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Tag Archive | "NCAA"

Local principal to umpire College World Series


Michael Duffy has been umpiring for college baseball since 1985.

Michael Duffy has been umpiring for college baseball since 1985.

Michael Duffy

Michael Duffy

 

By Judy Reed

This last week has been a dream come true for Cedar Trails principal Michael Duffy. After a 30-year love affair with umpiring college baseball games, he is finally officiating at the College World Series, in Omaha, Nebraska, which began last Saturday, June 13.

Duffy, who umpires for the Big Ten, Mid-American, and Big East Conferences, began umpiring college baseball in 1985, for smaller colleges. But his roots go much deeper. He played Little League as a boy, and then began to umpire Little League games when he was a high school baseball player. After graduation, he umpired high school games.

In 1985, he was approached by Terry Bocian, Athletic Director at Aquinas. “I knew Terry, and he said he needed an ump for just one game,” explained Duffy. But he was hooked. “It became a love affair,” he said.

Duffy at first umpired for smaller colleges, like Aquinas and Grand Rapids Community College. He’s been doing the Big 10 since 1995. “My mentor, Bruce Doane Jr., took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, then said you are ready to go out on your own,” he recalled.

What does Duffy like about umpiring? “I’ve always been a sports enthusiast. At first, I needed to make some money, but I loved being around sports and the competition. After awhile, I realized that ‘Hey, I’m pretty good at this.’ Then other people started to notice my skill level. It’s really just a thrill to be a part of it,” he said.

This year, Duffy umpired 42 Division 1 baseball games, which take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Post asked Duffy how that worked with his job as principal at Cedar Trails Elementary. “The school has been really good about it. Cedar Springs allowed me to restructure my contract so that I work less days,” he explained.

Duffy has been working hard to get to the College World Series. Over the years he has worked several NCAA Division I Regional Tournaments and one NCAA Division I Super Regional Tournament. He has also worked NCAA Division II, III, and JUCO Regional Tournaments. He has also umpired three baseball high school State Championships. With all that on his resume, there was still one thing they wanted him to do to reach the College World Series: take off a few pounds. Duffy did that, and this year, he finally got the call.

While Duffy didn’t have his schedule when we talked last week, he said that people could recognize him by the number he will be wearing—22. He got to choose his number, and it was a heartfelt decision. “My favorite number is 12. I wore it in school as a quarterback, and in baseball. But I decided the number to choose was #22—to honor the person who has sacrificed the most—my wife, Deb. That was her number in school, when she played softball,” he explained. “So with thankful thoughts, I chose 22.”

Duffy will be in Omaha through June 25. The series started on Saturday, June 13.

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Former CSHS track athlete is national Champion 


Justin Balczak captured the 2015 NCAA Division II decathlon national championship, picking up his second individual national title. Photo by Joe Reinsch, Asuza Pacific University.

Justin Balczak captured the 2015 NCAA Division II decathlon national championship, picking up his second individual national title. Photo by Joe Reinsch, Asuza Pacific University.

Justin Balczak (center) on winner’s stand. Photo courtesy Jeff Myers.

Justin Balczak (center) on winner’s stand. Photo courtesy Jeff Myers.

Grand Valley State University hosted the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships on May 21-23. Former state champion hurdler, Justin Balczak (class of 2011), who attends Azusa Pacific University in California, competed in the decathlon, a grueling two-day event.

The event accumulates points based on how close the decathletes come to the world record mark in each event. Upon the conclusion of each event, the athletes are given 30 minutes to prepare for their next. There is very little mental and physical rest.

On day one, Justin competed in the 100m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m dash. Balczak posted an 11.37 in the 100; long jumped 23’ 2”; threw the 16lb. shot put 42’ 8”; won the high jump event at 6’ 7.5”; and ran the 400 in 50.36 seconds. After the first day of competition, Justin led the field of 15.

Day two started with the 110m hurdles, followed by the discus, pole vault, javelin, and concluded with the 1500m run. His 14.71 seconds in the hurdles placed him second; he struggled in the discus by throwing 116’ 3”; placed second in the pole vault with a jump of 14’ 11”; threw the javelin 175’ 10”; and finished the 1500 in 4:43.99. His points earned declared him national champion in Division II.

This was Justin’s first outdoor national championship, while he won the heptathlon this past winter. “It’s terribly taxing on the mind and body,” remarked Justin. “You learn that you have to forget the last event and prepare for the next.”

He is coached by former Olympic decathlete, Brian Clay.

In July, Justin will compete in the Pan-American Games in Toronto. With success, he can earn a roster spot on the U.S. National team.

Balczak is a well decorated collegiate athlete. He has earned All-American status four consecutive years competing in indoor track and field (three at Lake Superior State University and one at Azusa Pacific), while being awarded All-American three times in the outdoor season (two at LSSU and his first at A.P.U.). He has one season of eligibility remaining in outdoor track and field.

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Cedar Springs athlete crowned national champion


N-Balczak-national-champion1Justin Balczak, a 2011 Cedar Springs High School graduate, is now a national champion in the heptathlon. He competed for Asuza Pacific University, located in southern California, in the two-day NCAA Division II Indoor Championships in Birmingham, Alabama during the weekend of March 13. The heptathlon is a seven-event meet that measures speed, endurance, strength and agility. Balczak entered the meet seeded fourth in the nation and competed against 13 other athletes at the national championships.

On day one, Balczak competed in the 60m dash (7.33 sec.), long jump (22’ 3.5”), shot put (43’ 8.75” with a 16 lb. shot), and the high jump (personal best of 6’ 10.5”). Balczak’s marks put him in third place after the first day of competition.

N-Balczak-national-champion2Day two brought on three different events—the 60m hurdles (8.24 sec), pole vault (14’ 9”) and concluded with the 1000m run (2:45 for another personal best). Balczak needed his personal best in the 1000 because he learned before the race that he was in second place and he needed to beat the first place competitor by 8 seconds.

Balczak began his collegiate career at Lake Superior State University and was Division II All-American while attending. He sat out his junior season to prepare to transfer and face a new challenge.

“The multi has a different mindset than any other event in track and field. The camaraderie that is displayed in this event is unlike anything else in college track,” he explained. “We are the guys who cheer each other on, pick each other up, and push each other to limits we never knew our bodies could handle.”

As a four-year member of the boys high school track and field team, Justin competed in the 110m high hurdles (2011 state champion), 300m intermediate hurdles (2011 state runner-up), 4x400m relay, 4x200m relay (member of the 2011 school record team), 4x100m relay and shot put (2011 conference champion). Even though he now high jumps 6’ 10”, and pole vaults 14’ 9”, he never tried those events while in high school.

His next challenge is to prepare for the decathlon this spring. Added events include the discus, javelin and 400m dash.

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Balczak wins Fallis award


Lake Superior State University Math Professor Tom Boger presents track and field’s Justin Balczak with the Jim Fallis Award during an all-sports banquet April 17 at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Lake Superior State University Math Professor Tom Boger presents track and field’s Justin Balczak with the Jim Fallis Award during an all-sports banquet April 17 at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

Justin Balczak, a 2011 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, has won the Jim Fallis Award, from Lake Superior State University.

The award, named after LSSU’s All-American wrestler and former director of athletics, goes to an All-American or student-athlete who has excelled in the classroom and in his or her sport.

Balczak, a junior at LSSU, is a four-time All-American in the multi-events. He finished second in the NCAA Outdoor decathlon last spring and third the year before. At the NCAA Indoor Championships, he has finishes of 10th, second and fifth in the heptathlon. He owns LSSU school records in both events, along with the indoor 55-meter hurdles, and outdoor 110-meter hurdles and pole vault.

He got off to a slow start during this year’s NCAA Indoor heptathlon, but improved throughout the meet, topping off his performance with a first-place finish in the shot put. He went on to finish fifth in the event. He is red-shirting during this outdoor season.

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Post goes to Colorado


N-Post-Balczak-goes-to-NCAA

The Post went with Mark and Ann Balczak to the NCAA Nationals in Pueblo, Colorado last week, where they went to see their son, Justin, compete. The photo shows Justin after his two day Decathalon 2nd place win, May 23-24. Justin is a sophomore at Lake Superior State University. For more details on his win, see page 16.

Congratulations, Justin, and thanks to Mark and Ann for taking us with you!

 

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Balczak records runner-up finish in NCAA decathlon


info from Lake Superior State University

Justin Balczak (left) placed second in NCAA decathlon.

Justin Balczak (left) placed second in NCAA decathlon.

 

Lake Superior State sophomore Justin Balczak, of Cedar Springs, made another impressive showing on a national stage by placing second in the men’s decathlon at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Colorado State University.

Balczak, who was also the heptathlon runner-up during the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships, improved upon last season’s third-place outdoor decathlon finish. Defending outdoor champion J Patrick Smith of Chico State won the 2013 decathlon title with 7,612 points, while Balczak placed second and earned All-America honors with a school-record 7,387 points. NCAA indoor champion Brent Vogel of Central Missouri State was third with 3,384 points. Saginaw Valley State’s Tyler Grob took fourth with 7,230 points.

S-Balczak-takes-second2Smith opened the competition with wins in the 100-meter dash and long jump, and finished no worse than third in five other events. Balczak’s lone victory came in his specialty, the 110-meter hurdles, where he clocked a :14.34.

During Thursday’s opening day of competition, Balczak placed 11th in the 100-meter dash (:11.21), second in the long jump (7.23 meters) and shot put (13.37 meters), third in the high jump (1.96 meters), and sixth in the 400-meter dash (:49.80). On Friday, after winning the hurdles, he was 12th in the discus throw (33.84 meters), fifth in the pole vault (4.40 meters) and javelin throw (54.61 meters), and seventh in the 1,500-meter run (4:59.41).

Also on Friday, Balczak finished 15th in the 110-meter hurdles individual race with a time of 0:14.27.

Balczak is a 2011 graduate of Cedar Springs High School. While in high school, he was a state champion in the 110m high hurdles and broke school records in the high hurdles, 300m low hurdles, and the 800m relay. He is the son of Mark and Ann Balczak of Cedar Springs.

 

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Balczak earns All-American title


Balczak took first place in hgh jump.

Justin Balczak, a 2011 graduate of Cedar Springs High School, and freshman this year at Lake Superior State University, earned the title of All-American for finishing third in the men’s decathlon at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Colorado State-Pueblo last weekend.

Balczak competed in 10 events over a two-day period, setting six personal records. On day one he placed first in the high jump (6-08.25 – a personal record); placed third in the shot put (42-04.25 – a personal record); fourth in the 400-meter dash (50.33); fifth in the 100m dash (11.30 – a personal record) and seventh in the long jump (21-06.75).

He finished day one in third place overall, with 5 events to go on Friday, and stayed consistently strong.

On day two, Balczak finished second in the high hurdles (14.54 – a personal record); third in the discus (129-4 – a personal record); third in the javelin (172.07 – a personal record); ninth in the 1500m run (5.09:21); and tenth in the pole vault (12-.05.5).

Patrick Smith of Chico State won the decathlon with 7,366 points, followed by Darius Walker of Central Missouri State with 7,185 and Balczak with 7,072.

While in high school, Balczak was a state champion in the 110m high hurdles and holds school records in the high hurdles, 300m low hurdles, and the 800m relay. He is the son of Mark and Ann Balczak of Cedar Springs.

Congratulations, Justin!

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Two former track athletes to compete at NCAA Finals


Tyler Emmorey (class of 2007) and Justin Balczak (class of 2011) have both qualified for the NCAA Division II National Indoor Track and Field Finals to be held at Minnesota State-Mankato on March 9-10. Emmorey, competing in his last year at Grand Valley State University, qualified in the men’s 5000m run with at time of 4:19.88. He is seeded tenth in the nation in DII. Tyler is no stranger to the NCAA Finals as he qualified during the cross-country season for the Lakers and has been a steeple chase qualifier in his previous outdoor seasons during his five year collegiate career. This will be Tyler’s last competition as a collegiate athlete, as he has no eligibility remaining.

Balczak, competing for Lake Superior State University, is ranked third in the nation, and top freshman, in the decathlon event. Justin must compete in seven events against twelve other athletes over the two-day meet. They include the 60m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60m hurdles, pole vault and the 1,000m run. Justin claims that the two days of events is much more demanding on the body and mind than he ever thought it would be. He credits his success to quality coaching at Lake State, including up to five-hour practices. This spring, he will periodically compete in the decathlon during the outdoor season.

During both of their high school careers, Emmorey was a state qualifier in the 3200m run and in cross-country, while Balczak was a state champion in the 110m high hurdles and holds school records in the high hurdles, 300m low hurdles, and the 800m relay.

 

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GVSU men’s cross country hometown release


Cedar Springs grad Tyler Emmorey at the 2011 NCAA Division II National Championship in Spokane, Wash. He is currently a senior at Grand Valley State University. Photo used with permission from GVSU.

The Grand Valley State men’s cross country team had another banner season, matching the program’s best finish at the NCAA Division II National Championship with a third place result in Spokane, Wash. The team won its 10th straight GLIAC Championship and their 10th straight NCAA Division II Midwest Regional Championship with their performances towards the end of the season. Senior Anthony Witt was named both the GLIAC Men’s Cross Country Athlete of the Year and USTFCCCA Midwest Region Athlete of the Year after finishing in first place at both events.

Senior Tyler Emmorey (Cedar Springs, Mich.) was consistently at the top of the results in every event he ran this season.

Emmorey finished second at the Notre Dame Invite with a time of 25:01, second at the GLIAC Championships in a time of 25:28.72, second at the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional with a time of 32:00.6, just two seconds behind the winner, fourth at the MSU Spartan Invite with a time of 24:34 and fifth at the Penn State National Invitational with a time of 26:29.

At the NCAA Division II National Championship, Emmorey finished in eighth and was the highest finishing Laker in the event, completing the course in a time of 31:25.0, just 40 seconds behind the national champion. He was honored as both a USTFCCCA All-Region runner as well as an All-American.

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