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Spring sports preview: boys track and field

Duncan MacLean • Mar 21, 2019 at 12:47 AM

Grand Haven

Last year: Third place at regional, third in O-K Red

Key returners: Mason Mahacek, Andrew Ireland, Cole Rowden, Seth Taylor, Ethan Peters, Alex Kauffman, Eli Nelson

Team strengths: Depth, high jump, distance

Areas to improve: Hurdles, throws

Head coach Joe Nelson: “We are pretty excited to get here and see where we are. Our numbers and depth will be an asset for us this year. We have 100 boys on the team right now. Mason Mahacek is going to be big in the field for us and probably run some on relays. We want to get more running out of him, so between that, the pole vault, high jump and sometimes long jump he will be busy.

“The distance crew is pretty solid and deep. (Andrew) Ireland and (Cole) Rowden are leading a few more young guys that are coming along. So we are excited about that group.

“The high jump crew of Mason, Drew Dallman and Joe Pastello are all jumping over 6 feet. There are years when we can’t even touch that.

“Seth Taylor is returning from our state meet 4x400 relay, Ethan Peters should be an asset around the 200, along with Eli Nelson in the pole vault. We’ve got a lot of pieces all over and some depth to play with. That’s something we haven’t had in a while. It will let us move kids around and try to maximize points against teams.

“We’ve got some young throwers, but they are improving and we are excited about the improvements they have made. We need to develop and get better there and on the hurdles. We can make a lot of gains this year in those two areas. We are short on numbers in the hurdles, so I’m sure coach Takas will fund us some good hurdlers and develop them.

“We’ve got 100 kids, everyone is doing a great job and working hard and helping each other. We have seniors leading like they should. It’s kind of surreal.

“We need to compete in that top half of the league. Rockford and East Kentwood are still going to be tough, but we want to be competitive with them and finish right with them and in the process qualify as many as we can for the state meet.”

Spring Lake

Last year: Fourth O-K Blue Conference

Key returners: Andrew Hylen, Ben Hylen, Emmanuel Wilson Gabe Tardani, Jaden Barnes

Key newcomers: Carter Phillips, Hunter Throop, Travis Throop

Team strengths: Distance running

Areas to improve: Field events

Head coach John Coughenour: “We’re officially 59 or 60 boys strong, so we have some numbers to work with. Not all new blood either, we have some freshman and some new 10th-graders come out who will help us right away.

“The distance and mid-distance runners will carry us, no question. The Hylen guys are back, Carter Phillips is a freshman middle-distance runner who will be a stud. We will see this year or next year, but he’s got it.

“Emmanuel (Wilson) got a great start to his long jump today, Dawson Nash will lead us in the high jump, Gabe Tardani is an underclassman, but if he stays healthy he will be one of our speedsters, and Jaden Barnes will have to carry the mail for us, as well.

“We are young in the field. We will have to improve there. We are strong in the runs, but if you can come out of the field with a lead that makes you tough to beat.

“We want to compete well in the conference and regional. We are always trying to move up in the O-K Blue and will send some kids to state by the end of the year.”

Fruitport

Last year: Second O-K Black, 14th Division 2 state

Key returners: Brenden Deneen, Jon Wildly, Ethan Flores, Cameron Weaver

Team strengths: Mid-distance

Areas to improve: Throwing, depth

Head coach Chad Brandow: “We are rebuilding. We’ve got four or five All-Staters coming back and a few more good pieces. We have some strength, but don’t have much depth and that is a different animal for us. We only have about 40 kids this year. Usually, we have 45 or 50 or so and 24 really good ones. The number of really good ones is down, but we have been spoiled the last couple of years.

“Brenden Deneen is a two-time All-State guy coming back, our high jumper, Dakota Mitchell, won today at 6-2, Cameron Weaver went 20-4 in the long jump today, Jon Wildly is returning from our All-State 2-mile relay and is a good 2-miler himself. Ethan Flores would have won the hurdles today, but he stumbled on his final hurdle. We have some power, just not much behind it.

“We’ve got to get our throwers to come around. I think we can hopefully get that done. Our best throw today was 36 feet. In order to compete you have to be at 46, so we have to come up with 10 feet. None of those kids really have throwing experience, so that will come.

“We usually like to have everything put together by the city meet, but I don’t think anyone has anything for Reeths-Puffer this year. We’ve got a couple of months to piece it together, so we will see.”

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