The boys track and field team are the 2010 OK Blue champions! Last Thursday and Friday, at Sparta High School, the boys redeemed themselves from last year’s conference loss to beat second place West Catholic by 39 points. This is their first league title since 2004. In the process of winning the championship, the Hawks had nine first places, while eight athletes earned their way onto the all-conference team.
The meet began as expected for the Red Hawks on Thursday evening as sophomore Hank Porter won the long jump at 20’ 7.5”, while freshman Kyle Szirovecz finished sixth. Discus throwers Andrew Klompstra and Derek Ash gave the team a boost with fifth and sixth place finishes. The evening concluded with the 3200m relay team of Austin Mora, Alex Bray, Conner Mora, and Achrim Tillbrooke winning the race in a season best 8:13.79. The Hawks left the first evening’s event in fourth place, but only twelve points behind surprise leader, Comstock Park. “We knew where we should have been after the first evening,” commented heach coach Myers. “Comstock Park surprised us a bit. But, we earned the points where we expected to. Also, we got a little more from the discus and long jump events,” he added.
Friday evening began as planed as the Hawks started off with a school record setting win in the 110m hurdles by junior Justin Balczak. His new school record time is 14.71. Freshman Aaron Dault also helped the team by placing fourth. In the 100m dash, the Hawks gained their ground on Comstock Park and climbed on top with a first place finish by James Putnam, and fourth and fifth place finishes by juniors Alex Hemry and Ryan Austin. Then the 800m relay team of Ron Fisk, Hemry, Balczak, and Putnam finished second. Following the relay, freshman Conner Mora continued to wow the league in the 1600m run by winning the event in 4:28.1. Next up was another second place finish in the 400m relay by Ryan Austin, Casey VanEss, Hemry and Putnam. The Hawks were now up by 23 points over West Catholic. After the 400m dash though, they were only up by nine. Balczak gave the team a bigger lead by winning the 300m hurdles in 39.93. Following the hurdles, a very exciting race in the 800m run occurred. Senior Achrim Tillbrooke was second, while classmate Austin Mora finished sixth. James Putnam widened the gap between the Hawks and the Falcons as he won his second event of the evening in the 200m dash. Conner Mora went onto win his third event of the meet in the 3200m run. The last running event of the evening, the 1600m relay, came down to the boys placing second in a season best of 3:30.21. Finally, the last event, the pole vault, junior and school record holder AJ Olszewski earned his way onto the all-conference team by winning it with a vault of 13’ 4”.
The eight boys who earned all-conference honors were seniors Austin Mora and Achrim Tillbrooke; juniors Justin Balczak, AJ Olszewski, and James Putnam; sophomore Hank Porter; and freshmen Alex Bray and Conner Mora.
“What a group! These kids have put the success of the team ahead of their own personal goals,” explained coach Myers. “Their commitment to off season workouts, the weight room, playing other sports, and training is paying off. And they are coachable too. We don’t have athletes second guessing our strategies, personnel moves, or workouts. As coaches, that motivates us to work harder. This is an exciting time to be a part of our program,” he noted. “Incredibly, we won nine events. That was 90 points right there. Then, we also placed second in four events, for another 32 points. But, as we have continuously done this year, we have earned points deeper in the events with fourth, fifth and sixth place finishes. Those places are just as important as they take valuable points away from the opponents.”
Next up for the Hawks is the regional meet at Coopersville on Friday. There, they will take on twelve teams in their quest for a regional title that they haven’t won since 2004. The Red Hawks will be up against two tough teams in Zeeland West and Whitehall that also look to claim a title.