Rockford — Often a track meet is about vindication. Lose one race, an athlete has the opportunity to win the next.
Overriding whether one wins or loses is the competition. If you know you’ve done your best, and pushed yourself to that finish, an athlete can finish second and still come out a winner.
Distance runner Ben Hill of Royal Oak and hurdler Mike Carey of Birmingham Brother Rice displayed courage and determination at the Division 1 boys track and field championships on Saturday at Rockford. One finished first, the other second to a familiar rival.
East Kentwood won the team competition for the fifth time in the last six years. It finished with 71 points, Oak Park was second with 50, Saline was third with 37, Grand Blanc and Traverse City Central tied for fifth with 25 and Warren DeLaSalle placed sixth with 23.
Ben Hill of Royal Oak, for the second consecutive year, finished second to Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc, the state’s top distance runner, in the 3,200-meter run.
Hill held the lead until the last turn when Fisher caught and passed him.
For Mike Carey of Birmingham Brother Rice the role was reversed as he trailed in the 300 hurdles halfway through. Carey caught his competitors and won with a personal-best time of 38.07. Antoine Lloyd (38.14) of East Kentwood finished second and Robie Webster (38.36) of Ypsilanti Lincoln was third.
Last year as sophomores Fisher won this event with a time of 9:04.33 and Hill was second (9:06.89). This time Fisher finished with a time of 9:07.11 and Hill came in with a time of 9:09.34.
“He’s in great shape and I am, too,” Hill said. “I wanted to go under nine (minutes). I took off, and I didn’t want to go off too fast. In the end I was too slow. It was a good finish. It was the best part of my race, I think. I probably raced against him four or five times. It’s been a good rivalry between us. We both put in hard training. I know he brings out the best in me. I don’t know if he’d say the same.”
Last year Carey didn’t even place in the state meet. He took third at the Oakland County meet on May 23. This time Carey didn’t hold anything back.
“It’s an unreal feeling,” he said. “I was neck and neck with two other kids. I just wasn’t going to lose. I had to attack (the hurdles). Once I got up on (Lloyd), I wasn’t going to lose it.
“The competition. That’s what made the difference. And I like to run in the heat. And it hasn’t been that hot this spring.”
Carey is undecided on what college he will compete for in track in the fall but said Memphis, which offered him a scholarship, is leading the list.
“It’s hot down there,” he said.
Fisher was one of the top athletes to compete on Saturday but, after suffering an injury 2½ weeks ago, Fisher had to go through extensive rehabilitation, most of it in a swimming pool, to be able to run on Saturday.
And the injury, to his right ankle, occurred on a soccer pitch. Fisher is a member of the under-17 travel soccer team, the Michigan Wolves.
Last season Fisher finished second in the mile and on Saturday he took first with a time of 4:15.769. T.J. Carey of Lake Orion won last year with a time of 4:15.763.
Last December Fisher won the Foot Locker Cross Country national championship in San Diego with a time of 15:07.
Oak Park had one of its best team finishes in decades and sprinter Eli Minor was a big reason.
Last year, as a member of Inkster High’s team, Minor placed third. Inkster High is now closed.
Minor, who signed with Eastern Michigan, ran the second leg on the 200 relay and though Oak Park held the lead after three legs it lost to East Kentwood.
Minor came back to anchor the 400 relay and this time Oak Park won with a time of 41.47. Minor was in second place two meters behind Grand Ledge’s anchor, Ba Blamo.
“I was really motivated to win after finishing second,” Minor said. “I had to do it for my teammates. I got the baton the adrenaline was there. If you’re in front of me, I’m going to catch you.”
Minor’s teammate, Maurice Allen, took first in the 200 and 400. His time in the 400 is a personal best 48.13. His previous best was 48.3.
Josh Holloman of Auburn Hills Avondale won the 100- and 200-dash, and ran anchor on the 800 relay team that placed third, but Avondale couldn’t overtake Zeeland West for the team title.
West scored 50 points to win the team competition held at Houseman Field in Grand Rapids. Avondale placed second with 40 points, Byron Center was third with 38 points and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s fourth with 24.
Holloman’s time in the 100 was 10.75 and his time in the 200 was 22.21
Jason Tran of West won the 300 hurdles with a time of 38.79 and placed second in the 110 hurdles.
St. Mary’s won the last event of the day, the 1,600 relay, with a time of 1:29.18. Sophomore Tyler Cochran ran anchor on a team comprised entirely of underclassmen.
Anthony Fitzgerald of Melvindale won the high jump (6 feet, 9 inches) and the long jump (23 feet, 1 inch).
Sanford-Meridian took first with 45 points in competition held at Comstock Park. Scottville Mason County Central was second with 39 points, Hillsdale third with 33 points and Lansing Catholic fourth with 29.
Sanford-Meridian took first in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays. Kevin Scheibert placed third in the 400 and ran on all three winning relays.
Jaylen Ghoston of Madison Heights Madison won the 400 with a time of 48.17.
Concord took first at Hudsonville with 78 points. Saugatuck was second with 46 points, Southfield Christian placed third with 36 and Genesee fourth with 25.
Nolen Bright-Mitchell of Concord won the 100 dash with a time of 10.7 and the 200 with a time of 21.62.
Southfield Christian (Nicholas Mitchell, Aldred Williams, Mitchell Jones and Blake Washington) won the 400 relay with a time of 44.22.