By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
WHITEHALL – There was a surprise on the boys side, and a return to norm for the girls at the 60th annual Greater Muskegon Athletic Association city track and field meet, held this year on the track of Whitehall High School.

Muskegon's girls team dominated the sprints at Friday's GMAA city track meet.

Muskegon’s girls team dominated the sprints at Friday’s GMAA city track meet.

The Fruitport Trojans, a decided dark horse pick from the start, took third in Friday’s final event, the 4×400 relay, to finish with 106 total points and clinch by less than two points the 2014 city meet boys title.

Mona Shores took the tough loss with 104.33 points, and host Whitehall finished third with 81 points.
The Reeths-Puffer girls team wiped away memories of last year’s aberrational runner up finish, winning its ninth city title in the last 10 years and doing it in style, winning with 124 points. Muskegon was second with 84 points, and Whitehall was third with 67 points.

“We’ve taken second four times, so it is nice to get that monkey off our back,” said Fruitport boys coach Chad Brandow of the city title win. “I am going to be honest with you, it was a total team effort.”

It certainly was, as the Trojans got strong performances by senior Zach Gilson (second in the 200 and 400 meters, third the 4×400 meter relay, and first in the long jump), sophomore Noah Hendicks (first in the 800 meters, fifth in the 1,600 meters), Alec Stanley (discus), and Aaron King (third in the 800 meters, fourth in the 1,600 meters), as well as the squad’s 4×100 (4th), 4×200 (3rd), 4×800(3rd), and 4×400 (3rd) meter relays. It was that last relay, made up of Gilson, Shawn Knox, Hendricks and Andrew Frost,that sealed the deal.

“I knew it was going to be close,” said Brandow. “We lost to Mona Shores last week by 13 (points). So I tried some things (with the lineup) and it worked.”

Runners ran despite the weather Friday at Whitehall.

Runners ran despite the weather Friday at Whitehall.

Mona Shores senior sprinter Marquon Sargent impressed again, repeating for the second year as the 100-meter winner (11.35), while adding a title as the anchor of the 4×100 meter relay and a second-place finish in the long jump.

Oakridge’s Austin Wright edged Fruitport’s Gilson at the wire to win the 400 meter title, wining by less than three-hundredths of a second.

Whitehall’s Alex Dennis dominated the distance events, narrowly taking the 1,600 and 3,200 meter titles, while Whitehall senior Robert Schneider won the 100 meter high hurdle title.

Orchard View sophomore Matias Keyes won the 300 meter intermediate hurdles, while Shores senior Adreon Billips won the high jump (6-05) and Jacob Walton of North Muskegon was the pole vault title winner (13-00).

The Mona Shores boys took two relays, the 4×100 and 4×400 meters, Muskegon took the 4×200 title, and Whitehall won the distance relay.


Girls Meet

Although Reeths-Puffer returned to the winner’s circle after last year’s second-place finish, the Rockets got the win in a different fashion than in previous seasons.

“This year has been a different year compared to year’s past,” said Reeths-Puffer girls coach Gary Nicklasch. “We’ve normally been pretty strong in the sprints. But this year, being down this year in this area, our distance girls have stepped up to the plate. Things have flipped.”

The Rockets dominated the field, getting first-place finishes from Camaryia Williams in the 300 intermediate hurdles, Chloe Fox (high jump), Kendra Irvine (pole vault), and the 4×800 relay. More importantly, several Rockets finished in the Top 3, including Lexi Fortenbery (3rd in the 400 meters), Makenzie Richardson (2nd in the 800 meters, 2nd in the 3,200 meters, 3rd in the 1,600), and Maryssa Depies (2nd in the 1,600 meters).

The Rocket relay teams took second in the 4×200 meters and third in the 4×400 meters.

The Muskegon sprinters dominated, taking first and second in the 100 meters (Kynihay Brown and Shawteanna Dame, respectively) and 200 meters(Mikayla Thomas and Brown, respectively), and the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 meter relays.

Whitehall’s Jessica Hall took the 1,600 and 3,200 meter titles for the second-straight year.

Orchard View got first-place finishes from Brittany Parker (400 meters) and Laurel Luhring (discus). Montague got titles from Liz Moak (100 meter high hurdles) and Abby Christmas (long jump).

Other winners included Muskegon Catholic’s Tootie Thompson, who set a school record in the shot put, and Mona Shores freshman Sarah Resterhouse, who won the 800 meters.

Mona Shores sprinter Marquon Sargent took the 100 and 200 meter titles Friday at the annual GMAA city track meet.

Mona Shores sprinter Marquon Sargent took the 100 and 200 meter titles Friday at the annual GMAA city track meet.

The weather at Friday’s was typical of the 2014 spring season: Wet and cold. Both winning coaches talked about how the weather has affected their runners, jumpers, and throwers.

“It was a challenge getting them ready,” said Brandow. “We’ve had a lot of stuff cancelled; we were indoors for the first four weeks. It is a test of character, and these kids are phenomenal.”

Nicklasch said the poor weather has affected his sprinters more than anyone else.

“Our distance runners have been going hard since January,” said Nicklasch. “So the weather really hasn’t hampered them all that much. I would say it was more our relay teams, sprinters, and some of our field events where it has really been a struggle.”