The Red Hawk boys track team came up 13 points short last weekend to Zeeland West in their quest for their first regional title since 2004. Yet, they qualified for the state coaches association’s team state finals Memorial Day weekend, and also advanced 11 individuals onto the MHSAA state finals on June 5.
“We competed hard tonight,” said Coach Jeff Myers. “As in all big meets, some things went as expected, some events were surprising, and in a few, things just didn’t go our way.”
But that doesn’t dampen the team’s enthusiasm. “We still have goals to achieve. We will be the underdogs at the team state meet, and the boys that advanced onto the individual state finals would all like to come home with a medal. Zeeland West is a very good team. We knew that we had our work cut out for us tonight,” added Myers.
Next weekend, the Hawks will take on other regional winners and runners-up at Jenison High School. They will be allowed to enter three individuals per event, including one relay team. “The best part about this meet is that we get to match our team depth along with the other regional champions and runners-up. It really gives us a more accurate measure of our team,” quoted Coach.
The eleven athletes who advanced onto the MHSAA state finals include pole vaulter AJ Olszewski, who will be making his second appearance; the 3200m relay team of senior captains Achrim Tillbrooke and Austin Mora, along with freshmen Conner Mora and Alex Bray; junior hurdler and captain Justin Balczak will be making his second straight appearance in the 110m and 300m hurdles; junior sprinter and captain James Putnam, who qualified in the 100m and 200m dash, along with the 400m relay; the remaining relay team includes junior Ryan Austin, sophomore Casey VanEss, and junior Alex Hemry; Conner Mora will also represent the team in the 1600m and 3200m runs; and the 1600m relay team of junior Ron Fisk, Austin Mora, Tillbrooke, and Balczak.
“This is the largest group that we have sent to the state finals since 2004,” noted Coach Myers. “There were a lot of happy faces and smiles when they found out that they qualified.”