NORTON SHORES–Last week started with a postponement of WMC’s final conference dual meet with Manistee, that will now take place on Tuesday, May 10th at Orchard View.

Friday, May 6th brought WMC to the GMAA (or Muskegon County) Championships held at Oakridge High School.

The boys finished 11th of 13 teams with 6 points. The meet was won by Whitehall with 155 points.

Coach Greg Gould said, “Points were a little hard to come by for the boys today, we certainly probably missed some opportunities with some athletes being in AP testing on Friday. “

Starting in the field events Joel McKay (Sr.) scored the 6 points for WMC after a mid-week switch of vaulting poles resulted in a new personal best of 11’6″, and a third place finish; this put Joel in a tie for the 4th spot on the WMC all-time list in this event. This was a great result due to vaulting directly into a strong headwind. 

In shot put and discus, Andrew Brink (So.) and Travis Snyder (Sr.) threw personal best in but implements. 31’5″ and 22’5″, respectively in the shot put and 95’11” and 55’7″, respectively in the discus.

The sprint group is starting to see the weather needed run fast, Friday was a positive step for many with Joe Waller (Sr.) running a season best in the 100 (11.94) and Jalen Melvile (Sr.) running a personal best in the 200 (24.91).

Andrew Brink had a season best in the 400 (59.22).

WMC had  a pair of personal bests on the distance side as well with Hayden Carlson (So.) in the 600 (2:29.76) and Alexander Lawrence (Fr.) in the 3200 (11:43.26).

In the relays the 4 x 800 of Andrew Brink, Alexander Lawrence, Elijah Zenz (So.) and Graeson Lawrence (So.) improved to 9:51.16 and even after a personnel change due to injury the 4 x 100 of Jaron Childers (Sr.), Joe Waller, Owen Varnado (Sr.) and Jalen Melvile improved to 45.96; the boys will look to regroup and prepare for the conference final at home on Friday, May 13.

In girls action WMC placed 4th  of 13 teams with 62.5 points. The meet was won by Montague with 117 points.

The girls were certainly enjoying the 3rd place finish at last week’s Kent City Elite and using that energy to come out and surprise some teams on Friday, according to coach Greg Gould.

In the field events they certainly performed very well as conditions early in the meet were not ideal with the winds.

The Wiersema twins Kyla and Maddie (Sr.) continue to impress in their first season of track and field under the direction of throws coaches Laurel Luhring and Marty Sytsema, as well as sprints/jumps coaches Derrick Cook and John Swinburne. Maddie placed second in long jump with a new best of 14’5″, and the shot put with a new best of 33’3″. Turned out she was just getting started on the day, in her first competition effort ever in the 100 meter hurdles she ran 17.75 in the semi-final to advance to the final along with Jessica Eenigenburg (Jr.). The 17.75 is the #4 performance in WMC history, Jessica ran a personal best in semi-final as well (19.96). In the final Maddie was fourth in 18.67 (if not for her earlier race this would have been #10 on the WMC list). Kyla added to the family scoring spree with a second place of her own in the discus in a new personal best of 99′.5″ (Currently WMC # 6 all time). In the shot put Kyla was 5th (29′ 10.5″) and high jumped to a tie for sixth at 4’4″. Raina Luhring (Sr.) also added to the point total in discus with a 6th place (85’8.5″).”

Then we moved to the rest of the track events, in event #1 on the track the 4 x 800 relay of Nora Anderson (So.), Grace VanderKooi (Fr.), Ava Rotman (Sr.) and Grace Folkema (So.) were able to work their way to the front and hold off the field for a victory margin of about 10 seconds in 10:31.45, this mark is #10 on the WMC all-time list. The other scoring relay featured the Wiersema’s teaming with Yarya Waller (So.) and Chalon Anderson-Williams (So.) in the 4 x 100 (55.45) for 5th place and a new season best for this group. 

From there the mid-distance/distance group took over and scored in every event from 400 to 3200 meters keeping the team in the top five in the team standings. In the 400 Ava Rotman was 6th (1:07.35) and Molly Kooistra (So.) hit a new personal best (1:19.05). At 800 meters Nora Anderson (So.) was 4th (2:41.31) which was a season best and Morgan Lawrence (2:58.31) hit a new personal best. In the 1600 Grace Folkema (So.) (5:53.71) was 4th as well. In the 3200 Grace VanderKooi was patient early and took over the race in the second half for the win in 12:03.5. We will have a quick turn around to Tuesday’s meet but are really looking forward to Friday’s Conference Final at home.”

In other action Friday, May 6th Abby VanderKooi (Sr.) raced at the Shepherd Bluejay Invitational which features Elite 3200 meter events. Abby was able to compete in a race with a field of many of Michigan’s best distance runners, including Abby, 3 of the 4 champions in cross country from last fall were in the field. This event is known for under the lights (nighttime) racing and championship atmosphere. 

With GMAA and this race on the same date, Coach Kevin Aardema accompanied Abby to Shepherd while I coached at the GMAA’s. Luckily this event also has a live stream, and GMAA wrapped up on time, so it was off to the car to watch Abby in Shepherd from the iPad… Luckily the live stream was excellent, except for a momentary battery failure on the camera in Shepherd that left viewers with no picture for about one lap of the race in the early going.

The early laps saw Abby and Lani Bloom of Ithaca (D3 cross country champion) establish a bit of a gap, the 1600 (1/2 way, 4 laps) was reached in around 5:15 and this seemed to give the chase group now being led by Madelyn Frens of GR Christian (D2 cross country champion and soon to be teammate with Abby at GVSU) some hope. The chasing group was slowly cutting the gap and Madelyn made contact in the 6th lap and this injected some new energy into the race as Abby and Lani started to trade surges to try to keep Madelyn at bay. The final two laps consisted of Abby and Lani throwing in one acceleration after another in an attempt to breakaway, but nothing would stick and Madelyn was right behind then now having dropped her chase pack companions. Entering the final lap Lani used some lapped runners to try once again to break free, Abby covered this move and Lani went again with just under 400 to go, Abby slowly pulled this move back as well and with 200 to go they had most likely dropped Madelyn by a couple of seconds and were setting up for a final straightaway battle. Lani drifted slightly out to protect her position, Abby dropped to the inside to try and move past, Lani was able to hold her off as they both finished under 10:30. Lani 10:29.26, Abby 10:29.63 and Madelyn 10:32.47, the rest of the field was ten seconds back with 11 athletes breaking the 11:00 barrier. Abby’s time is a new WMC school record, breaking her own record of 10:33.39 from 2019, as well as WMC 12th grade record.”

(This weekly track and field update is submitted by WMC track and field head coach Greg Gould)