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Whitehall boys roll to regional track title, set sights on MHSAA state finals

Vikings captured second straight regional championship and eighth in coach Kirk Mikkelson’s time at the helm.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

FREMONT — The Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association state finals have meant a lot to Whitehall coach Kirk Mikkelson in his three decades at the helm.

However, Mikkelson is a Hall of Fame coach for a reason and he knows what’s best for his team.

With that, following Whitehall capturing a second-straight Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 regional title Thursday at Pine Street Athletic Facility and eighth during his tenure, Mikkelson revealed that the Vikings likely will be declining an invite to next Friday’s MITCA state finals at Berrien Springs.

Instead, they’ll be putting all of their eggs in the MHSAA basket. The MHSAA Division 2 state finals are scheduled for Saturday, June 1, at Hamilton High School. Under that scenario, the Vikings will be able to compete in this Wednesday’s West Michigan All-Star Invitational at Reeths-Puffer without concerns of taxing themselves and it should still give them time to rest and recover for the grand finale at Hamilton.

“We’re actually going to probably decline that invite. We were ranked ninth after this week and then with Hunter (Parsons) going down (with his appendix), it actually drops us to about 13th,” Mikkelson said.

“We’re going to work on getting healthy and focus more on the MHSAA state meet this year. There are some teams out there this year that have phenomenal team-state teams that we think we’d do ourselves a disservice this year and risk injury by going to an extra meet. We’ve got enough people qualified (for the MHSAA state finals) and if we have the right day, we could win that one.”

Whitehall captured an MHSAA Class B state championship in 1986 under Mikkelson’s direction. The Vikings appear to have the team to make a serious run at another state title in a couple of weeks, but they also had a fully capable squad last season and things didn’t fall into place at either the MITCA or the MHSAA meets.

Thursday at Fremont, Whitehall used its front-line talent and depth finish ahead of a very competitive field. The Vikings finished with 105 points.

Hamilton was runner-up with 88 points, followed by Wayland Union in third (81.5), Holland Christian fourth (73), and Allendale fifth (61). From the West Michigan Conference, Fremont made a strong showing in sixth place (57), while Oakridge was 13th (12) and Orchard View 14th (9).

On the girls side, Hudsonville Unity Christian edged Holland Christian in an ever-so-close battle. The Crusaders totaled 100 points to the Maroons’ 99. Hopkins was third (86), Spring Lake fourth (83.5), and Holland fifth (54) to round out the top five. Whitehall was the highest finisher from the WMC in 10th (30 points), while Fremont was 11th (25), and Oakridge 14th (6).

“I love the (MITCA) team-state concept. That’s probably my favorite meet because you’ve got three kids (in an event), they all score, and everybody’s cheering for all three kids and it’s really a special meet,” Mikkelson said. “But the MHSAA is the official state championship and you have to have the horses. You really have to have those kids scoring high to win that meet.

“We had them last year and a couple things didn’t go our way and we didn’t win. This year, we’re going to be in the same boat — if our kids do what they can, it’s possible.”

The aforementioned “front-line talent” starts with seniors Malcolm Earvin and Trannon Aylor, and they performed well in the MHSAA regional at Fremont.

Earvin took first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.88 seconds and he was second in the 100 at 11.11. He also ran legs on Whitehall’s first-place 4×200 and 4×400 relay teams.

Aylor, the defending MHSAA Division 2 state champ in the 400, raced to the regional title with a personal-record time of 48.49. He also finished fourth in the 200 with a season-best 22.68 and anchored the victorious 4×200 and 4×400 relay squads.

Earvin and Aylor are in agreement with their coach’s decision to skip the MITCA meet and focus their energies on giving it all they’ve got at the MHSAA finals.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

“I just trust my coach and I know he’s going to put us in the best situation. If he thinks that’s what’s best for us, I’m going to take his word for it and we’re going to go with it,” Aylor said.

Added Earvin: “I think it will help us in the long run. I think it will give us time to recover so we can try our best at (the MHSAA) states.”

Whitehall junior Camden Thompson, who is still recovering from an ankle sprain, was regional champ in high jump at 6 feet.

Fremont senior distance standout Sean Pettis was a double champion on his home track, running to first-place finishes in the 1600 (4:17.17) and 3200 (9:31.28).

On the girls side, Whitehall senior Arianna Black captured the high jump regional title with a leap of 5 feet, 1 inch, while junior teammate Cami Kraai dug deep for a first-place finish in the 200 with a PR time of 2:20.99.

At MHSAA regionals, the top two finishers in each event plus those who achieve qualifying standards advance to the state finals. CLICK HERE for complete results from the regional meet at Fremont.

It’s been a banner year for Whitehall boys sports with the football and basketball teams both going unbeaten in their respective regular seasons. Both of those squads fell short of their ultimate goals of deep state tournament runs, but the MHSAA track state finals on June 1 present one more opportunity for seniors such as Aylor and Earvin.

“It would mean the world (to win the state title). That’s our goal,” Earvin said.

Added Aylor: “Yeah, that’d be pretty legit and a cool way to cap off our senior season.”

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

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