Olivia Theis of Lansing Catholic and Kayla Windemuller of Holland Christian set state records at D2 track finals
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Zeeland – This time the results lived up to the expectations.
Kayla Windemuller of Holland Christian entered Saturday’s Division 2 girls track and field championships at Zeeland Stadium as the two-time defending champion in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs.
Also entering the meet as a defending champion in these events was Olivia Theis of Lansing Catholic, which competed in the Division 3 finals last season.
Best of friends, these two premier distance runners went head-to-head for the first time in a state final.
The result? They both won.
Windemuller easily won the 1,600 and Theis won the 3,200 in similiar fashion. Theis’ time of 10:37.08 set a Division 3 record. Windemuller placed third behind Theis’ sister, Jaden, who’s a sophomore.
Windemuller won the mile with a Division 2 record time of 4:49.55, nearly five seconds ahead of Olivia Theis and over 11 seconds ahead of Jaden.
This state is not short on dynamic distance runners, both boys and girls, and Windemuller and Olivia Theis will be remembered with the other great runners such as Hannah Meier of Grosse Pointe South and Erin Finn of West Bloomfield, to name two. Some of the top distance runners on the boys side include Dathan Ritzenhein of Rockford, Noah Jacobs of Corunna and Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc.
So who was better on Saurday, Windemuller or Olivia Theis? It might be a toss-up.
Taking Windemuller’s side, it must be noted that she ran on the winning 3,200 relay and placed fourth in the 800 on Saturday. Olivia Theis ran on the 3,200 relay that placed second but did not compete in the 800.
Taking Theis’ side she owns the Division 2 and Division 3 record in the 3,200 and has the Division 3 record in the 1,600.
After winning the 1,600, by nearly two seconds over the previous record (4:51.53, Karrigan Smith of St. Johns in 2014), Windemuller raised her arms in celebration as she crossed the finish line in a rare show of emotion.
“My goal was to get under 4:50 and I did it,” Windemuller said. “When you’re on top, it’s even more difficult to win. It was huge. I’m so happy. I’ve replayed this race so many times before. Olivia has taught me so much. She’s one of my best friends. It’s not about beating each other. Of course, we both want to win. It’s about both of us getting better.”
Theis signed with Michigan, a school Windemuller considered seriously before she chose to sign with Baylor.
Theis is a remarkable athlete. She competed in softball her freshman and sophomore seasons before switching to track. She set the all-time cross country record last fall with a time of 16:52.1. Megan Goethals of Rochester is second with a time of 16:54.8 that she posted in 2009.
Last month she was named the Detroit Athletic Club Female Athlete of the Year, an honor Olympic Gold Medal winner Allison Schmidt (Canton) won in 2008.
After setting the Division 2 record, Theis ran two laps while the other runners rested. It’s her routine. It’s how she cools down and mentally goes over the race.
With relatively a brief career in running, one can’t help but wonder what’s in store for Theis. Is the two mile run too short of a race for her? She said she’ll likely run the 3,000-kilometer in college with possibly working toward competing in the 10,000.
“(Running) is a part of me,” she said. “I don’t want it to define me.
“Losing the mile, it is extra motivation. That was my goal. I gave it my all. (Windemuller) prepared better.
“In the two mile, once I realized I was alone, I wanted to go for the time. With three laps to go, I knew I had it. My coach told me.”
Windemuller’s performance nearly gave her team a state title. Holland Christian had 62 points, two behind first-place Zeeland East. Detroit Country Day was third with 42 points and Lansing Catholic placed fourth with 40.
Coldwater won its first track title as the Cardinals scored well in the field events and had Shuaib Aljabaly scoring well in the distance races. Coldwater had 60 points and Zeeland East, the 2017 champion, was second with 53. Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy was third with 37 points and Tecumseh was fourth with 33.
Other top individuals
Suenomi Norinh of Zeeland East won three events and placed second in the 300 hurdles with a personal best time of 44.91.
She also recorded a personal best in the 100 hurdles (14.63) and the long jump (18 feet, 1¾ inches). Her jump of 5 feet, 8 inches was one inch off the Division 2 record.
“I expected some success but not this,” she said. “The 300 really surprised me. I didn’t think I could run that fast. It’s my least favorite event. It takes super guts.”
Norinh signed with Missouri and plans on majoring in nursing.
Payten Williams of Bridgeport is a junior who won both sprints and she said she owes much of her success to her mother, Sparkle Williams, who ran track at Saginaw Arthur Hill.
Williams’ time of 24.73 in the 200 is a personal best.
“I like the 100 better,” she said. “It’s shorter.
“My mom really helps me setting up the right coaches and stuff. I might run with Maximum Output in Detroit this summer and she’s the one setting that up for me.”
Brianna Bredeweg of Allendale set the Division 2 record in the pole vault with a vault of 12 feet, 7 inches. Gabriella LeRoux of Spring Lake held the record for one year as she won this event with a vault of 12-6.
Alex Inosencio of Jackson County Western won the boys pole vault (15-8) and tried for the Division 2 record at 16-2 but failed on two attempts.
Sophomore Dylan Targgart of Coldwater was a double-winner (discus, shot put) and Aljabaly won the mile run and placed third in the two mile.
Thomas Robinson of Wyoming Lee, for the third time, won both the 100 and 200. Lee competed in Division 3 before this season. Robinson signed with Michigan State.