Friday was a day of firsts for the Harper Woods Chandler Park boys track and field team.
It won its first Wayne County championship, 196-148, over second-place finisher Dearborn Divine Child, and freshman Rapheal Bell, running the 100-meter dash for the first time, won the event in 11.49 seconds — a county freshman record.
“He just surprised everybody,” Chandler Park coach Paul Zelmanski said. “Jaws were hanging when he ran.”
He said Bell has been running the 400 all season, and only ran the 100 Friday because Chandler Park’s sprint team has been ravaged by injuries.
“He’s come out of nowhere,” Zelmanski said.
Senior Davion Williams won the 110 hurdles, finishing in 15.76 seconds.
“He’s been undefeated in the hurdles and will be heading to the state finals, as well,” Zelmanski said. “He’s been improving every year and he’s one of the top contenders for the 110-meter hurdles.”
The Chandler Park girls, on the other hand, won their third straight title with 196 points. Riverview Gabriel Richard was second with 134.
Senior Jada Steele led the charge. She set a meet record in the long jump, going 17 feet, 7.5 inches.
“She’s got the state leading jump going into the long jump in the state finals,” Zelmanski said of the three-time all-stater, who will be attending the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the fall on a track scholarship.
Shatira Gaines won both the 100 and 300 hurdles, with times of 17.30 and 49.85, respectively.
“She’s just been that way all year,” Zelmanski said of the senior, who will be participating in the 800-meter relay at states. “She just came through today and had the meet of her life. It wasn’t even close.”
Gaines finished with a nearly four-meter lead in the 100, and almost 10 in the 300.
“She had a great day,” Zelmanski said.
He said his underclassmen, who have been flying under the radar all season, may prove to be a factor at states — including the boys 800-meter relay team. Three of the four runners are either freshmen or sophomores.
“Our freshmen and sophomores really stepped it up,” Zelmanski said. “It’s a good thing for the future for us.”
Al Willman is a freelance writer