Pioneers run to another conference championship

May 25, 2017

By Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

14 for the boys. Four for the girls. The Clare varsity track and field teams continued to show their the cream of the crop in the Jack Pine Conference on Tuesday, as they wrapped up their 14th and fourth straight respective league crowns at the conference championship meet in Meridian on Tuesday.

Clare’s Elle Johnson sprints to a strong finish. 

Clare’s Elle Johnson sprints to a strong finish.

“It feels good and reflects what the kids strive for initially every year,” boys head coach Adam Burhans said. “Any streak is exciting, but it does grow a bit burdensome when you need to maintain this level for this long.. It’s far tougher than anyone things but the kids hate to lose and we will be strong again next year.”

The Clare boys won with 176.5 points, while fellow county team Harrison was fifth and Farwell was eighth.

Winning conference titles for the Clare boys was Xavier Martin in the 100 and Ben Haupt in the 3200.

Also winning was the 4×200 team of Keagen Alexander, Brecken Corp, Tony Cowles and Alec Hoffman and the 4×800 squad of Caleb Gomez, Tristen Ives, Mitch McDowell and Dylan Morrish. The 4×400 squad also won, though names of the runners were not provided.

On the girls side, the Lady Pioneers won with 201 points, Harrison was third and Farwell claimed a sixth place slot.

For the Lady Pioneers, taking first place medals was Ellie Johnson in the 200 meter dash, Jasmine Harper in the 800 and 1600 meter runs and Kameron Haag in the 3200.

They also won three-of-four relay events. The 4×100 squad of Lexy Lowe, Erin Weeks, Gwen Sherwood and Mackenzie Bryans won as did the 4×200 team of Lexy Harton, Weeks, Kasey Staley and Olivia Cook. Winning in the 4×800 was Harper, Tarryn Winter, Holly Pummell and Lainey Veenkant.
Staley also won the pole vault.

Taking first place for the Harrison boys was Austin Lavigne in the 400 and Jeremy Fillhard in the pole vault.
For the Lady Hornets, Aja Heber won the 100 hurdles and Elle Coughlin won the high jump.

Farwell saw its girls team get conference champions thanks to Jenna Odykirk who won the 100 and 200 meter dashes as well as the 400 meter run. Lillian Albaugh also swept the top spot in the discus and the shot put.

Farwell’s Lillian Albaugh throws her way to a first place finish.

Farwell’s Lillian Albaugh throws her way to a first place finish.

On Friday Clare hosted the division three regional meet, with both Clare teams claiming wins to punch their tickets to the MITCA state finals meet.
The Clare boys won with 147 points while Harrison was eighth and Farwell was 12th. On the girls side, Clare won with 157 points, Harrison was fourth and Farwell came in fifth.

“Zac Stickler had the day of his life, PR’ing in both throws,” Burhans said. “Sersaw and Xavier Martin have been unbelievably consistent in the sprints and our relays were outstanding. Our distance kids have been our staple right along and Haupt, Jimmy Teall, Jayce Miller and Kaleb Schroeder were outstanding. We had some major step-up performances from Hunter Schaaf and Tad Matiza as well. Myles Wiliamson is turning into a tremendous hurdler too. The wins prove how much these guys care for each other and the program. I’m highly impressed by what we’ve accomplished this season and hopefully we can represent well one more time on our home track this Saturday.

Clare’s Zach Stickler throws the discus during Friday’s home regional meet. 

Clare’s Zach Stickler throws the discus during Friday’s home regional meet.

Winners for the boys was Martin in the 100 meter dash, Teall in the 1600 and Haupt in the 3200.

Three of the four relay events were won by Clare as well, with the 4×100 team of Keagen Alexander, Keeghan Billerbeck, Scotty Baldwin and Josh Camp. The winning 4×200 team was Bruin French, Caleb Gomez, Shane Jenkins and Josh Kenny and the winning 4×400 squad was Billerbek, Tristen Ives, Alex Foley and Bryce Dangler.

The Lady Pioneers had Harper win the 1600 and 3200 meter runs and Kasey Staley won in the pole vault.

The girls also swept all four hurdle events. The 4×100 team was Lexy Lowe, Weeks, Mackenzie Bryans and Sherwood, the 4×200 team was Harton, Weeks, Kayden Barber and Johnson, winning the 4×400 was Kayden Barber, Jenna Betts, Julia Wetzer and Natalee Kunse and winning the 4×800 was Harper, Winter, Pummell and Veenkant.

For Harrison, Jeremy Fillhard won the pole vault and Aja Heber won the 100 meter hurdles.

For Farwell, Odykirk was a winner in the 100, 200 and 400 and Albaugh won the shot put.

Clare hosts the MITCA team state finals on Saturday. The Lady Pioneers are defending champions while the boys took fourth last year.

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