Photos by Tate Stine | CatchMark
ADA — Several athletes represented the West Michigan Conference in the MHSAA Division 2 track and field state finals under the scorching sun Saturday at Forest Hills Eastern’s Hawks Stadium.
A few athletes repped the conference and their schools extraordinarily well.
Whitehall junior Trannon Aylor led the way in that regard, gliding to an individual state championship in the 400-meter dash. Aylor was one of a handful of male and female athletes from the league to garner all-state accolades with top-eight finishes at the state finals.
Three other Whitehall athletes finished runner-up in their respective events: Senior David Conrad in pole vault, senior Maelie Hope in discus and sophomore Camden Thompson in high jump.
As a team, Whitehall’s boys finished fourth with 33 points. Corunna took the title with 41 points, followed by Mason and Forest Hills Eastern tied for second with 35 points apiece.
Whitehall had high hopes this season, establishing a clear goal of winning a team state title. The Vikings fell just shy at last week’s MITCA team state finals with a runner-up finish after they caught a bad break with an injury to senior standout Nate Bolley.
Whitehall veteran coach Kirk Mikkelson had no reason to be upset with how his athletes performed, however.
“You can’t be mad, you just can’t,” Mikkelson said. “It’s a tough field. You look at some of the times and they’re better than (Division 1) times.”
On the girls side, East Grand Rapids captured the team championship with 50 points. Sturgis was second (34), while Mason, New Boston Huron and Otsego were tied for third (26). Whitehall was 18th (14).
Aylor was the No. 1 seed in the 400 and he established another personal record with a winning time of 48.83 seconds. Aylor also anchored Whitehall’s third-place 4×400 relay team including Lukas Palmer, Jack Houtteman and Malcolm Earvin (3:25.57), and he finished eighth in the 200 (24.03) to be a three-event all-stater.
Whitehall’s 4×400 relay team had its fill of thrill and theatrics. In the last 100 meters, Spring Lake anchor Tanner Guczwa was leading all other runners, but he was tripped by another runner’s foot, causing him to fall in the final stretch.
Grand Rapids Christian’s Jordan Rodgers pulled into the lead, followed by Hastings’ Kearan Tolles and Whitehall’s Aylor, who had to redirect his course in the final stretch, causing him to lose a few steps to Rodgers and Tolles.
In the high jump, Whitehall’s Thompson matched up against other high-flying competitors. He was one of eight jumpers to hit the 6-foot, 5-inch mark. After more than three hours of high jumpers being eliminated, Thompson squared off with Alma junior Jacoby Dunlap, who had already missed all three jumps at the 6-5 mark but was granted another attempt when a coach pointed out the bar was not level.
Dunlap then cleared 6-6 and 6-7. Thompson went on to match Dunlap in both jumps, soaring to 6-7. Neither jumper was able to clear 6-8. The tiebreaker would then go in favor of Dunlap, who was able to clear 6-7 in two fewer attempts than Thompson.
Whitehall’s Hope finished runner-up in discus with a toss of 133-1. She placed fifth in shot put (38-6) and set a new PR in the 100 to finish in seventh place (12.37) and become a three-event all-stater.
Whitehall’s Conrad placed runner-up in pole vault (14-1), three spots ahead of Ludington senior Trey Forfinski (personal-record 13-7).
Fremont junior Sean Pettis set a new PR in the 1600 (4:17.05) to finish fifth. Fremont senior Gary Springstead also established a personal-best with a seventh-place finish in the 400 (50.39).
Fremont junior Daniel Romero fell just outside the top eight with a ninth-place finish in the 300 hurdles.
CLICK HERE to see all results from Saturday’s MHSAA Division 2 state finals.
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