Pioneer boys track second to East Kentwood at Division 1 state finals
East Kentwood doubled up its nearest competition at the 2009 finals. Though the Pioneers couldn't stop East Kentwood from doubling up its closest competition, it could lay claim to being the closest competition with a second place finish in the MHSAA Division 1 state championships at Rockford High School on Saturday.
"We did great. We got our points where we had to get them," said Pioneer coach Don Sleeman. "On paper we knew what they were on paper, they weren't invincible, but they just had too much...We had a great day, a great super day."
The day couldn't have started much better for Pioneer, as the 3,200 meter relay team of Muhammed Sani, Nick Kern, Adam Kern and Lucas Arias set a school record with a time of seven minutes, 44.42 seconds while taking second place followed by brothers Drake and Carter Johnson placing first and third in the 110 hurdles.
"Our team is doing good right now," Drake Johnson said after winning the 110 hurdles He placed third in 2009 as a freshman. Johnson also "We went out and got second in the 3,200, set a school record, pretty much we just need the whole team to perform today to secure a state title."
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Johnson was Pioneer's lone state champion, but Nate Karr came awful close in the 1,600 and 3,200, finishing second in both. Hewas only beat out by the fastest mile in MHSAA history as Grand Blanc's Omar Kaddurah set a new state record with a time of 4:07.67. Karr set a personal and school record with a time of 4:10.14, more than five seconds faster than his old best and nearly passed Kadurrah on the final lap.
"Characteristically, my biggest strength is the kick, the last 400, so when I was right there on him I knew had a chance. He just pulled away that last 100." said Karr. "It would have been great to come out with a win, but I still got a PR, school record, so I can't really complain."
Karr fell as far as eighth place late in the 3,200, but found a second wind in collecting his second runner up medal.
"He was closing something fierce," said Sleeman. "He was kind of kicking himself for letting himself get that far behind to begin with. In a straight up race I think he would have beet him, but after running that 4:10, his legs were a little tired."
In its first year at the Division 1 level, Dexter finished in eight place, getting an unexpected boost from Jeremy Horner, who came in 20th seeded but finished in third place in the pole vault. Horner's teammate Steve Ferguson took second, the same honor his sister earned in the girls meet.
"I was really looking forward to racing against these guys, it's a lot more competiton and its great," said Dexter's Ben Carruthers, who placed third in the 3,200 and seventh in Division 2 in 2009. "It feels great, this is what my goal has been all year, I wanted to come in to the state meet and run fast and get all state."
It looked as though Ypsilanti would steal a relay victory from East Kentwood in the 1,600 relay. Kentwood, which won the 400 and 800 relays, looked on its way to a sprint realy sweep when on the final leg the anchor dropped the baton.
Though Andrew Hunt - anchoring the team of Elliott Manieson, Austin Sanders and Terrance Moore - was able to improve from sixth to third on the final leg, that was as far as he could take them.
"I knew when he dropped the baton, I had to go now. I got around him clean and got back in the race," said Hunt, who placed fifth in the 300 hurdles. "I'm proud of my teammates, we're like brothers, it was good to get out here and get some competition because we've been running by ourselves."
Ypsilanti finished in 23rd place.
Ypsilanti Lincoln had a pair of all-state performances as the 400 relay team of Kendall Thompson, Clay Holman, George Miller and Marcus Williams placed seventh and Holman took fifth in the 400.
Saline's only points came from its seventh place 3,200 relay team of Nate Martis, Matt Elms, Andrew Barnett, and Andrew Harper. The Railsplitters and Hornets finished in 30th and 48th place respectively.
ALL STATE 3,200 Relay
Muhammed Sani, Nick Kern, Matt Kern, Lucas Arias (Pioneer), 2nd Nate Martis, Matt Elms, Andrew Barnett, and Andrew Harper (Saline), 7th
Drake Johnson (Pioneer), 1st Carter Johnson, Pioneer), 3rd
Nate Karr (Pioneer), 2nd
Nate Karr (Pioneer), 2nd Ben Carruthers (Dexter), 3rd
Steve Ferguson (Dexter), 2nd Jeremy Horner (Dexter), 3rd (Off the radar, came in 20th position)
Clay Holman (Lincoln), 5th
Kendall Thompson, Clay Holman, George Miller, Marcus Williams (Lincoln), 7th
Muhammed Sani (Pioneer), 6th
Andrew Hunt (Yspilanti), 5th Carter Johnson (Pioneer), 8th
Andrew Hunt, Austin Sanders, Terrance Moore, Elliot (Ypsilanti), 3rd