Otsego girls use depth to secure regional championship
Allegan’s Hannah Antkoviak left the Division 2 girls’ track regional at Sturgis on Friday, May 17, with multiple first-place medals. The same for the Plainwell duo of Mackenzie Hill and Makenna Veen.
Otsego, meanwhile, didn’t have any athletes claim multiple first-place medals. In fact, the Bulldogs didn’t earn any first-place medals.
That, however, didn’t stop Otsego from excelling in the team standings.
Utilizing their depth, the Bulldogs racked up 95 points to claim first-place honors by four points over runner-up Vicksburg.
Plainwell was third with 86.5 points, followed by Hopkins in fourth with 57 points. Allegan placed sixth in the 14-team field with 52 points.
“I think the thing that stands out the most is that we won a regional championship and never finished first place in a single event,” Otsego coach Justin Scott said. “I would have to imagine this is a pretty rare feat, and it is a huge testament to our depth and the overall quality of our team. We may not have a standout single performer, but we have a ton of girls who work really hard and perform at a high level.
“Sometimes track and field, when you get to these big meets, is slanted to favor teams with one or two all-star kids. I am proud of our kids for putting in a team effort and winning a championship together.”
The decision over Vicksburg reversed the results from the Wolverine Conference Championship six days earlier, when Otsego finished second by 1.4 points.
“It was a crazy day,” Scott said. “We knew heading in that it would take an entire team effort to win, and that is exactly what we got. Vicksburg is a really strong team and after losing to them by less than two points a week ago, I would be lying if I said revenge wasn’t a strong motivating force for our girls.
“It was a back and forth affair all day, and things were up in the air right up until our final girl crossed the finish line.”
While Otsego didn’t win any events, the Bulldogs did finish with three runner-up finishes and five third-place showings.
Kaelyn Arlington earned Otsego’s lone individual second-place finish, doing so in the shot put with a distance of 31 feet, 5.5 inches.
“Kaelyn has only been on our track team for two years after an injury ended her softball career,” Scott said. “She is a fierce competitor and a tremendous leader. I couldn’t be happier for her to be seeing some individual success.”
The 4x100-meter relay team of Briahna Mosher, Abie Sullivan, Ella Moyer and Macy Proctor (52.79) and the 4x800 relay team of Sydney Kubiak, Joy Wolfe, Claudia Stachura and Kristen Brylowski (9:59.7) also finished runner-up.
Otsego’s third-place showings went to Adriana Morgan in the 400 (1:03.69), Wolfe in the 3,200 (11:45.07), Mosher in the 100 hurdles (17:18), the 4x200 relay team of Sullivan, Morgan, Isabella Hanley and Proctor (1:51.62) and the 4x400 relay team of Brylowski, Sullivan, Kubiak and Morgan (4:16.57).
As good as Otsego was as a team, Antkoviak was equally good as an individual.
In addition to winning both the 100 hurdles (15.29) and the 300 hurdles (46.38), she also won the long jump at 16-3. And that wasn’t all, as she also anchored the Tigers’ 4x200 relay team that posted a 1:51.53 to finish second.
Plainwell, meanwhile, got individual wins from Hill in the 800 (2:22.61) and the 1,600 (5:13.4) and from Veen in the 3,200 (11:13.01).
“These two girls are fierce competitors,” Plainwell coach Matt Evers said of Hill and Veen. “They love running track and they cannot wait to compete. This season these two have been responsible for scoring just short of 400 points in total and they have consistently bested their times throughout the season.”
The pair also made up half of the winning 4x400 and 4x800 relay teams. Luisa Ruettinger and Lydia Bacon were also part of the 4x400 team that ran a 4:14.4, while Kennedy Vanderlugt and Morgan Try were also part of the 4x800 relay team that posted a 9:56.54.
“Mackenzie is a special runner because her focus is not on running fast or getting certain split times,” Evers said. “She shows up to compete and nearly every time she rises to the level of the competition and then surpasses it.
“Makenna has had injury issues the previous two seasons but not this year. She has reset her own school record in the 3,200 twice this season and I hope for once more yet.”
Joslyn Miller was second for Plainwell in the pole vault at 10-3.
Only Hopkins’ Savannah Emaus finished ahead of Miller in the pole vault, clearing a height of 10-3. Evangelina Helderop provided the other win for the Vikings, winning the 400 at 1:01.09.
Helderop was also second in the 200 at 27.39 and Emaus was fourth in the long jump at 15-2.5.