By Paul Costanzo
Special for Second Half
EAST KENTWOOD – Dave Emeott is making some changes to his East Kentwood boys track & field team this summer.
After the Falcons’ field events put on a dominant display Saturday to lead the team to a second straight Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship, Emeott feels it’s time for a new name.
“Officially now, for at least one year, we’re going to be East Kentwood Field & Track from now on,” Emeott said. “Everything changes, the Twitter page, the Facebook page, T-shirts will be made. The field events guys took a lot of pride, and it was fun because those were the first events of the morning. We came out of the morning with 40 points, or whatever they ended up scoring.”
East Kentwood finished with 61 points, well ahead of second-place Ann Arbor Pioneer, which had 39. Saline and Grand Blanc tied for third with 37 points, while Rockford was fifth with 35.
Logan Brown (shot put), Trevor Stephenson (pole vault) and Job Mayhue (110-meter hurdles) won individual titles for the Falcons, who have won seven of the last 10 team championships in the division. By the time Mayhue won the hurdles, the third running final of the day, his team already had 46 points, which would prove enough to clinch the title.
“When you look at where we won, it wasn’t just that we were overwhelmingly more talented than everybody; where the points were scored was in the technical events – shot put, long jump, pole vault – those three events alone we scored with seven guys in those events,” Emeott said. “Then the hurdles and the relays, that was really our day. It’s cool to do it in a different way.”
Stephenson’s pole vault title came after a head-to-head battle with Saline’s Eric Harris that featured multiple MHSAA Finals records. Stephenson won with a height of 16 feet, 9½ inches, a new all-division meet record. Harris took second at 16-6½, which also broke the previous record.
“I was surprised that I cleared that,” Stephenson said. “I was coming in thinking 16 feet might be the winning height, then Eric Harris from Saline just kept pushing the bar up and I just kept going with him. Eventually it got to 16-9½, and I just didn’t feel like it was there, and I got over and it was an amazing feeling.”
Mayhue won the hurdles with a time of 13.99 seconds, while Brown won the shot put with a throw of 57-1½.
Rockford’s Cole Johnson pulled off an impressive double in the 800 and 1,600, winning both with strong finishes. In the 800, he ran past a tight pack in the final 50 meters to win in 1:53.11, edging out Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Netunji Paige who finished in 1:53.41.
In the 1,600, Johnson took an early lead, then had to surge over the final lap to overtake a strong field and win in 4:08.47, less than two tenths of a second ahead of Pioneer’s Nick Foster who was second in 4:08.64.
“My race plan in the beginning (of the 1,600) was to try and push the pace to try and beat our school record held by Dathan Ritzenhein, a 4:05.9,” Johnson said. “The first lap, I knew I was going to go out fast, and I just tried to keep pushing it the second and third lap, but I fell off a little bit. Then the race plan was just kind of holding form a little bit that last lap to try and get the win. I found a lot of energy from all the people supporting me and all the fans; it is packed here today. Winning the mile in Michigan is very prestigious, so that’s kind of what kept me going as I got passed on that last lap.”
Oak Park’s Donnie James pulled off a double of his own, and was four hundredths of a second away from pulling off a triple. James ran 47.14 to hold off a strong field in the 400 meters, and 21.2 to squeak out a win in the 200. He finished second in the 100 with a time of 10.7, just edged by Eric Labonte of Traverse City West, who won in 10.66 seconds.
In the 400, James won from an outside lane, holding off charges from Saginaw Heritage’s Marcus Montgomery (47.65) and Ypsilanti Lincoln’s Matthew Moorer (47.79), who were chasing him from the inside.
“I had that mentality that I know I had to run at full speed because I had Matthew Moorer and Montgomery (behind me),” James said. “It was a lot of competition during that time, so I had to get my head geeked because I knew I had to run this to get first place for our team. My coach said catch the dude off the turn and to just run it like you did indoors.”
Lansing Waverly’s Keshaun Harris won the 300 hurdles in 37.81 seconds. Pioneer’s Foster won the 3,200 in 9:07.93. Grand Blanc’s Aidan Martini won the discus with a throw of 167-2. Traverse City Central’s Cassidy Henshaw won the high jump with a height of 6-9. West Bloomfield’s AJ Abbott won the long jump with a distance of 23-7¼.
Ann Arbor Pioneer (Foster, Paige, Aldo Pando-Girard and John Florence) won the 3,200 relay in 7:45.64. Detroit Martin Luther King (Jaeveyon Morton, Dylan Brown, Dequan Finn and Jalen McGaughy) won the 800 relay in 1:26.74. Farmington Hills Harrison (Moet Andrews, Alfred Hollie, Joe Stevens and Ben Williams) won the 400 relay out of the second heat with a time of 42.39. Grand Blanc (Austin Rippee, Victor Zarour, Jo Coleman and Jeronn Body) won the 1,600 relay in 3:20.48.
Click for full results.
PHOTOS: (Top) East Kentwood’s Job Mayhue, middle, hurdles to the lead on the way to winning the 110 race. (Middle) Oak Park’s Donnie James, right, holds off Ypsilanti Lincoln’s Matthew Moorer in the 200. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)