BY DAN STICKRADT
HOLLY TWP. — A week ago, Lake Orion scored an impressive 139 points at its Division 1 track regional. The effort wasn‘t even enough to keep the Dragons’ unbeaten season intact.
Lake Orion had a chance at some redemption Friday night and was more than vindicated with its sterling effort.
Competing against over 50 schools at Friday’s Oakland County Championships at Holly High school, the Dragons had more than enough firepower to stand alone at the top.
Lake Orion won five events, recorded three runner-up finishes, one third-place showing and two more fourth-place finishes — the top eight in each event scored points — and amassed an impressive 102 points, one of the highest point total in years, to win the 53rd annual event by a wide margin.
Southfield was a distant second with 47 points, while Auburn Hills Avondale (46), Birmingham Detroit Country Day (42), Waterford Mott (32), Novi Detroit Catholic Central (32), Walled Lake Western (29), West Bloomfield (26), Walled Lake Central (22) and Rochester Adams (20) followed closely behind.
Novi defended is girls county meet crown with 89 points, well ahead of Country Day’s 46 points. Birmingham Seaholm (44.5), Southfield (43), Rochester Adams (38), Farmington (29), Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (28), Farmington Harrison (27), Walled Lake Central (22) and Oxford (20) rounded out the top 10.
Lake Orion’s boys, which won its first county championship since 1993, were firing on all cylanders — and then some.
“We had a nice group of athletes when we won in 1993,” recalled veteran Lake Orion coach Stan Ford. “But this is a better team. We have a lot of speed on this team, depth in the distances and some decent field events people. Winning this meet is a big deal, because it doesn’t happen very often that you even have a group of kids that can put you in contention to win it. We had a great opportunity this year and I’m proud of this group for stepping up.”
The Dragons simply doused the competition.
When senior Nick Balavich crossed the line as anchor of the winning 1,600 relay quartet, which clocked 3:20.98, he let out a loud scream. The Dragons’ message had been received, as they will enter the Division 1 state meet as one of the five top favorites.
“This was one of our goals all season long, to win the county,” smiled Balavich. “We have some great athletes on this team and we decided at the beginning of the year to come together as one and it showed again.”
Alex Roberts won the long jump (21-3) and 300 hurdles (38.99), Balavich anchored the winning 1,600 and 400 relay (42.62) units and TJ Carey ran a personal-best time of 9:23.96 to win the 3,200 by eight seconds to help pace the Dragons’ vaunted attack.
Not to be outdone, Avondale’s Kyle Redwine won the 100 (10.69) and 200 (21.6) dashes and anchored the winning 800 relay (1:28.03), where he edged Lake Orion’s Balavich at the finish line. Avondale’s Nathan Chapman added a win in the 800, as the University of Michigan prospect, ran a sizzling 1:54.64 to hold off Holly’s Luke Scherwin down the stretch.
“That was the best 800 race of my life. It felt great,” said Chapman. “All season long I have been running the 400 and 800 and at the regional I had like a 14 minute break (between the two events). That’s not enough. I ran it fresh at the county and I broke our (school record).”
Milford won the 3,200 relay (7:55.63), Birmingham Groves’ Ross Williams held off a deep field to win the 110 hurdles (14.47) and White Lake Lakeland’s Garret Zuk cruised to the win in the 1,600 (4:18.95), as county athletes shined in all events.
Country Day’s Jabril Mims won the 400 (48.94), Walled Lake Western’s Jacob Janke took the pole vault crown (14-0), Southfield’s Chris Phillips won the high jump (6-2), Waterford Mott’s Chris Saikalis the shot put (56-5.5) and Walled Lake Central’s Cullen Prena set the county meet record in the discus with a 185-6 heave.
In the girls meet, Novi won just one event, but the Wildcats scored early, often and in most events to win by 43-point landslide. Novi’s sole win came in the 400 relay (49.15).
Seaholm finally loaded up its 3,200 relay and that foursome clocked 9:17.84, one of the faster times in county-meet history, as the Maples’ distant crew racked up points.
Harrison’s Laticia Sims won both the 100 hurdles (14.44) and 300 hurdles (44.59), Southfield’s Latipha Cross the 400 (55.98) and 200 (25.86) and Country Day’s Brittany Mann the shot put (43-6) and discus (157-8), which is third-best nationally for high school girls, as the trio all finished as double winners.
Bloomfield Hills Lahser’s Elena Miller, who also plays lacrosse, won the 3,200 (10:53.61), while Southfield Lathrup’s Keianna Ingram won the high jump with a 5-6 effort.
Farmington’s Aaron Howell had the top leap in long jump (18-4.75) and Holly’s Rachel Domagalski won the pole vault (10-0) — four competitors cleared that height but Domagalski won on fewer misses at lower heights.
Ortonville Brandon’s Tiffani Owens blazed the field to win the 100 (12.06), Country Day won the 800 relay (1:41.97) and Oxford’s Brooke Kovacic pulled away to win the 1,600 (4:57.5).
“We all took it easy, didn’t run the (3,200 relay) and we decided to just run one event,” said Kovacic. “I wanted to after my PR in the mile and I came close. But I just wanted to have a good race and not run three events, so I can be fresh for the state meet.”
Notre Dame Prep’s Sara Barron set the county meet record in her 800 (2:09.58), while the Fighting Irish ended the meet with a win in the 1,600 relay (3:56.73), another effort that ranks among the all-time bests at the prestigious event, now in its sixth decade.
“It was an awesome race,” admitted anchor Taylor Timko, also one of the state’s better sophomore soccer players who does double-duty in the spring. “I knew I could not let my teammates down, I had to go all out.”
To submit information to www.northoaklandsports.com, e-mail email@example.com. To advertise, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow us on Twitter @LocalSportsFans and more than a dozen other social media networks.
FOR MORE TRACK COVERAGE: http://northoaklandsports.com/?s=track&x=14&y=11
Have photos or video of this event that you wish to share? E-mail pertinent information to www.northoaklandsports.com Senior Editor Dan Stickradt at email@example.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Category: Auburn Hills Avondale, Auburn Hills Christian Acadamy, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, Clarkston, Clarkston Everest Catholic, Featured Articles, High School, High School (M-Z), Holly, Lake Orion, Most Recently Updated Stories, Ortonville Brandon, Oxford, Pontiac, Pontiac Academy of Excellence, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep, Prep Wraps, Rochester, Rochester Adams, Rochester Hills Lutheran NW, Rochester Stoney Creek, Top Stories, Troy, Troy Athens, Uncategorized, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes