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Super sophomores power Hart’s girls track and field team to second straight state title

Addi Hovey and Jessica Jazwinski each win an event, place top-8 in 3 others as Pirates defend MHSAA Division 3 title.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

KENT CITY – Hart sophomore Addi Hovey has tried to convince classmate and All-American runner Jessica Jazwinski to play basketball. Meanwhile, Jazwinski has been working on getting Hovey, an all-state basketball player, out for cross country.

“Actually, I used to be a basketball player, but then I kind of just decided I’m going to do indoor track. Nothing can beat running for me,” said the bubbly Jazwinski, who was the MHSAA Division 3 individual state champion in cross country last fall. “I just decided not to do basketball, but (Hovey’s) trying to convince me – and I’ve tried to convince her to do cross country, but I don’t know about that one.”

When it comes to track and field, Hovey and Jazwinski meet in the middle. Good thing for the Pirates, too.

Hovey and Jazwinski powered Hart to a second straight MHSAA Division 3 track and field state championship and third in six years Saturday at Kent City High School. Each of them captured an individual title while also earning all-state distinction in three other events with top-eight finishes.

Hart totaled 64 points to hold off runner-up Olivet (56.5). Lansing Catholic was third (46), Hillsdale fourth (46) and Jackson Lumen Christi fifth (31). Other West Michigan Conference teams that scored points at the state finals included Manistee with 12.5 (17th place) and Ravenna with 11 (tied for 18th).

“It’s so fun because me and Addi are such good friends. She’s such a good athlete in track and in basketball, so it’s so fun to just, like, have that on the same team,” said Jazwinski, who won an individua state title in the 3200-meter run while Hovey took first in high jump. “Distance running and jumping, they’re not even close to the same sport so to have that, it’s really, really cool.”

Photos courtesy of Katie Jazwinski

The 5-foot-10 Hovey, who was an Associated Press Division 3 first-team all-state basketball player and helped the Pirates advance to the state semifinals in the winter, cleared 5 feet, 4 inches in winning the high jump Saturday. Earlier this season, she posted a mark of 5-11, which ranked her fifth nationally.

Hovey also placed third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.53 seconds, and she ran a leg on Hart’s third-place 4×100 relay (50.78) and seventh-place 4×200 relay (1:49.32).

“It was fun,” Hovey said. “A lot of our older teammates put all the effort into (this season) and in the end I think it really paid off for how hard we worked this season. I’m really proud of us.

“I mean, I wish I did a little better in the high jump, but it’s really hot out so that has its side effects. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how I did perform.”

Jazwinski, who finished 11th in the Champs Sports Cross Country Championships in San Diego in December en route to All-American accolades, was at the front of the pack in the 3200 Saturday with a time of 10:57.99.

Jazwinski also placed second in the 1600 (4:58.86) and third in the 800 (2:16.22), plus she helped Hart score valuable points on the fourth-place 4×800 relay team along with Lexie Beth Nienhuis, Abigail Pretty and Alyson Enns.

While the super sophomores carried a heavy load for Hart, Jazwinski stressed that it was a team effort. For example, Enns scored much-needed points with a third-place finish in the 3200 (11:14.89) and sixth-place showing in the 1600 (5:07.18).

Joining Hovey on the point-scoring 4×100 relay were Aspen Boutell, Savanna Owens and Addison Hain. Hovey teamed with Boutell, Hain and Laura Bitely on the 4×200 relay.

Meanwhile, Hart’s 4×400 relay team of Bitely, Owens, Pretty and Boutell placed seventh (4:14.27) to score points with all-state status.

 “I’m super excited just because, like, I know all the girls so well and we’re all such good friends,” Jazwinski said. “This year, we actually have so many girls qualified for state that have never qualified before and just to see everybody improving, it’s so amazing. Just to contribute to that, I’m super excited about that.”

Running tradition has been strong at Hart for a number of years. The girls cross-country program won five straight MHSAA Division 3 state titles (2017-2021) and the Pirates placed fourth in the fall of 2022.

Expectations are high across Hart’s cross-country and track programs. Even though athletes graduate each season, the next group comes in prepared to carry on that tradition.

“This one was more nerve-racking (than last year) because the expectations were a little more there. Last year was more maybe a bit of a surprise,” said Hart coach Calvin Ackley, whose 2022 track team won the MHSAA state title by a more comfortable margin than this season’s squad.

“They did great. They knew how to be champions because they were last year. I remember telling them last year halfway through the season that if they look around the room, this is probably the best team in the state and none of them told me they didn’t believe it at that time. This year I didn’t say anything because I think they just knew they were right up there.”

With leaders like Hovey and Jazwinski returning for two more years, who knows where the Pirates can go from here.

Success breeds success. While basketball has always been Hovey’s No. 1 sport, she’s more open to the possibilities that may arise through track and field.

Without a doubt, this track special was special for Hovey, Jazwinski and their teammates.

“Like, you know, we’re such a small school but our community really helps us out and I think everyone on our team understands how fun it is to, like, be a good program and a lot of our team likes to put work in,” Hovey said.

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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