In Play with Tom Markowski

Track and Field

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Hoogenraad, Jacobs, Bandel and others provide drama at track finals

By: Tom Markowski, June 5, 2016, 9:47 pm



Zeeland – Haley Hoogenraad heard the seconds ticking away in her head. The senior from Zeeland West wasn’t looking at any clock or cell phone. Her time as a high school athlete was about to come to an end and Hoogenraad desperately wanted to make every second count.

Hoogenraad awoke early on Saturday not knowing if it would be her last day competing as a Dux or if her four years as a three-sport athlete would end.

At 9:30 Hoogenraad and her three teammates competed in the Division 2 3,200-meter relay at Zeeland Stadium but did not place. Once the race was completed Hoogenraad was driven to Holland Christian, approximately a 15-minute ride, to compete in a Division 2 district softball semifinal. The game started at noon and West lost.

Once that game was completed she got back into a car and drove back to Zeeland Stadium and, with minutes to spare, readied herself for the 800 run. Hoogenraad was seeded first in this event but placed fourth. She was second with a lap to go but just didn’t have enough in the tank to make a strong move.

A day full of disappointments was overshadowed by the fact that Hoogenraad did everything she could to help her track team and her softball team.

“I’m sad but I tried,” she said. “I was glad I had the opportunity to support our teams. I know my finish was disappointing but this was something I wanted to do. This is the last day I was going to wear this uniform.”

Before the season Hoogenraad and her mother, Rhonda Hoogenraad, who is also the varsity softball coach, discussed such a scenario and it was decided that if the two sports conflicted softball would be the sport Haley would choose. But it was also discussed throughout last week that if her softball team was eliminated she would do her best to compete in the 800.

What many might not grasp is that an athlete, under normal circumstances, would devote all of his or her energy and concentration on preparing for one sport. Having her attention split between two had its effects.

“I wake up in the morning and think, do I have to run the 800 or the 4×8?” she said. “While others are practicing for the 800 I’m not giving my all. Some days I’m just with the softball team.”

Hoogenraad also played varsity basketball for four seasons, the last tow she was selected honorable mention all-state. Her finish in the 800 is also good for all-state honors. She played shortstop this season and her batting averaged was consistently over .550. Hoogenraad will almost certainly be selected first team all-state in that sport and next season she’ll play at Michigan.

Sure there wear tears on Saturday but not all were tears of sorrow. Hoogenraad has accomplished much and has much to look forward to.



Other notable athletes


An all-division finals record was set at the Division 1 meet at Hudsonville. Connor Bandel of Oxford set the record in the shot put with a put of 67 feet, 5¾ inches. Bandel’ broke the all-division record of 64 feet, ½ inch set by Tico Duckett of Kalamazoo Loy Norrix at the Class A meet in 1999 Lower Peninsula Class A meet.

Bandel’s record throw in the shot put came in the fifth of his six throws.

Also at the Division 1 meet Jackson senior Anthony Owens had a jump of 24 feet, 1¼ to win the high jump. It was good enough to get into the record books but it was determined that his jump was wind-aided so Flushing’s Jeff Kline still have the record jump, officially, at 24 feet, 1 inch set in the 2009.

In the girls competition in Division 1 Northville’s Chloe Abbott stunned most by winning 200 dash with a time of 24.03. Sekayi Bracey of East Kentwood was the three-time champion in this event and placed fourth with a time of 24.30. Bracey did win the 100 and the 400. It was her fourth title in the 100. Both will attend Purdue this fall.

Oak Park won the boys and girls titles in Division 1. In 2004 Detroit Mumford also won the boys and girls Division 1 titles.

Noah Jacobs of Corunna also entered the record books by becoming the first runner in Division 2 to break the nine-minute mark in the 3,200 run. His time of 8:55.57 is second all-time to Dathan Ritzenhein of Rockford (8:43.32) who set the mark in 2001. Only one other runner has broken the nine-minute mark and that’s Brian Grosso of Walled Lake Western in 1989. His time was 8:59.2.

Jacobs is just a junior and there was a comparison made at Zeeland on Saturday linking Jacobs to Ritzenhein and Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc. Fisher set the state record in the 1,600 last season with a time of 4:00.28, more than nine second better than any other runner. Jacobs was humbled, and grateful, for the comparison.

 “I don’t know if I’m in that category,” he said. “That’s where I want to be.”

There’s time.