and high jump, and like Ritter was also a member of the 800 relay champ.
Bronner placed in high jump last year but was determined to take the title and also set a new personal best of 5-6, something she accomplished in the final. That personal best also tied the LP Division 3 meet record.
“I took third last year,” Bronner said. “I wanted to take first this year. I tried seven or eight times at 5-6, and this time I finally did it. I was more confident this year and I also have improved my form.”
Second-place Pewamo-Westphalia didn’t let this year’s title go without a fight. The 400 relay team of seniors Jenna Thelen, Sasha Platte, Kenzie Wieber and junior Gabbie Hummel took first, and in the process set a new school record. For Thelen, Platte and Wieber, it was their final time competing together.
“It really helps having three seniors on the team,” Thelen said. “This was the last race for the three of us, and we wanted to go out with a win.”
“It was a blessing in itself,” Platte added. “We did great today. We did a lot of work for this, and our coaches helped lead us to this.”
Elkton-Pigeon-BayPort senior Kayla Deering wrapped up her high school career in a big way. A two-time MHSAA champion in the shot put, Deering closed with a third straight title with a put of 44-11. Deering, who will compete at the University of Michigan next season, also placed sixth in the discus.
“I was satisfied,” Deering said. “I really wanted the state record, but I was satisfied to win a third state title. I just tried to stay focused. I’m content, but it would have been nice to set a new personal best here.”
Manistee’s Annie Fuller battled through the heat of the afternoon to capture a pair of titles for a second consecutive year. A junior, Fuller won the 800 as a freshman. Last season she won the 800 for a second straight year and also added the 1,600 title. Saturday she again took titles in the 800 and 1,600.
“The heat didn’t help much,” Fuller said. “There was also definitely more pressure this year trying to repeat. The competition is real strong and you don’t want to lose.”
Fuller set personal records in both races and also helped Manistee finish third overall in the 1,600 relay, running the anchor leg.
Napoleon junior Kaniya Weatherspoon had only one jump in the long jump competition but she made it count. Weatherspoon jumped 17-4½ on her first attempt, and that leap was good for first place. She was scratched on her next two jumps as she suffered tightness in her quad muscle and wanted to save herself so she could contribute to the team score in other events. Weatherspoon went on to finish fifth in the 200 and helped Napoleon’s 400 and 800 relay teams finish among the top five. Those efforts enabled Napoleon to finish in fourth place overall.
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PHOTO: Frankenmuth's Cadi Palmreuter (second from left) takes the baton from teammate Rebekah Barger during the 400 relay Saturday. The Eagles finished second in this race but won the meet. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)