BY DAN STICKRADT
GRAND RAPIDS — At the conclusion of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, there is the one shining moment — a brief recap of the three weeks of madness. For Auburn Hills Avondale, its one shining moment finally came Saturday afternoon on the grand oval.
Or more appropriately — one crowning moment.
The Yellowjackets, after two top-five finishes at the Division 2 boys track and field state finals, were crowned a state champion. Avondale, third at the state meet last year and fifth in 2010, rose to the top of the charts Saturday at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids.
Avondale rolled up 47 points to win the title. Lansing Sexton was second (40), followed by Chelsea (38), Alma (36), Grand Rapids Christian (28), Zeeland West (21), Cedar Springs (20), Linden (19), Zeeland East (18) and Williamston (18) in the top 10.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment,” said first-year Avondale coach Wes Harden. “We had some great performances today. I took the seeds and scored it out the other day and I had Lansing Sexton winning with 39 points. We had 34 points after the 400 and I figured that we would still score in the 800 and 4×400. We were in good position at that point to contend.”
Avondale won three events on the day and placed in six total events en route to the team title.
Kyle Redwine won the 100 meters in a blistering 10.53 seconds and joined Henry Paul, Myles Wright and Jeff Douglas on the winning 400 relay (42.83).
Nate Chapman broke the tape in the 400 (48.71) and came back as part of the grueling middle distance dual to place fifth in the 800 (1:58.07). The foursome of Chapman, Douglas, Wright and Redwine also finished fourth in the 800 relay (1:29.69).
Redwine was disqualified in the 200 meters at the regional two weeks earlier. That mishap turned out to be a blessing.
“It actually helped us having Kyle not run the 200,” offered Harden. “I originally thought that we’d miss those points if he won, but it gave him more of a break without all of the extra prelims and semifinals. We were able to put him in the (1,600 relay) and we ended up winning the race.”
Avondale’s foursome of Geoffery Williston, J.T. Ozerities, Chapman and
Redwine placed second in the 1,600 relay (3:24.16), good for eight more points to clinch the meet title — the school’s second state title this school year. Avondale also won the D-2 boys soccer state title in November, a team led by Chapman.
“We have some very talented seniors,” said Harden, who had four of his team’s seven seniors competing at the meet. “I think we were better this year than last year. Picking up Redwine and a few others this year made a big difference. We know we lost 3-4 really good athletes, but we picked up some new kids and we were able to finally win the title.”
Avondale won all but two of its events this season, earning second at the Oxford Invitational and third at the Oakland County meet. They were 4-0-1 in duals and won league and regional titles.
“We were up there at every meet this season,” said Harden. “This is a great way to end a great season.”
Pontiac Notre Dame Prep was the only other area school to score at the meet. The Fighting Irish claimed two points off Jacob Romeo’s seventh-place finish in the 100 (11.06).
DIVISION 4: Auburn Hills Avondale scored two points on the day thanks to Drew Perrin’s seventh-place finish in the long jump (20-10.75).
Albion won the team title with 49 points with Muskegon Western Michigan Christian earning second (36). Big Rapids Crossroads Academy was third (35), followed by Climax-Scotts (28), Hesperia (24), Reading (24), Litchfield (23), Addison (21.5), Sand Creek (21) and Lutheran Westland (19) in the top 10.
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