Oxford — Connor Bandel plans to continue his assault on the state record book during the final week of his senior season at Oxford.
Bandel, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, has the build of a linebacker and the strength of one, too. He is the defending Division 1 state champion in the shot put (59 feet, 7.5 inches) and discus (175-02).
On Friday, Bandel set the state record in the shot put with a toss of 67 feet, 21/2 inches in the Oakland County track and field championship at Waterford Mott to surpass the former record held by Allendale’s Zach Hill (67 feet, 1/2inch) in 2009.
How big was Bandel’s improvement in the past few weeks? Bandel was spectacular on senior night earlier this month when he had a throw of 65-1, which was a personal best by a foot, before surpassing that at Oakland County meet.
“There was three days in a row last week where I threw a 68, a 67-6 and two 67-9s,” said Bandel of his tosses in practice prior to the Oakland County championships.
Bandel is ranked second nationally in the discus, but says he feels no pressure heading into Saturday’s Division 1 state meet at Hudsonville. He signed with Florida last November so he could concentrate on his senior year. He has a 3.3 GPA and plans to major in chemical engineering.
“He’s a kid from early on who decided what he wanted to do, set a goal and was willing to ask coaches, ‘What does it take for me get there?’ and then applied it,” Oxford coach Matt Johnson said of Bandel.
Johnson said longtime Oxford coach George Schraut has been a factor in Bandel’s development.
“George has been around 38 years as a shot and discus coach and he’s put more kids in college than anyone I know,” Johnson said. “He’s here with the kids who want to lift in the summer and Connor’s always leading the pack.”
Schraut said Bandel’s best throw in the shot was 59 feet at the end of his sophomore year, but getting him to lift weights was the reason he was able to reach the next level. He topped the previous school record of 60 feet, 7 inches set in 1966 by former Michigan kicker Mike Lantry.
“Connor and I had issues his first two years,” Schraut said. “I push people if I see a lot of potential. I push and some kids don’t respond to it. Toward the end of his sophomore year he finally realized what I was trying to do. His technique has always been good, but he finally decided to lift weights and that made a difference.”
Schraut said Bandel really started maturing early his junior year when he broke Lantry’s record, then went on to win state titles in both the shot put and discus.
“I’m not always a master motivator, but I have my ways,” Schraut said. “We had an issue last year which flicked a switch in him and he matured 10 years. Really, Connor makes Connor special. He wants something and goes out and gets it. He’s put a lot of work in to get where he is today.”
Bandel said he now benches 275 pounds. He was proud of his other gains as well.
“My biggest improvement was in my lower body, like cleans and squats,” Bandel said. “My clean went from 215 to 275 and my squat from 335 to 405.”
Bandel is a three-sport athlete. He was outstanding in soccer, posting 11 shutouts his senior year and 46 for his career, second most in Oxford history. He also played basketball.
“My philosophy, which is sometime conflicting with my coaches, is that I don’t ever try to throw safe,” said Bandel. “I always try to get it out as far as I can. Sometimes, my coach would like me to be overaggressive, even when the situation doesn’t dictate for that. I’m really looking to go in, get some good marks and then after I get some good marks really expand on my throws and see if I can get one out there.”
Bandel’s best discuss toss was 204 feet in the Oxford Invitational. In the regional, he missed three throws just right of the vector, which he felt went 215 feet.
Now, Bandel has his sight set on the discus record set of 210-1 set by Walled Lake Central’s Cullen Prena in the 2013 Division 1 state meet.
“At the state meet, I’d really like to get the state records,” Bandel said. “The state record in the discus...I think I can get it. I definitely think it would take the right conditions. It has to be dry. And the wind could play a factor because if I have a wind at my back I’d have to get it a lot higher or it might knock down the discus.”
Mercy’s Krzywiecki closing in on records
Farmington Hills Mercy senior Abby Krzywiecki is closing in on setting multiple state records for home runs.
Krzywiecki smacked her 17th homer of the season over the weekend to pull within one of the single-season state record set by Romeo’s Madison Jones last year.
Krzywiecki now has 45 career homers, fourth all-time behind the state record of 49 shared by Addison’s Erika Underwood (2012-15) and Belding’s Taylor Johnson (2007-10).
Mercy will play a handful of games this week with a doubleheader at Utica Eisenhower Tuesday, a doubleheader at home Thursday against Walled Lake Northern and a Division 1 district game against Farmington Hills Harrison Saturday at 10 a.m. at Livonia Stevenson.
Holloway, Oak Park eye state titles
Oak Park will lead the way in the Division 1 state meet Saturday at Hudsonville in the hurdles.
Senior Brianna Holloway is the defending state champion in the 300-meter hurdles (43.50 seconds) and senior Anna Jefferson should enter the meet as the one to beat in the 100 hurdles following her time of 14.1 in last week’s regional.
Holloway is excited for the opportunity to repeat.
“Everything’s going great right now and I’m excited to compete,” Holloway said. “I wanted to finish my senior year strong and have a good time with the hurdles and so far I have. My best time this year is 43.6 so I haven’t reached my expectations yet, but I still have time.”
Holloway decided she will attend college and run at Ohio State last month.
“I really love the coaches there and felt comfortable,” said Holloway, who has a 3.3 GPA and plans to major in business management.
Anna Dixon, So., C, Farmington Hills Mercy
Dixon hit her first two career home runs Monday in the Catholic League A-B Division softball championship game to lead Mercy to a 10-0 win over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.
By the numbers
45: Career home runs by Farmington Hills Mercy senior Abby Krzywiecki, four off the state record.
5: Consecutive Catholic League A-B Division baseball titles won by Birmingham Brother Rice after its 5-1 win over Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Thursday at Comerica Park.
13: Players on Saline’s baseball team who are hitting .300 or better.
“Connor makes Connor special. He wants something and goes out and gets it. He’s put a lot of work in to get where he is today.”
— Oxford shot put and discus coach George Schraut on state shot put record holder Connor Bandel.