Lansing Catholic Boys Win State Athletics Title

KENT CITY — As the Division 3 Athletics Finals entered the home stretch on Saturday, Lansing Catholic coach Tim Simpson took a look at the boys standings. According to him, the championship would probably come down to the 4×400 meter relay.

He wouldn’t have scripted it any other way.

“The 4×400 relay is our biggest thing,” Simpson said. “That’s what we talk about all the time. So when all the chips fell into place and we said, “We have to win the 4×400 to win (the state title),” I said, “Well, we’re going to win.”

The coach’s words were prescient: the Cougars won the 4×400 relay – their lone victory of the day – to beat Saugatuck by a single point, 38-37, and claim the state championship.

And Lansing Catholic won the decisive race spectacularly and spectacularly.

Trailing Hamady High after the second leg, senior David Pruder pushed Lansing into the lead in third. He passed the baton to fellow senior Josh Otten, who finished in style to give the Cougars the victory in 3:25.91 – the team’s season best time in the race.

When Pruder took the lead, Simpson knew victory was near.

“I watch him stop and pass the (leading guy),” Simpson said, “and I turned around and said, ‘It’s over.'”

After the presentation of the trophy, the whole team ran around the track, the plaque brandished in the air. Leading the festive jog were the two championship showpieces, Otten and Pruder.

Besides the relay team victory, Otten placed second in the 400-yard sprint (with a personal best time of 50.19) and third in the 1600 meters (another personal best of 4:20.37), while Pruder finished third in the 800 meters. , with a personal best of 1:56.78. The men’s 4×800-metre relay team of Owen Spence and Stephen Fair, along with Otten and Pruder, also took second place with a time of 8:13.15.

“It’s awesome,” Otten said. “Last year I had an OK (performance) in state, but this year I’m really, really happy with what I did today.”

Otten even thought that if the day’s schedule had done him a favor, he might have come away with gold in the 400m, where he lost to Evan Green of Richmond by four-tenths of a second. This run immediately followed the 1,600, which had taken its toll on Otten.

“My legs were still recovering halfway through the 400m,” he said. “It was hard. But I’m not at all disappointed with the way I did.”

Saturday’s triumph marks the second state championship for Lansing Catholic’s men’s track and field program, 10 years after its first title in 2012.

The Pewamo-Westphalia women’s team missed out on their third straight state crown. (PW won the 2019 and 2021 championships, while the 2020 event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.) The Pirates finished Saturday with 39 points, which wasn’t enough to top Hart’s 63. High.

Despite not finishing atop the team standings, PW coach Scott Werner said he couldn’t fault the girls’ effort on Saturday.

“Every team is different,” Werner said. “It’s a new team. It’s different from last year. We have a lot of new faces. A lot of kids got to experience the national final for the first time. They are reaching the level we expect.”

In this file photo, Saige Martin of Pewamo-Westphalia clears the final hurdle winning the women's 100-meter hurdles at the honor track meet at Waverly High School on June 1, 2021. Martin won the 100-meter hurdles races and 300 meters in the Division 3 State Finals on Saturday at Kent City.

Few have risen to the occasion like Saige Martin. In last year’s state finals, Martin, then a freshman, finished second to a senior runner in the 100-meter hurdles; she finished third, behind two other seniors, in the 300-meter hurdles.

With those upper-class men gone, Martin rose to the top of both events on Saturday, posting career-high marks (15.23 in the 100m, 46.24 in the 300m) in each race.

Those finishes last season, she said, boosted her self-esteem. But it was a double-edged sword: Entering both races as heavy favorite, the second-year star admitted she felt the pressure to perform on Saturday.

“You definitely think about it, of course,” she said. “It’s really internal. But you also have to believe in yourself, like, ‘I know I can do this.’ You play a lot of mind games with yourself.

Yet she is never alone.

“Support is what really drives me: your friends, your family, your teammates, your coaches. When other people support you, it makes you feel really good.

Another remarkable person who more than lived up to the massive expectations around her was Lani Bloom from Ithaca. A Purdue signee, Bloom won four regional titles heading into the state final. But she only ran two events on Saturday – the 800 meters and the 1,600 meters.

She won both with ease, clocking season best times in both: 2:11.86 in the 800m (runner-up Madison Osterberg of Jackson Lumen Christi finished in 2:16.01) and 4 : 49.60 in the 1600m (her closest competitor was Hart’s Audrianna Enns, who finished in 4:56.71).

Bloom admitted it would have been a disappointment not to win both events. But she also said it wasn’t as easy as she made it out to be.

“There are so many amazing girls in Division 3,” she said. “It’s so intense. It’s really a great honor to win, but I was going to try to be happy no matter what.”

Although she entered as the fourth seed in the 3,200 meters, Bloom did not participate in the event. She wanted her teammate, Rachael Sierakowski, to star.

“She deserves to shine as much as I do,” Bloom said of Sierakowski, who placed eighth in the event. “I just wanted to celebrate her.”

Behind Lansing Catholic, the second-best zone finisher in the boys’ standings was Pewamo-Westphalia with 30 points, which was good enough for fourth place.

Ovid-Elsie had 10 points, thanks to Tryce Toker’s victory in the pole vault. Laingsburg scored nine points, highlighted by Jack Borgman’s third-place finish in the pole vault.

Aside from PW, the only school in the region to place in the top 10 in the girls’ standings was Ithaca, which finished sixth with 27 points.

Contact Ryan Black at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @RyanABlack.

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