Track and Field

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State title in 400 by Edison hoops star Brian Taylor among the highlight performances at Division 3 track and field championships

By: Tom Markowski, June 1, 2019, 9:45 pm

JENISON – Brian Taylor made the most of the time he had as a track athlete for Detroit Edison.

Taylor, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard for the basketball team and a four-year varsity player, won the 400-meter dash at the Division 3 Track and Field Championships held at Jenison High School on Saturday.

This might not seem so remarkable to some but this is the first year that Edison has sponsored a track team.

So, where did you learn to run, Brian?

“I’ve been running since elementary school,” he said. “And during the basketball season I would runs sprints. The sprints helped. I like competing.”

He had no formal training for this event. He did not compete with any track club. All he did was play basketball. And well. He signed with Illinois-Chicago for basketball and he said he’s considering trying out for the track team. Why not? He has experience now.


Weather delays cause havoc

Three delays caused by lightning extended the meet well into the evening. The last one came just before the final event, the 1,600 relay, sending nearly all of the fans to race for the exits.

The delays also caused many events to be squeezed, where some athletes were asked to run preliminaries in conjunction with other events.

“It was pretty hectic,” Giovanni Weeks, a sprinter and a long jump competitor from Kent City said. “I had my jump just near the prelims of the 100 and I really just had one good jump. I didn’t have to think about it, and that probably helped. Winning was a thought but it just depends on the day. You can’t plan on this thunder and stuff.”

Weeks fared well winning the long jump (21-feet-5.25) and the 200 dash (21.93). He also placed second in the 100 dash.


Repeat winner

Sometimes defending a title can be more challenging than winning it for the first time. McKenna Russell of Onsted would agree with that assessment. 

Russell won the 300 hurdles as a sophomore in 2018 and she said that by doing so those around her think she should naturally win it again.

“I started out today thinking, you know, I can win this,” she said. “With the hurdles once you get sprinting out and getting the timing of the hurdles, that’s the big thing.”

Russell won with a time of 45.81 with Madelyn Allman of Quincy placing second (46.92).


Team champs

Ithaca won its first boys state title as the Yellowjackets finished with 45 points, one better than Saugatuck and Pewamo-Westphalia, each finished with 44. Harbor Springs was fourth with 43.

Ransom Allen led Ithaca as he placed first in the 3,200 run with a time of 9:19.70 and he also took second in the 1,600 run. The Yellowjackets also received strong performances in the field events as Alex VanDeWeghe won the shot put with a put of 59-7, and he also placed fifth in the discus. Ithaca’s Baylee Chaffin placed second in the discus with a throw of 161-feet-1.

Pewamo-Westphalia won its first title girls state title since 2015 and fourth overall as they finished with 45 points. Last season’s co-champions, St. Charles, was second with 37.5 points and Shepherd took third with 35.

Pewamo-Westphalia did not have an athlete placed first but two of its relays, 800 and 3,200, each placed second. The top individual finisher for the Pirates was Sophie Thelen. She placed third in the 100 dash and she also took fourth in the 200.

The Bulldogs won two relay events (400 and 800) and Mikayla Williams won the long jump with a jump of 17-2, a personal best.

“I’ve been babying my (left) knee all year,” she said. “That jump (of 17-2) was actually my first of the meet. Last year I finished second and (on one jump) I put my hand behind my head. I didn’t do that this year. Yeah, I think I would have won if I didn’t do that (last year).”


Dunn for good

Brad Dunn is fourth of four boys in a family of nine and he competed in his last athletic contest at Saugatuck on Saturday. And he went out in fine fashion.

Dunn was the 110 and 300 hurdle events with times of 14.63 and 40.06, respectively. Dunn played his last baseball game in a predistrict this past Tuesday. He also played quarterback and defensive back in football, and he played basketball as well. Next season he will play baseball at Grand Rapids Community College. He’s a left-handed pitcher who throws in the mid 80s.

His older brothers, Will, Nick and Blake all played football for their father, Bill Dunn who is also the athletic director at the school. 

 “It’s crazy being the youngest,” Brad said. “I usually got blamed for everything. (My older brothers) set the example for me. They told me what to do and what not to do.”


Top athlete

Amber Gall of Shepherd gets our vote. She withstood the delays and the pressure to end a terrific four-year career.

Gall won the 800-meter run and the mile, and began the day helping her team to a first-place finish in the 3,200 relay (9:33.89).

The poor conditions didn’t bother Gall, who will attend Michigan in the fall on a track scholarship. She won the 800 run as a sophomore and finished second in the 800 last season finishing .01 behind Judy Rector of Hanover-Horton.

“I’m excited,” Gall said after winning the 800 with a time of 2:12.72.

Lauren Freeland of Kent City was second with a time of 2:13.97. Last year Freeland defeated Gall by .01. 

“Mentally, it takes a toll. Last year I had a good year, not my best. I couldn’t be happier with the way this year has gone. The 800 is probably the toughest to run,” Gall said. “It’s the gutsiest. You have to find another gear.”