by Dylan Savela, Manistee News
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.”