Northville senior Chloe Abbott shines at D1 finals, Oak Park wins team title
Hudsonville — While East Kentwood’s Sekayi Bracey and Oak Park’s Anna Jefferson immediately went to work establishing legacies as all-time great sprinters, Northville’s Chloe Abbott was taking the long, slow road to success.
After three years of being overshadowed by two of the best sprinters ever in the state of Michigan, Abbott is now in their class.
The Northville senior beat both of them head-to-head and had victories in three of the final six events of the day at the Division 1 track and field championships on Saturday at Baldwin Street Middle School.
First, Bracey won the 400-meter run in 53.10 seconds. Jefferson won that event in 2013 and 2014 before taking second in 2015. She had to settle for third on Saturday.
Less than an hour after saying "I can’t breathe" during an interview following her victory in the 400, Abbott handed Bracey her first loss in the 200 at the state meet, posting a time of 24.03 seconds. Bracey, a three-time state champion in the 200, was a stunning fourth in 24.30.
Abbott capped her day by anchoring Northville’s winning 1,600 relay team.
"I’m surprising myself today," she said.
In 2013, when Bracey and Jefferson were winning championships as freshmen, Abbott was 27th in the 200. She took sixth in the 100 and ninth in the 200 as a sophomore, while helping Northville get two top-three finishes in relays. As a junior, she was third in the 400 and seventh in the 200, adding a third-place finish on the 1,600 relay.
Abbott didn’t beat Jefferson in the 400 until last summer.
"Ever since then, I didn’t want to get beat by her again," Abbott said. "So, I kept pushing and knew I could do it."
Abbott had never beaten Bracey until Saturday.
"I never even dreamed of beating Sekayi," Abbott said. "I knew how great she was. She hasn’t had a lot of competition all season. I figured she was going to come out and push it today, because she finally has some competition. I was nervous about that, because she’s very good. I wanted to make sure I got that out of my head, forget about the people and just focus on my race and what I can control."
Bracey’s only loss in a 200 final before Saturday came her freshman year when she was beaten by Rockford’s Sammy Cuneo in the MITCA Division 1 Team State Championships.
"I don’t even know what happened," Bracey said. "I was so frustrated when they were all coming up on me. I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ I never had that in my life. It was confusing."
The big winner in the meet may have been Purdue University. The Boilermakers have recruited two of the best sprinters in Michigan in Abbott and Bracey.
"That’s going to be my roommate," Bracey said. "We’re going to Purdue together. We’ve raced our whole lives, pretty much. Chloe is a great runner. I’ve seen her become great over time and her fighting through."
Bracey added two more victories to her resume, finishing her outstanding career at East Kentwood with 10 individual championships in MHSAA track and field meets. She won the 100 for the fourth time in 12.08 seconds, while taking the long jump for the third time with a leap of 18 feet, 10 inches.
"Taking home two state titles is a blessing, even though I wanted better," Bracey said. "It was good."
Jefferson led Oak Park to a third straight team championship and all-division state finals records in the 800 and 400 relays. The Knights had 81.5 points, while second-place Ann Arbor Pioneer had 64.
Jefferson helped Oak Park break two all-division records set by Detroit Mumford in 2005 with times of 1:36.66 in the 800 relay and 46.28 in the 400 relay.
"That was special," Oak Park coach Brandon Jiles said. "We knew we could run fast in the 4×1 and 4×2. It was all about putting it on the track. Those times are the fastest times by far that have been run in the state. For those kids to run that fast, they were really rolling. Everything had paid off, the hard work."
Oak Park’s individual champions were sophomore Dorriann Coleman, who took the 800 in 2:10.20, and senior Brianna Holloway, who set a Division 1 finals record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.71.
Greenville junior Landon Kemp was quietly one of the meet’s brightest stars. The highlight of her day was breaking the all-division finals record in the pole vault with a leap of 13 feet, 4 inches. She also took second in the long jump at 18-5.5 and fifth in the 100 hurdles in 14.87.
Other individual champions were Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Britten Bowen in the 100 hurdles (14.08); Port Huron’s Rachel Bonner in the 1,600 (4:49.29); Farmington’s Maddy Trevisan in the 3,200; Grand Blanc’s Quiara Wheeler in the discus (136-2); Grosse Pointe South’s Kayli Johnson in the shot put (44-7.75); and Macomb Dakota’s Kayla Dobies in the high jump (5-7).
Ann Arbor Pioneer won the 3,200 relay in 8:56.52.