By Calli Townsend
Forty-nine athletes will represent the Blue Water Area at the Division II Lower Peninsula Track & Field State Championship after qualifying at the regional meet on Friday, May 21 at Marysville High School.
The top two finishers and any additional athletes with a qualifying mark at Friday’s regional meet advance to the state meet on Saturday, June 5, in Zeeland, Michigan.
Frankenmuth captured the team title for both boys and girls, with 164 and 104 points, respectively. The St. Clair boys were the runners up with 76 points, and Yale finished third with 69 points. Marysville came in a close second for the girls with 99 points, and North Branch took third with 56 points.
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For the boys, two of the area’s most established distance squads qualified their 4x800m relay teams for the state meet. Yale’s team of sophomores Lukas Kriesch and Luke Kecskes and seniors Matthew McClelland and Nolan Kudera finished first in 8:13.23. St. Clair’s team of sophomore David Harris and seniors Lucas Danko, Andrew Parr, and Jack Pennewell came in second in 8:16.17.
Kudera ran a suspenseful 400m dash, trailing in second for much of the race. He took over first with a strong kick in the last 50 meters to win in 51.99 seconds.
His teammate McClelland followed suit in an 800m run that proved even more interesting. McClelland ran in third until he caught up with the leaders in the last 50 meters. It was a three-way tie coming around the curve, and McClelland pulled away up the straightaway to capture first in 1:55.20. Pennewell finished second in 1:55.86 and senior Evan Woodard of Marysville captured third in a qualifying time of 1:57.10.
Pennewell also battled with senior Conner Uppleger of Marine City in the 1600m run. Pennewell finished first in 1600 in 4:20.12 and Uppleger was second in 4:28.92.
The 3200m, however, was Uppleger’s turn to take the win as the senior from Marine City won by a margin ahead of Kriesch. Uppleger finished in 9:50.35 and Kriesch trailed just behind in a personal-best time of 9:50.80.
Imlay City’s 4x100m relay of junior Lance Wolford and seniors Zach Dingwell, Raymond Liu, and Dakota Sandzik finished second in 44.76 seconds. Originally ranked third, Dingwell also qualified individually in the 100m dash, winning the event in 11.45 seconds.
While Frankenmuth won the 4x400m relay, two additional teams from the Blue Water Area will advance to the state meet as Yale and Armada finished second and third, respectively, in qualifying times. Yale’s team of McClelland, Kudera, senior Deven Kostiuk, and sophomore Michael Ferguson ran a seaon-best 3:29.83, improving by more than three seconds.
Armada’s team of seniors Alec Albrecht and Connor Mackenzie and sophomores Kyle Coenen and Andrew Sniesak saw even great improvement. They finished in 3:30.70, beating their season best of 3:37.18 to earn a trip to Zeeland.
In the field, St. Clair senior Aaron Balok won pole vault, clearing 11’10.01. Keckes from Yale came in second with a height of 11’10.00. D’Marco Singleton, a senior from Marysville, won long jump with a leap of 19’10.5. Taking second, Jacob Hincherick, a junior from Marine City, jumped 19’7.75.
Zachary Sergent, the senior from Cros-Lex, made the most of his last season as he won shot put with a throw of 47’1. He also finished second in discus with a nine-foot personal best mark to capture second. Singleton, who also won long jump, won the event as well with a throw of 149’9. Sergent threw for 148’9.
On the girls side, Imlay City’s 4x800m relay team of senior Jessica Denver and juniors Mary Lengemann, Ana Lengemann, and Elizabeth Silman put together a season-best performance to take first. The girls won the race in 10:04.41, improving by 14 seconds.
Mary Lengemann also qualified in high jump, winning the event with a mark of 5’0, which is another seasonal best. Junior Gracie Fogarty cleared a season-best height of 4’10 as well, capturing second and punching her ticket to the state meet.
In the 1600m run, St. Clair sophomore Ava Pergitone finished second overall with a personal best time of 4:21.99. Trailing in third for most of the race, she finished strong to take over second and secure her spot at the state championship.
Marysville’s Reese Powers, a junior, made her mark on her home track with dominant performances in the 400m dash and the 800m run. She won the 400m by more than a second with a time of 59.28 seconds. She bounced back in the 800m to win in 2:18.03.
Denver from Imlay City and junior Hannah Fisher from Marysville both qualified for state in the 800m run as well. The pair finished with seasonal-best times of 2:20.19 and 2:22.93, respectively.
Fisher and Powers also competed in Marysville’s first-place 4x200m relay along with juniors Ashley Utter and Lauren Wilson . The team finished with a season-best time of 1:49.81, just ahead of second-place North Branch in 1:50.09, a team of freshman Grace Clemens, senior Erin Wadley, and sophomores Lilly Muxlow and Jasmine Mauk
Almont sophomore Devin Johnston finished second in the 200m dash, sprinting to the line in 26.73 seconds.
Finishing the night on the track, the 4x400m relay brought the crowd to its feet. Clio led the race until the third lap as Marysville and North Branch caught the leader. North Branch took a brief lead just before the final exchange, and then Powers sprinted into the top spot. Marysville’s team of Wilson, Fisher, Allysse Berger, and Powers finished first in 4:10.80. North Branch captured second in 4:14.53, with a team of juniors Haileigh Bissett and Alyssa Bussure, Wadley, and Clemens.
In the field, senior Alexa Messina of Yale won pole vault, clearing 10’3 to qualify for state one last time. In long jump, sophomore Lindsay Girard of Marine City earned a new personal best to take first, leaping 16’2.
Marysville’s freshman Janae Hudson took second in shot put with a throw of 36’1, and Cros-Lex senior Kyler Kolakovich finished second in discus with a throw of 109’4.
Just a couple of meets remain before the State Championship in just two weeks, including the Blue Water Area Meet of Champions, hosted by Marysville High School, on Friday, May 28.