OHS girls run away with Frostbite
Portager boys take fourth; Brethren squads finish ninth

by Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate
Friday, April 13, 2012

ONEKAMA — With the finish line just in front of her, and the competition even closer behind, Onekama freshman Keena Gilbert kicked up her pace.

Down that final straightaway during Friday’s 1,600-meter run, she fended off a charging Maddy Danz of Traverse City St. Francis by two seconds. And after the win, a barely-winded Gilbert looked like she could have kept running.

“She said today after she finished that she didn’t know where that came from,” Onekama coach Bonnie Brown said. “She just found another gear.”

It seemed as though Gilbert and the Portagers were in another gear all day as they ran away with a team win at their own annual Frostbite Invitational. The Onekama girls won eight events Friday and garnered 171 total points to top the 10-team field, including a pair of Division 3 schools. Traverse City St. Francis placed second with 128 points while Brethren placed ninth. In the boys competition, Onekama placed fourth and the Bobcats ninth.

“All these girls, they’ve got the drive to win,” Brown said of the reigning Division 4 regional champion Portagers. “They want another regional championship and it looks like they’re on their way.”

Gilbert was a two-event winner Friday with a victory in the 3,200-meter run as well, while sophomore Nisha Collins won the long jump and was part of the winning 400-meter relay squad with teammates Alyson Fink, Breanna Fink and Meredith Hengy. Onekama’s Faith Moerdyk tied for first in the high jump.

Senior Jaylee Brown paced the Portagers, however, with a trio of first-place finishes, winning both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles as well as the pole vault.

“I don’t think we thought we’d be as far along as we are at this point of the season,” Jaylee Brown said after taking a victory lap with her teammates at event’s end. “We’re all pumped and I’m glad to be a part of it.

“We’re doing better than I expected I think,” she added, citing that the early-season test against some future league and regional foes was a good measuring stick. “It’s good competition for us, and I’m sure it’s good for them to see where we are. We’ll all be using each other as we go.”

For the Brethren girls, coach Melissa Baker said the strong competition at Friday’s Frostbite was certainly beneficial for the Bobcats.

“It’s good to go up against the big teams,” she said. “It can only help us fare better when we go up against our conference.”

The Bobcats were paced by a third-place finish in the 800-meter relay, consisting of Emily Krause, Ashleigh Maier, Mia Sacksteder and Haley Wade.

The pair of Division 3 schools topped the boys field as Lake City took first with 150 points and Suttons Bay placed second with 96. Onekama (76) was fourth, just behind West Michigan D League foe Big Rapids Crossroads Charter Academy’s 82 total points.

Onekama coach Anthony Torres listed a number of personal records for his squad, as the team was paced by Drew Slevin’s first-place finish in the high jump.

“I’m very happy with the kids. No complaints here,” he said. “Especially early in the year, they’re running really good times.”

Torres was also pleased his squad could get an early look at some impressive opponents.

“We had some great competition today, obviously Lake City and Suttons Bay are both Division 3 schools and then you have Crossroads, a conference team,” he said. “It gives a good chance to see what we need to tweak to hopefully improve. But overall I thought the kids did awesome.

“I love it when we have big invitationals. It gets our guys working that much harder against all these schools. Everyone goes up another level.”

Brethren was paced by Andrew Darling on the day with a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles.

“Things went well today,” Bobcats coach Travis Walker said. “You’ve got some bigger schools here, and I think our kids held their own. When you look at the couple teams from the conference here, we fared OK.

“We had a couple good performances, but we had some guys gone again that would have made a difference,” he added. “It’s good to see (the competition), especially with a small team. You want your better runners to be pushed. It’s good for them to see what sort of pace they need to keep up with in order to be successful.”    (Results for OHS, KND)

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