BY DAN STICKRADT
ORTONVILLE — It’s not every day that a team can score 139 points at a track regional and finish second — and still trail the leader by 33 points.
Such was life at Friday’s marathon Division 1 regional track and field regional at Ortonville Brandon.
Grand Blanc’s boys amassed an impressive 172 points to topple the 15-school field to win its third straight regional crown, ahead of runner-up Lake Orion’s 139 points.
Two of the state better teams this season, the two powerhouses were so far ahead of the rest of the pack that third place Swartz Creek only scored 46 points. Rochester Adams was fourth (40.75) and Romeo finished fifth (36).
“We knew Lake Orion was very good,” admitted Grand Blanc coach Ed Stanbury, whose team captured its seventh regional crown in the past decade. “They scored a lot of points on us in the hurdles. We got them in the field events, where I think we scored more than I thought we would. We also had some incredible finishes, which I think could make us a top-10 team in the state, maybe top-five. I think we’ll be up there.”
Lake Orion boys coach Stan Ford was not upset with his team’s runner-up finish.
“We ran a great meet, Grand Blanc was just a little better,” said Ford. “As a coach, all you can ask of them is to get better and we got better in a lot of events. We set three school records and came close in a couple of others. We had a great day, but not enough to win.”
In the girls meet, Rochester Adams defended its regional title to win its seventh overall in school history. After scoring only 89 points at last year’s event, the Highlanders rolled up 122 points to outduel host Brandon, which collected 88.5 points. Romeo was third (63.5), Oxford fourth (62) and Rochester Stoney Creek fifth (55).
According to Adams coach Eric Lohr, the Highlanders were far from perfect.
“We knew how good Brandon was and we didn’t have a great day. Last Friday at the league meet, everything went right for us,” said Lohr. “This week we had a lot go wrong for us, yet we still found a way to win big. I am proud of the way we competed as a whole. We had a couple of (mishaps) with a girl falling at the finish line. But we had a couple of other girls step up and score where I didn’t expect.”
Some of the state’s best efforts were recorded throughout the meet, led by Adams’ Jamie Morrissey won the 800 (2:13.9) and placed second in the 1,600. Heather Johnson added a win in the 300 hurdles (46.5), while Jessica Howell the long jump (17-9.25).
Adam won only three events total, but had five runner-up finishes, a pair of third-place finishes and a trio of fourth-place showings.
Brandon shattered numerous school records and showcased its exceptional talent in the sprints, which led to wins in five of the 17 events.
The Blackhawks’ 800 relay quartet of Tiffany Owens, Jayona Dent, Anna Fochesato and Kierra Johnson clocked 1:42.9, one of the state’s best efforts. Owens later won the 100 (11.7) and 200 (24.8) and joined Maddie Pierce, Dent and Johnson for a 49.2 showing in the 400 relay.
Fochesato also won the high jump (5-4) for Brandon.
“Our sprinters did an exceptional job. We set a bunch of school records and we had a lot of girls step up and have great performances,” said Brandon coach Greg Hyde, who noted that this is the best team in school history. “We had some great performances in the field events, too. Adams just has too much strength in the distance races. That’s where they beat us.”
Oxford’s foursome of Jessica Murphy, Brook Kovacic, Chelsea Johnson and Brittany Johnson won the 3,200 relay in a blistering 9:26.82, as school records, track records and events with multiple additional qualifiers were commonplace at the loaded meet.
Kovacic came back to win both the 1,600 (5:02.8) and 3,200 (10:55.0) runs for Oxford.
“This is the first time we ran the four of us on the relay since early in the season,” said Kovacic. “I know we ran faster than last year. We hope to go faster at the state meet.”
Romeo’s Natalie Peterson won the 100 hurdles (15.3) and teammate Sloane Brunner the shot put (36-4.5).Port Huron’s Monica Fusee won the pole vault (11-6) and Fenton’s Kira Rentschler the discus (114-11).
Grand Blanc’s Tere Cooley broke the tape in the 400 (57.0) and joined Selena Joyner, Claudia Smale and Kayla Ergen on the winning 1,600 relay (4:01.8), an event which ended close to 10:30 p.m.
The boys meet belonged to the showdown dual of Grand Blanc and Lake Orion, which suffered its first defeat of the season after four invitational-style meet wins this season.
Lake Orion won five events on the day. The foursome of David Arenz, George Modrak, TJ Carey and David Diaz led five team qualifiers in the 3,200 relay, cruising over the line in a swift 7:57.09.
Lake Orion’s Alex Roberts won the 110 hurdles (14.5), just ahead of teammate Charlie Mauer (14.6), and came back to win the 300 hurdles (38.7). Corey Easter clocked a career-best 10.8 to win the 100 meters, while he joined forces with Joe Deneau, Diaz and Nick Balavich on the winning 1,600 relay (3:21.7), which posted another one of the state’s better efforts.
The Dragons were also second in the 800 relay (1:28.5) and 400 relay (42.8).
Grand Blanc’s Stefon White, Parker Wheatley, Damonta Madden and Jalen Cureton ran a blistering 1:28.2 to win the 800 relay, while Jamil Banks, Cureton, Maddon and Alton Yarbrough blasted to a 41.9 clocking in the 400 relay, another state-leading effort.
Freshman Drake Gautheir broke his school record with a 48.8 showing in the 400 meters and took second in the 800, an event won by Holly’s Luke Schwerin (1:54.9). Grand Blanc’s Hadden came back to win the 200 (21.9).
Fenton’s Matt Gilbert won the 1,600 (4:21.1), leading six qualifiers, while Rochester’s Blake Pozolo pulled away in the 3,200 to win in 9:215.8, leading a pack of 11 state qualifiers .
Clarkston’s CJ Gozdor won the high jump (6-3), Oxford’s Cody Westmoreland the pole vault (12-10), Swartz Creek’s Kevin Miller the shot put (55-0) and Holly’s Colin Banes had the best toss in the discus (147-11) to round out the individual winners.
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