Girls track roundup: Oak Park lands 3rd straight D1 crown
While much of the attention was on Oak Park’s Anna Jefferson heading into Saturday’s Division 1 girls track and field finals at the Hudsonville Athletic Complex, the story of Oak Park’s three-peat victory was more about the rest of the team.
With 81.5 points, Oak Park knocked off runner-up Ann Arbor Pioneer (64) and third-place Northville (50). East Kentwood (48) and Brighton (26) rounded out the top five.
“I saw a lot of resilience today,” Oak Park coach Brandon Jiles said. “The last couple years have been runaway victories and this year was a dogfight. During the break we had a meeting. I told the girls things aren’t going to be perfect, but we’ve got to keep fighting.”
Jefferson qualified for only one final — the 400 meters. She finished third with a 54.43. Northville’s Chloe Abbott won with a 53.10, beating Jefferson’s two-year old record by two tenths of a second.
In the 100 hurdles, an event Jefferson did not qualify for after clipping a hurdle and nearly falling, Jiles said it was up to Brianna Holloway, who nearly didn’t qualify for the event herself.
“The other girls knew that they had to have each other’s back,” Jiles said. “She (Jefferson) had a rough day and the other girls picked her up.”
Holloway took second, with a 14.69, less than half a second slower than Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Britten Bowen, who took first with a 14.08.
“We found out that she made it in, and Anna didn’t make it and it was like ‘You’ve got to make up for your teammate,’ ” Jiles said. “She really stepped up to get second. She stepped up and showed what seniors are supposed to do. I was proud of her for coming back.”
Holloway wasn’t done. She won the 300 hurdles in 42.71, which topped Christienne Linton’s (Romulus) 2009 record of 42.86.
“It feels pretty good,” she said. “I’ve been trying to get the record since my sophomore year. I was pretty happy to finally get the record my senior year.”
Jiles said he was proud of the two-time state champion in the event.
“It’s been a long time coming for her,” Jiles said of the record. “She put it on the track today.”
In the 800, Oak Park’s Dorriann Coleman — a sophomore — knocked off Pioneer’s Alice Hill, who was previously undefeated. Coleman finished with a 2:10.20, while Hill crossed in 2:10.61.
“That was a huge moment for us,” Jiles said.
He praised Coleman’s toughness, after coming back from patella tendinitis earlier in the season.
“She’s really tough,” Giles said. “I told her to believe in herself and go for it. She’s one of those kids who will go to the line for you. Dori showed a lot of toughness, a lot of grit and a lot of fight.
Coleman’s father ran track at Detroit Denby and Michigan State.
“Running is something she was born to do,” Jiles said.
Oak Park sprinter Tamea McKelvy ran away with top-five finishes in a pair of events. She placed second in the 100-meter dash with a 12.11 second finish and third in the 200 with a 24.25.
“We knew what she was capable of doing,” Jiles said. “It was just about her getting on the track and showing she was one of the best runners in the state.”
Oak Park’s 400-meter (46.28) and 800-meter (1:36.66) relay teams both set state records on Saturday.
“We knew we had the speed to run those times,” Jiles “But we hadn’t had the competition all year. You’re not going to run records unless you have someone pushing you.”
Lansing Waverly won the D2 title with 42 points, besting Flint Powers Catholic (40), Romulus (31), Grand Rapids South Christian (26) and Zeeland East (24). Harper Woods Chandler Park’s Jada Steele won the 100 hurdles with a 14.68.
Ithaca won the D3 championship with 57.5 points. Adrian Madison (54), Traverse City St. Francis (46), Clare (45) and Pewamo-Westphalia (29) rounded out the top five. Avery Jones (Ann Arbor Greenhills) took second in the 100 with a 12.44.
Fowler, with 56 points, took home the D4 title. Southfield Christian finished in eighth with 23 and was the only Metro Detroit team in the top 10. Chika Amene finished sixth in the 400 with a 1:00.09.
Al Willman is a freelance writer