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Michigan State Finals Preview

May 31, 2007 MI

by Jeff Hollobaugh & David Mitchell

Humid weather with temperatures in the 80s is expected to greet the state's best athletes as they converge upon the Grand Rapids area on Saturday, June 2, for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Finals. With forecasters also predicting a 50% chance of some thunderstorm activity, it's quite possible that the weather could have a significant effect on the proceedings. Meets will be held at East Kentwood (Division 1), Zeeland (D2), Comstock Park (D3) and Forest Hills Eastern (D4).

MHSAA meet schedules and information

Girls: Mahan, Treece and throwers expected to shine
by Jeff Hollobaugh

  • Mumford senior Shayla Mahan is hoping to break her sprint records at the D1 meet. Last year she clocked 11.54 and 23.74, both state records at the time. She also led off the winning 4 x 200. In her limited appearances this season, she seems to be in the same shape or better. Pressing her may be Elise Glass of Edsel Ford, who recently ran an 11.6/24.1 double.
  • Mahan and her Mumford squad will need to be extra sharp to have any hopes of upsetting defending champion Ann Arbor Pioneer. Bryan Westfield's squad is loaded with sprinters and hurdlers, and he has a dabbling of possible distance and field event points. Pioneer's relays have gone 47.8, 1:41.2, 3:52.1 and 9:24.8.
  • Expect big things from Pioneer's hurdlers. Chidimma Uche is the defending 300H champ, and ran a 42.1 at regionals that surely would have been a state record had meet officials used automatic timing. She has clocked 13.9 in the 100s, the same time as teammate Ra'Jae Marable. Altogether there will be three Pioneers in the 100H and six in the 300H.
  • Amy Morrison of Fenton has cleared 12-00 in the vault and could win D1. Becca Pilkerton of Dexter, also at 12-00, would be considered a stronger favorite in the D2 meet.
  • National Scholastic Indoor 5000 champion Marissa Treece will be going for a distance triple in the D4 meet. The Maple City-Glen Lake senior has clocked outdoor bests of 2:17.1, 4:49.3 and 10:41.0 so far. She has indicated she is training to race well in the heat at the Nike Outdoor Championships.
  • In D2, Battle Creek Lakeview senior Erica Mann could go out with a bang. She is qualified in the 100, 200, and 400, and recently impressed with a 11.9/24.2 double.
  • Katie Guikema of Grand Rapids South Christian is strongly favored in the D2 long jump. She leads the list at 19-02.5, and has a 19-5.5 that might have been a state record had officials used a wind gauge.
  • Perhaps the most anxiously awaited events will be the D2 throws. Mary Angell of Byron Center has already broken the state record in the shot at 49-06, and is inches away from it with her 165-07 discus toss. She will have her hands full with the only person to beat her this year, Allison Liske of Zeeland West. Liske has hit 47-08 and 154-03.

Boys: Pioneer Could Dominate
By David Mitchell
  • The 2007 Division 1 State Meet promises to be better and deeper than the ’06 version based on the qualifying performances. The relays are a prime example. In the 4x100 there are three teams as fast or faster than last year’s number one seed plus a whopping 10 faster than last year’s second seed. Host school East Kentwood, Romulus and Ann Arbor Pioneer sit atop that event with 42.5 or better from their regional. Those same three teams are the leaders in the 4x200 where all of this year’s top 6 seeds are faster than the top seed from ’06. Those six range from 1:27.8 to 1:29.0. The 4x400 qualifiers, again led by Pioneer at 3:19.4 and East Kentwood at 3:22.5, have 9 faster than last year’s second seed. The 4x800 may be the hottest relay of all with Pioneer on top at 7:53.4 followed by 6 total under 7:58.4 all faster than last year’s top seed. They’re joined by 2 more faster than the second seed in ’06.
  • It’s impossible not to mention Ann Arbor Pioneer as a favorite to win the meet just by looking at the relays. They have a great deal more going their way and are the prohibitive favorite to bring home the title for Coach Don Sleeman. They were among the favorites last year, but were disappointed to finish 4th overall. A local news article quoted a few of the Pioneer athletes as saying that they learned from bad decisions made on the eve of last year’s state meet and are ready to perform to potential this time around.
  • In addition to the relays, Pioneer is led by their triumvirate of junior individual qualifiers. James Smith is the top seed in the 200m at 21.7. Dennis Fortson’s 37.9 is by far the fastest qualifier in the 300m Hurdles and he’s the 8th seed in the highs. James Wade is the 4th seed in the 400.
  • Defending D1 champs, Saline, have done battle with Pioneer all year long in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Saline won the league title and finished only half a point behind their neighbors at the regional. They lost 20 returning points in the form of double throws champ, Vince Helmuth, to an early graduation and enrollment at the University of Michigan for football, but cannot be counted out entirely. Host school East Kentwood has its strongest team in years and should contend for a trophy. Two time cross country champs Pinckney hope their balance and depth will translate to significant scoring as well. Pinckney dominated their regional and have qualifiers in 13 different events.
  • Romulus has the star power of All-American Shane Wells in the 110mHH (13.6). Wells has extra motivation after a disqualification in the 300m hurdles at the regional. He’s joined by Darryl White, the second seed in the 100 to power their relays and to bolster their championship dreams.
  • James Jackson, the sophomore speedster from Grand Ledge, will be a factor. Jackson is the state indoor record holder at 50m and is #2 all-time in the 60. Altogether he holds 6 state indoor class records for freshmen or sophomores from 50m to 400m. He is the top seed in the 100 at 10.6 and the second seed in the 200.
  • It would be irresponsible and foolhardy to count out Coach Robert Lynch and Detroit Mumford who captured championships in the 4x8, 4x4 and in the 400 last year with Cedric Everson and his Midas touch returning in all three. Everson also won gold medals in those three events at the MITS indoor championship in March of this year and is finishing off a dominant career for the Mustangs.
  • Everson however comes in as only the #8 seed in an unusually deep 400m field. Kyle Wilson of East Detroit, Kevin Jackson of East Kentwood, and Varrick Tucker of Belleville all have the top time coming in at 48.3---a time that Everson has more than matched with his state leading 48.33 win at the Shumake Relays.
  • Cole Sanseverino of Monroe is the defending 1600 champ. He comes into the ’07 meet as the top seed in the 1600 (4:17.1) and the 800 (1:55.3). Teammate Justin Heck is the #6 seed in the 3200 and joins Sanseverino on the 4th seeded 4x800. If they have a big day, Monroe could contend for a team trophy as well.
  • State leader Jason Turnbull of Northville (1:54.1 in a dual meet) comes in as the 4th seed in both the 800 and 1600. Isaiah Ward of Mumford and Alex Folk of Bedford are also capable of wins in those events.
  • Howell’s Steven Marcinkowski (9:30.0) is the top seed in the always volatile 3200. Marcinkowski won his regional leading a total of 10 qualifiers in that race including 5 from Pinckney.
  • Matt Armstrong of Lansing Sexton is the top qualifier in the shot at 59-06.75 with Michael Martin of Detroit Catholic Central at 58-07.75 breathing down his neck. Andrew Evans the sophomore spinner from Portage Northern leads the disc qualifiers at 174-00 with Flint Carman Ainsworth senior Kevin Mays nearby at 172-01.
  • Defending champ and meet record holder with his 16-00 in ’06, Logan Lynch of Temperance Bedford is hoping to win it all again in the Pole Vault.

  • Division 2 Boys: A potentially low scoring but wild team battle should play out in D2 with 4 time cross country team champ Dexter’s distance dynasty being one of the key players. Dexter has 5 of the top 9 seeds in the 3200 after a 1-5 sweep at their regional. Top seed Dan Jackson leads the state with his 8:59.91 earlier in the season. Jackson is also the #2 seed in the 1600. Addis Habtewold of St. Clair and James Lanciaux of Fremont may be the only racers not from Dexter to be able to challenge Jackson in the 3200. Top 1600m seed Joe Dimambro of Fenton ran 4:17.42 at Mansfield (OH) Relays and is a formidable opponent in that event. Fenton holds the top seed in the 4x800 Relay at 7:59.9.
  • Individually, Josh Hembrough, the national record setting indoor hurdler from Forest Hills Northern, is the top story in D2. Hembrough set the D2 record with 13.82 in the 110m HH last year and is running comparably right now (13.6 regional win) in spite of a lingering hamstring problem. Hembrough is also the top seed in the 300m Hurdles with 38.3.
  • Jon Donkersloot of Zeeland East finished 3rd in the HJ in ’06 but leads the state this year with a 6-10.25 clearance. He also won the hotly contested MITS Championship indoors. Kurt Poehlman of Niles has soared over 6-09.25 and will keep Donkersloot honest in this one.
  • Tim Lelito of St. Clair leads the discus at 173-00 and was runner up last year. ’06 champ Lonnie Pugh is the state leader with a PR of 187-00. Lelito has the second best throw in the state so far at 184-11. This will be a hot one!
  • Another state leader, Joe Wesley of Marine City, vaulted 16-03 and is a likely candidate to win big.

  • Division 3: Defending champs Williamston has set itself up in a position to win it again with qualifiers in 12 events including top seed Donny Stifler (164-00) in the discus who is also 2nd seed in the shot, ’06 800m winner David Ash (1:53.98), and the 4x100 relay led by senior 100m #3 seed Aaron Seminski.
  • Detroit Country Day may be the team best poised to keep Williamston from defending its title. Senior Chris Rucker is the top seed in the 400 (50.1) and returns to defend his 100 m title from ’06. Country Day will be in the fast heat of the4x1, 4x2 and 4x4 with qualifiers in 10 total events giving them the potential for big points.
  • Nate English of Hillsdale is the only Michigander to put the shot over 60-00 so far this year. He’s the top seed in that event and could score in the discus as well.
  • In the 1600, Daniel Nix of Williamston is the defending champ and is seeded third. Ahead of him are last year’s 3200 champ Maverick Darling of Ovid-Elsie the top seed at 4:18.93 and Josh McAlary of Jackson Lumen Christi, the MVP of the Selby Honor Roll meet in Jackson based on his 4:18/9:53 double earlier this week. Nix has a season PR of 4:19.4 and won his honor roll meet in 4:19.9. Darling’s regional time is his 1600 season PR, but he set a new mark for himself this week with a 9:15.15 jaunt in the same honor roll meet as Nix.

  • Division 4: 2006 runners-up Ottawa Lake-Whiteford won the tough Grass Lake regional. They are led by shot putter George Flanner whose 59-08 heave leads the field by over eight feet! Flanner is also the #2 seed in the discus. As if that wasn’t enough for this multi-talented athlete, Flanner is also the #2 seed in the 110mHH at 15.1. The Ottawa Lake-Whiteford 4x100 is also the top seed at 44.1 and it wouldn’t be surprising if Flanner is likely a key leg on that as well! If he is, George Flanner has a realistic shot (pun attempted!) to bring home 4 gold medals in leading his team to the D4 title.