Connect with us

Athlete Profile

Whitehall’s fleet-footed and humble duo ‘in a very elite group’

Veteran track coach Kirk Mikkelson expects Vikings’ Malcolm Earvin and Trannon Aylor to finish strong at state finals.

WHITEHALL – Trannon Aylor and Malcolm Earvin are among the fastest runners to have competed for veteran Whitehall track and field coach Kirk Mikkelson in his nearly three decades at the helm.

More impressively, they may be two of the more considerate young people that Mikkelson has been around.

Sure, Aylor and Earvin have personal goals to chase as their glittering high school track careers end in this Saturday’s MHSAA Division 2 state finals at Hamilton High School. But one goal supersedes any other.

“Winning a state title for coach Mikkelson,” Earvin said when he was asked the perfect way to end his Whitehall career.

“Coach Mikkleson is one of the coolest coaches on earth: Always is positive and uplifting to everyone and he is truly a great coach and someone every kid enjoys playing for,” Aylor said. “Some kids don’t even like track that much but because of coach Mikkleson, they come to run track.”

Last week, Aylor and Earvin were part of the Whitehall High School Class of 2024 that walked in its commencement ceremony at the Viking Athletic Center.

You should watch the Vikings duo run. Mikkelson said that Aylor and Earvin are two of the top 10 runners in Whitehall history “for sure.”

Mikkelson rattled off Whitehall track record-holders Tony Fountain (100-meter dash), Earvin (200 dash), Aylor (400 dash), Jeff DeLong (800 run), Guy Jacobson (1600 run), Martin Schulist (3200 run), Jau Nichols (300 hurdles), and Jeff Cox (110 hurdles).

“I see an amazing group of athletes. Several of them are/were area record (holders). (Aylor and Earvin) are in a very elite group,” Mikkelson said.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Aylor, the 18-year-old son of Jennie and Matthew Aylor, is the reigning MHSAA Division 2 state champion in the 400. He ran the race in a then-personal record time of 48.83 last year at Forest Hills Eastern, then bettered his PR in the 400 with a winning time of 48.49 in the regional at Fremont a couple weeks ago.

Aylor also qualified for the state finals this Saturday at Hamilton in the 200 (season-record 22.68) and in two relays: 4×200 and 4×400.

In addition to his track exploits, Aylor was a standout receiver/kick return specialist and starting safety for Whitehall’s football team that went unbeaten in the 2022 and 2023 regular seasons. He’s still undecided about his college future.

Earvin, the 18-year-old son of Tamara Ealy and Malcolm Earvin, is Whitehall’s record-holder in the 200 with a PR time of 21.70 seconds achieved at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association meet earlier this season. He also won the 100 in the GMAA meet with a PR time of 10.84 seconds.

Earvin qualified for the state finals Saturday at Hamilton in the 100 and 200 and in the same two relays as Aylor: 4×200 and 4×400.

Earvin was a speedster in the slot position for Whitehall’s football team. He has committed to Muskegon Community College for track and field.

Mikkelson said that Earvin is more of a quiet leader, who commands others to follow him with his ability.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

“He is willing to do anything to help the team, including trying the hurdles,” Mikkelson said. “As a person, he is very caring and has a soft side that most do not see. You have to get to know him to see that side of him, but once you get inside his circle, you will find a great human who loves life and those around him.”

As for Aylor, Mikkelson characterizes him as “focused and determined.”

“He is a no-nonsense athlete that is never satisfied with his performance and always looks for ways to improve his races,” Mikkelson said. “As a person, he is the kind of guy who finds a T-shirt for his coach from 1996 and gives it to him. Very thoughtful.”

Aylor and Earvin bring their unique qualities to a Whitehall track and field program that has been dominant over the years, including three more runaway team titles in the GMAA meet, the West Michigan Conference Lakes Division meet, and the MHSAA Division 2 regional at Fremont.

According to Mikkelson, the Vikings would not have accomplished nearly as much the past few seasons without the efforts of Aylor and Earvin. He said they’ve made him a better coach.

If you ask them, however, they give a lot of credit to Mikkelson.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

“Our coach knows what he’s doing and puts together really good lineups,” Aylor said. “We aren’t as strong as we were last year, but I think we have a really good shot at competing at the state finals.”

Aylor and Earvin also are quick to point out the strengths each other possesses.

Said Aylor: “I wish I could possess Malcolm’s natural ability to be good at things as well as his block starts in track.

Said Earvin: “I wish I could have Trannon’s endurance and power. Like, even in the last seconds of a race when it’s the hardest, I know how painful it can be but Trannon makes it look effortless when he gets going.”

The first person to identify the talent in Aylor and Earvin was not Mikkelson, but rather Whitehall assistant track coach Tommy Lauterberg.

Mikkelson said that Lauterberg is Whitehall track’s scout for talent and he saw Aylor’s and Earvin’s potential immediately during football practice.

“They were running wind sprints,” Mikkelson said. “They were keeping up with our fastest kids.”

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

Mikkelson noted that Aylor and Earvin are the types of talents who will rise to the occasion. He believes that when they get to college and train with similar talent around them, they will rise to the occasion.

From preparation in the days and weeks leading up to a meet to the performance on the day of it, track is different from other sports.

“It’s something you can’t prepare for — to stop someone else like you can in football or basketball when you have film,” Earvin said. “With track, you just have to be the fastest person and all that depends on how much work you put in.”

Said Aylor: “I think track is a little different from other sports because you really only have one chance and if you mess that up, it’s over. I could do really good all year but if I don’t perform at regionals, I won’t even be able to make the state meet. It’s very high stakes and intense due to that, which really gets me nervous before meets.”

Aylor and Earvin are both hoping to go out as Whitehall athletes on top of the podium.

Better yet, hoisting an MHSAA trophy over their heads and celebrating with Mikkelson and teammates would be the ultimate for them.

“The perfect way to complete my track and field career at Whitehall would be to just go out and perform to my best ability,” Aylor said. “I obviously want to do things like win a team state championship, win the 400, win a relay event, but not all of that is in my control. I just know that I’ll do what I can to make sure my teammates and I are ready when the time comes.”

Photo by Courtney Jimison | CatchMark

Photo by Malcolm Earvin | CatchMark

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

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in Athlete Profile