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Back on track: Farmington ends 40-year regional drought

| May 21, 2011 | Comments (0)

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Farmington redefined the terms ‘ending a drought’ Saturday afternoon.

The Falcons captured their first regional championship in boys track and field in 40 years, topping the Division 1 field at West Bloomfield High School with 91.5 points.

Birmingham Brother Rice was second with 78 points, while West Bloomfield (76), Rochester (75) and Southfield (56) rounded out the top five.

“1971…not that we were counting,” smiled veteran Farmington coach Chip Bridges about his program’s title drought. “The last 10 years we have been second at least, I think, three times.  We’ve been knocking on the door for a while now.

“Last year we had a great group of kids,” added Bridges. “But Brother Rice (won last year). They had a great day with the throws (to prevail). This year we were just consistent. When you go into a regional, all you have to do is do what you have done all year.”

In the girls meet, Farmington Harrison, thanks to a key transfer and several quality sprinters and hurdlers, won its first regional title in Division 1. The Hawks, who scored 82 points, won a regional crown in 2008 as a Division 2 school.

Farmington was second with 79 points and two-time defending regional champion Rochester, despite some disqualifications, finished third with 68 points. Southfield (56) and West Bloomfield (55) wrapped up the top five.

“I knew we would be in the hunt, but honestly, I had no idea that we (would win),” said Harrison girls coach Mark Babcock. “When you look at this many teams, it’s really hard to say.”

Laticia Sims, a transfer from Romulus, won the 100 hurdles (14.4) and 300 (43.5) to lead Harrison. Molly Miller added a win in the pole vault (7-8) for Harrison, which scored in nine events.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Sims, a junior and one of the Hawks’ top performers all season. “This is my first year (at Harrison) and I am just glad to be here.”

Rochester’s Brook Handler joined the state’s elite with wins in both the 1,600 (4:54.8) and 800 (2:12.9), while running on the runner-up 1,600 relay.

“It’s regionals, the same races you run at states, so you have to get a good time,” said Handler, who didn’t mind the warm temperatures and heat index. “I wasn’t running with anyone, so I just did the best I could.”

Teammate Emily Leppek added a win in the long jump (16-7 ½) and ran on three state-qualifying relays. Teanna Murray, the top seed in the 100, false-started in the race but gained some redemption by chasing down the leaders as the anchor on the winning 400 relay (49.5), just two one-hundredths of a second ahead of Harrison.

Leppek, Manjoa Likine and Tequaza Terry also ran on the 400 relay for Rochester.

Southfield’s Latipha Cross, a transfer from Inkster Cherry Hills Academy, won both the 200 (25.4) and 400 (56.5) and ran a blistering 56 seconds anchor on the 1,600 relay (4:02.3), passing Rochester’s Handler in the final straightaway. Crystal Abernathy, Jana Sands and Kierra Washington joined Cross on the 1,600 relay winning unit, heading up a group of five qualifying teams.

Cross and Abernathy joined Shauntai Graham and Jewel Hampton on the winning 800 relay (1:42.5), leading three qualifiers in the event.

“I love it here, because there is so much competition,” said Cross, who did not score at the Division 3 state meet at her former school last season. “I felt great out here today, and I am really looking forward to the (county and state meets).”

West Bloomfield’s Taylor Gunn qualified for the fourth time in winning the shot put (40-1) and discus (143-1). Erin Finn won the 3,200 (10:33.8) and took second in the 1,600 for the Lakers.

“It’s not easy running alone (in the 3,200), but I will see competition at the state meet,” said Finn.

Lathrup’s Jewel Thomas won the 100 (12.3) and Keinna Ingram the high jump (5-4) for the Chargers.

Farmington’s sole win in the girls meet came from the foursome of Jacquelyne  Zolynsky, Josephine Zolynsky, Olivia Salinas and Gabby Deflorio, who joined forces for a win in the 3,200 relay (9:44.4).

In the boys meet, Farmington won only two events, but qualified in six events and scored in 15 events, racking up points all over the board.

James Vincent Taylor won the long jump (22-5 ½), beating five challengers over 21 feet in the event. D’Marco Millis earned the regional crown in the 300 hurdles (39.9).

Rochester’s Brian Beecher won the 800 (1:59.2) and teammate Blake Pozolo the 3,200 (10:01.2), surging ahead from a tight pack in the fifth lap to win by six seconds.

“I was trying to stay with (the pack) as a long as I can, but I felt the pace dropping, so I just went with 800 to go and no one went with me,” said Pozolo, who did not qualify last season. “I’ll go to states and just try to run my best.”

Phillip Washington, the defending state champion in the 400 meters, cruised to a win in a blistering 47.8, finishing well ahead of three other qualifiers.

Washington came back to win the 200 (21.9) and teamed up with Jeff Aririguzo, CJ Brathwaite and Jalen Campbell for the victory in the 800 relay (1:29.2). Louis Duranda won the shot put (54-5 ½) by nearly five feet for the Lakers.

“I tell myself that it’s not an easy win,” said Washington, who said he felt comfortable in the final 100. “I still have to run my hardest even though I have the lead.”

Detroit Henry Ford’s Malcom Morris sprinted to the win in the 100 (10.8), while North Farmington’s Shammah Carter took the 110 hurdles (15.0).

Brother Rice defended its regional crown in the 3,200 relay, as the unit of Joseph Kraus, Pat Nodland, Thomas Giradot and Torin Wile combined for an 8:11.7 clocking. Levi Richards won the discus (141-4) for the Warriors.

Birmingham Groves capped the meet with a win in the 1,600 relay (3:27.9), with Blake Jackson, Phillip Johnson, Dominic Morris and anchor Ross Williams edging Southfield (3:27.9) at the finish line.

Southfield’s Brandon Watkins, Jonathan Heard, Leviticus Payne and Cedric Hill won the 400 relay (43.1), Birmingham Seaholm’s Jack Howard surged ahead to win the 1,600 (4:31.1), Berkley’s Justin Peguese was victorious in the high jump (6-3) and Harrison’s Kevin Lapinski took the pole vault (12-4) to round out the individual winners.

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Category: High School, High School (M-Z), Prep Wraps

About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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