Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark
KENT CITY — David Conrad is used to his feet leaving the ground and hurtling himself through the air. After all, the Whitehall junior is a national-level pole vaulter.
In Friday’s Kent City Elite Invitational, Conrad left his feet — and skidded across the finish line. He was a little scraped up, but otherwise in good spirits after his anchor leg on the Vikings’ second-place 4×100-meter relay.
Conrad helped Whitehall capture the team title at the multi-school invite, which was selected as the CatchMark SportsNet Competition of the Week for April 25-30, 2022.
“This is only my second relay ever, third 100 basically,” Conrad said with a smile shortly after the race. “I got to the blue line and this dude was right next to me, so I lean as hard as I could to beat him at the finish and then it wasn’t the finish line — I still had, like, 10 more meters so I kind of, like, skidded to the end, I guess.
“I think there’s too much adrenaline (for him to feel the sting). I’ll probably feel it in a little bit.”
Whitehall’s boys squad racked up 108 points, more than any other team there, to finish atop the large-school standings. Saugatuck, led by sprinting star Benny Diaz, took first in the small-school standings with 82 points.
On the girls’ side, Hart captured the team title in the large-school division with 103 points, as the Pirates edged runner-up Montague (86 points) in that classification. Pewamo-Westphalia finished atop the small-school standings (99 points).
COMPLETE RESULTS: Get all individual and team results at Athletic.net.
Ironically, a West Michigan Conference dual meet between Hart and Whitehall was to be featured in the CSN Competition of the Week, but that contest was postponed to May 9 because of inclement weather.
The boys pole vault event Friday at Kent City was canceled by meet officials because of safety concerns caused by not having lights to jump. Several vaulters, including Conrad, did not have an opportunity to vault.
Among the many impressive performances Friday in Kent City, nobody shined brighter than Diaz, who cruised to victories in four events. The University of Michigan signee, nicknamed “Benny The Jet,” broke meet records in the 300-meter hurdles (39.66 seconds) and 200-meter dash (personal-record 21.57) and he also won the 100 (10.93) and 110 hurdles (14.16).
Hart freshman Jessica Jazwinski captured first place in a thrilling 1600 race, turning in a PR of 5:00.92 to edge senior teammate Audrianna Enns (5:01.42) and Western Michigan Christian senior Abby Vander Kooi (5:01.68). Jazwinski dominated the 3200 with a winning time of 11:06.77.
Whitehall senior Charley Klint enjoyed a big day, winning the 300 hurdles with a season-best time of 51.59 seconds. She also took first in pole vault at 9 feet, second in the 100 hurdles (season-record 17.00) and anchored the Vikings’ fourth-place 4×400 relay.
Other multiple-event winners from the West Michigan Conference included Hart junior Kellen Kimes in shot put with a new PR of 54-3, which broke his own school record, and in discus (160-6).
Montague’s girls team is exceptionally strong in the relay events, as the Wildcats exhibited in this meet. The quartet of seniors Brooke Stark, Maddie Meacham and Natalie Erickson along with junior Lauren Smith took first in the 4×100 relay (51.34). The foursome of Smith, Meacham, Erickson and sophomore Britta Johnson crossed the finish line first in the 4×200 relay (1:49.21).
Montague’s girls squad won a Division 3 regional title and the 4×200 relay team captured a state title in the event, so the Wildcats have very high expectations again this season.
“I think it’s fueling us to stay where we are and PR again this year,” Erickson said. “I think our team wants to place high at state this year. And me? I just want to PR.”
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West Michigan Conference coaches: Please email your results to email@example.com.