Local Sports Journal

WHITEHALL — The Greater Muskegon Athletic Association county track meet – scheduled for Friday at Whitehall’s Viking Stadium – has been one of the area’s premier high school events for decades.

It also serves as a measuring stick of how far prep sports have evolved in Muskegon County over the years.

The first meet, held in 1954, started within days of Roger Bannister’s breaking the 4-minute mile in Europe. At that time the meet involved only four schools – Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Catholic Central and North Muskegon – and only boys teams competed.

By the late 1950s, suburban schools like Reeths-Puffer were added. As the years  went on Mona Shores, Orchard View and Oakridge came aboard, followed by more outlying schools like Whitehall, Montague, Holton and Ravenna.

The late Roger Chiaverini, then the athletic director at Muskegon Catholic Central, pushed hard at a GMAA meeting in the mid-1970s for expansion, and the committee agreed to add girls teams.

Today it’s a major showcase for top Muskegon athletes who hope to win local bragging rights before turning their attention to regional and state goals.

This year’s meet will have entries from Muskegon, Mona Shores, Reeths-Puffer, Orchard View, Oakridge, Muskegon Catholic Central, Western Michigan Christian, Montague, Holton, Ravenna and host Whitehall.

Mona Shores is the defending boys team champion while Reeths-Puffer holds the girls title.

The oldest record at the meet dates back to 1962 when the legendary Muskegon Heights foursome of Joe Parham, Frank Mitchell, Jim Johnson and Sam McMurray combined to win the 880-yard relay. With the metric conversion used today, the foursome’s time converts to 1:28.7.

On the girls’ side, former Mona Shores runner Amy Laswell holds the 800-meter run record on another metric conversion. Laswell’s time from 1977 converts to 2:20.8.

The starting time Friday will be 1 p.m. for some of the field events. The running prelims in the hurdles and 100-meter dash will begin at 3:30 p.m. with the 200-meter dash prelims set for 4:30 p.m.

The two 3,200-meter relays will start at 4 p.m. with the running finals set for 6 p.m. The boys’ races will be first in the running events this year.

Admission is charged for the meet.

Boys’ GMAA Meet records through 2013:

Discus — 190-6, Johnny Mitchell, Muskegon, 1983.

High jump — 6-9, Khi Evans, Muskegon Catholic Central, 1980.

Long jump — 23-2 1/2, Albert McBride, Muskegon, 1979.

Pole vault — 15-4, Zach Burrington, Oakridge, 2004.

Shot put — 56-6 3/4, Mark Debniak, Mona Shores, 1980.

3,200-meter relay — 8:01.1, Mona Shores (Kaijala, Kutches, Vanderberg, Caruthers), 2002.

110-meter high hurdles — 14.1 (semis), Derick Stinson, Muskegon, 1982.

100-meter dash — 10.5, Lemar Courtney, Mona Shores, 1997; and Clinton Allen, Orchard View, 2005.

800-meter relay — 1:28.7yc, Muskegon Heights (Parham, Mitchell, Johnson, McMurray), 1962.

1,600-meter run — 4:18.6yc, Dean Rosenberg, North Muskegon 1965.

400-meter relay — 42.9, Muskegon Catholic Central (McCarthy, Allore, Martin, Foster), 1981.

400-meter dash — 48.2, Trinity Townsend, Muskegon Heights, 1992.

300-meter low hurdles — 36.6yc, Derick Stinson, Muskegon, 1982.

300-meter intermediate hurdles — 38.8, Mark Lewis, Muskegon Catholic Central, 1992.

800-meter run — 1:54.5yc, Mike Danielson, Oakridge, 1982.

200-meter dash — 21.6, Lemar Courtney, Mona Shores, 1998.

3,200-meter run — 9:30.9, Lance Vanderberg, Mona Shores, 2002.

1,600-meter relay — 3:20.9, Muskegon Heights (Lay, Scott, Vance, Hughey), 1979.

Girls GMAA Meet records through 2013

Discus — 134-1, Ashley Swainston, Orchard View, 2001.

High jump — 5-7, Rhonda Filius, Mona Shores, 1979.

Long jump — 18-8 1/4, Shenitha Walker, Muskegon Heights, 1984.

Pole vault — 10-3, Chelsea Wackernagel, Montague, 2007.

Shot put — 40-2, Michelle Johnson, Reeths-Puffer, 2002.

3,200-meter relay — 9:54.7, Whitehall (Delong, Duff, Savoie, Rice), 1998.

100-meter high hurdles — 15.2, Anna Hairston, Muskegon, 1983.

100-meter dash — 11.9yc, Cathy Fitzpatrick, Mona Shores, 1982.

800-meter relay — 1:44.0yc, Muskegon Heights (Evans, Walker, Hardiman, Kelly), 1984.

1,600-meter run — 5:13.4, Alexis Lund, Reeths-Puffer, 1993.

400-meter relay — 49.5, Orchard View (Wells, Anderson, Fox, Gajeski), 1981.

400-meter dash — 55.7yc, Cathy Fitzpatrick, Mona Shores, 1982.

300-meter hurdles — 45.2, Anna Hairston, Muskegon, 1983.

800-meter run — 2:20.8yc, Amy Laswell, Mona Shores, 1977.

200-meter dash — 24.5yc, Cathy Fitzpatrick, Mona Shores, 1982.

3,200-meter run — 11:22.5, Alexis Lund, Reeths-Puffer, 1993.

1,600-meter relay — 4:04.2yc, Mona Shores (P. Laswell, Posvitack, A. Laswell, Herrala), 1978.