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West Michigan Conference 2022 boys track preview: Team-by-team capsules

Depth and talent make Whitehall the favorite, but Hart eyeing a strong push.

Whitehall junior David Conrad works on the pole vault during a practice March 21, 2022, in Whitehall, Mich. Conrad has already broken the school record this season with a height of 15 feet.

The boys track and field season is already underway for West Michigan Conference teams, but it begins in earnest now that spring break is in the rear-view mirror.

Whitehall has the depth and talent across the board to be a decided favorite to repeat as conference champion, and achieve more beyond that, but don’t count out Hart.

Here are preview capsules of the 2022 season in the conference based upon info submitted to CatchMark. Teams are arranged alphabetically:

Hart junior Kellen Kimes, left, poses for a photo with Dick Hasty after Kimes broke Hasty’s school shot put record that stood for 61 years. Kimes’ heave of 52 feet, 10 inches, bettered Hasty’s mark of 49-8.

HART PIRATES

Coach: Ken Kimes (2nd season at Hart, 22nd year overall)

Last year: Second place in the West Michigan Conference

Key returnees:

Kellen Kimes: Shot put, discus (broken school records already this season in the discus at 162 feet, 11 inches and shot put at 52-10).

Clayton Ackley: 1600, 3200

Noah Bosley: 1600, 3200

Seth Ackley: 1600, 3200

Wyatt Dean: 400, 800 (has a shot to break school record in the 800)

Easton Vanderswagg

JoseLuis Andeverde

Revin Gale: Pole vault

Hunter Chaffee

Caleb Westerbeek: 300 hurdles

Blane Bromley

Austin Bowen

Josef Bromley

Mason Contreras: High jump

Key newcomers:

Kaden Bond

Eman Hertzler

Max Stitt

Austin Martinez

Zane Thomas

Connor Edwards

Season outlook:

Ken Kimes believes the Pirates will make a run for the West Michigan Conference championship. “I think our season will go great with a possible top-three team placing at the state meet,” he said. “We won our first invitational (of the season) at MCE, scoring 64 more total points than the second place-finishing team.” Hart has strong distance runners, but Kimes pointed out that with regionals so close to the conference meet, sometimes tough decisions have to be made whether to compete fully or hold off a bit for regionals.

Mason County Central’s boys track and field team poses for a photo in the 2022 season. (Courtesy of Mason County Central boys track and field)

MASON COUNTY CENTRAL SPARTANS

Coach: Patrick Nelson (3rd season)

Last year: Third place in the West Michigan Conference

Key returnees:

Andrew Quinn: Throws (runner-up in shot put at Division 3 state finals)

Ethan Wood: Pole vault, long jump, sprints (state qualifier in pole vault and long jump)

Jeremiah Patterson: Jumps, sprints

Russell Schade: Middle distance

Max Nichols: Hurdles, sprints

Gavin Shirey: Distance

Key newcomers:

Hunter Sanford: Distance

Kenton Spyker: Sprints

Quintin Lange: Jumps

Season outlook:

The Spartans have more depth than previous seasons. According to Nelson, their strength will be in the field events and sprints. Mason County Central will be looking to improve in the middle-distance events. The Spartans should be in contention for another top-half finish in the West Michigan Conference this season.

MONTAGUE WILDCATS

Coach: Terry Fick

Last year: Fourth place in the West Michigan Conference

Key returnees:

Dylan Everett: Sprints, long jump (state qualifier in 100, 200 and long jump)

Silas Jancek: Throws, sprints

Cale Coppess: Middle distance

Clay Johnson: Distance

Rodney Brassfield: High jump

Kevin Roll: Pole vault, long sprints

Kendall Degan: Pole vault

Andrew Kooi: Long jump, sprints

Gabe Lohman

Vincent Maginity

Marshall Short

Key newcomers:

Adam Baird: Sprints, relays

Isaiah Atchison: Long sprints, relays

Brody Dietz: Sprints, relays

DaCarri Williams: Sprints, relays, high jump

Paul Olson: Sprints

Zach Henderson: Pole vault, relays

William Neubauer: Hurdles

Joe Winkleman: Throws

Tristan Winkleblack: Pole vault

Riley Mulder: Middle distance

Aydan Everett: Sprints, throws

Alex Dravesid: Distance

Hunter Phipps: Middle distance

River Jarka: Sprints

Kaden Priese: Throws

River Slamkowski: Sprints, throws

Diego Velazquez: Throws

Tyler Risch: Sprints

Jason Randall: Sprints

Trent Benninger

Talan Degan: Sprints, long jump

Jack Degan

Season outlook:

Montague’s numbers are up this season. The Wildcats lost to graduation a couple top throwers in Walker Martin and Chris Kessler, plus their top distance runner in Kaden Hainer, but they boast a strong group of sprinters led by Everett and should still be strong in field events. “I think just going out and competing every meet will make for a good season,” said Fick, who will be assisted by Craig Graham, Justin Dennett, RJ Nordlund, Chelsea Binder, Joe Brunsen and Dick Smith.

North Muskegon girls and boys track and field team members pose for a group photo during the 2022 season. (Courtesy of North Muskegon track)

NORTH MUSKEGON NORSEMEN

Coach: Al Karaba (33rd season)

Last year: 2-5 dual record, sixth place in the West Michigan Conference meet

Key returnees:

Kelty Blastic: 100, 200 (all-conference last season)

Jude Meldrum-Roy: 1600, 3200 (all-conference last season)

Jack Erne: 800, 1600

Parker Maciejewski: 1600, 3200

Evan Atkinson-Miller: 800, 1600

Logan Tyson: 400, 800

Season outlook:

North Muskegon’s numbers are good with more than 20 athletes. Karaba said that a lot of young athletes need to fill spots to help the Norsemen compete in the league. He noted that the Division 3 regional meet at Montague will be a season highlight.

OAKRIDGE EAGLES

Coach: Dominic Taylor (1st season as head coach, 2nd overall)

Last year: 2-4 dual record, fifth-place finish at West Michigan Conference meet

Key returnees:

Gavin Anderson: Pole vault, sprints

Spencer Anderson: Hurdles (high point-scorer last season)

Blake Armstrong: Middle distance

Derek Driscoll: Throws

Lorenzo Garcia: Sprints

Aiden Hascher: Middle distance

Christopher Knapp Jr.: Sprints

Aidan Rios: Throws

Iceton Shappee: Throws

Justin Smith: Distance

Christopher Swarts: Sprints

Michael Thompson: Sprints, long jump

Season outlook:

Taylor said the Eagles are excited for the season, as they have nearly double the roster numbers over last year. Oakridge should be able to have someone compete in each event. Taylor hopes the Eagles can be competitive in West Michigan Conference duals this season as well as improve their final conference standing over last year.

Ravenna’s boys track and field team poses for a photo during the 2022 season. (Courtesy of Ravenna boys track and field)

RAVENNA BULLDOGS

Coach: Katie Tumele (4th season)

Last year: 1-6 dual record, seventh place in the West Michigan Conference

Key returnees:

Grant Becklin: Sprints, long jump

Hunter Hogan: Sprints

Isaiah Kooiman: Sprints

Rafael Barcenas: Distance

Clay Schullo: Sprints

Matthew Anton: Middle distance, distance

Nathan Kooiman: Sprints

Key newcomers:

JJ Houseman: Middle distance

Issac Korson: Sprints

James Lemke: Middle distance

Ulrich Heinreichsberger: Sprints

Season outlook:

Tumele said the Bulldogs are excited to be “somewhat back to normal” after COVID-19 made such in impact on track seasons the last two years. Sprints should be one of Ravenna’s strengths, while Tumele also is looking forward to seeing how her relay teams perform. She believes the Bulldogs’ relays can compete at the top of the conference.

SHELBY TIGERS

Coach: Geoffrey Kies (4th season)

Last year: Eight place in the West Michigan Conference

Key returnees:

Nicholas Baffi: Sprints

Ricardo Bahena Jr.: Sprints

Hayden Bowen: 400, high jump

Colby Dawson: Throws

Issac Scouten: Throws

Abel Still: 400, 300 hurdles

Joseph Foster: Throws

Key newcomers:

Benjamin Cederquist: Sprints

Levi Cooley: Sprints

Jonathan Carballido: Distance

Bishop Lee: Throws

Chase Mero: Sprints

Season outlook:

Kies said the roster number is a strength this season, as the Tigers have 26 boys out for the team. They’re looking to shore up hurdles and select field events. Overall, the goal will be to improve each meet leading into conference and regional meets.

The 2022 season marks the 28th year for Kirk Mikkelson as Whitehall’s boys track and field coach. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

WHITEHALL VIKINGS

Coach: Kirk Mikkelson (28th season)

Last year: 7-0 in duals, first place in the West Michigan Conference, Division 2 state runner-up and regional runner-up

Key returnees:

David Conrad: Pole vault

Wesley Russell: Throws

Landen Snay: Sprints, long jump

Nate Bolley: Long jump, sprints, middle distance

Malcolm Earvin: Sprints

Red Watson: Sprints

Riley Buys: Distance, middle distance

Jack Houtteman: Middle distance, distance

Carter McIlroy: Distance

Andre Richmond: Distance

Logan Sines: Hurdles, sprints

Zander Brown: Sprints

Lukas Palmer: Jumps, sprints, middle distance

Graycen Shepherd: Sprints, throws

Micah Witham: Pole vault, middle distance

Ca’Mar Ready: Jumps, sprints

Key newcomers:

Camden Thompson: Jumps, hurdles

Kal Koehler: Long jump, sprints

Trannon Aylor: Jumps, sprints

Finn Muller: Distance, middle distance

Season outlook:

With its depth and talent across the board, Whitehall will be considered the favorite to repeat as West Michigan Conference champion and beyond. Mikkelson has been coaching a long time and he’s enjoyed a lot of success, but he said this could be one of the Vikings’ best teams ever. “We have really good athletes, who are already breaking school records or approaching them,” he said. “The attitude and work ethic is convincing me that this group wants to do great things. The younger guys are stepping in immediately and filling the gaps left by the graduating class of last year.”

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