Dylan Savela, Manistee News Advocate
May 31, 2012
Aside from the huffing and puffing that typically thins the air around the finish line, Onekama’s 400-meter relay team held its breath at a regional in Brethren earlier this month.
The Portagers’ Alyson Fink, Breanna Fink, Meredith Hengy, and Nisha Collins weren’t worried about qualifying for this Saturday’s state finals; they took care of that by winning the race for a regional crown.
What they waited for, however, was the official word that they broke an Onekama school record in the event. It took longer than the race itself to make sure, but when girls coach Bonnie Brown confirmed as much, the four team members celebrated with a longwinded group hug.
What they didn’t realize then, but know now, is that their blazing time of 51.56 made them the top-seeded 400-meter relay team in Division 4 at this weekend’s finals in Jenison.
Though the favorites in their event, they aren’t the only Portagers vying for a state title. The Onekama girls will send 11 athletes to compete in 12 events Saturday, including other top-10 seeded members Jaylee Brown (second in pole vault); Hengy, Collins, Breanna Fink and Alycia Peterson (sixth in 800-meter relay) and Collins (ninth in long jump).
“I’d like to consider us the favorites in all the events,” Brown said of her team with a laugh, acknowledging that the 400-meter relay squad’s top seed is a nice accolade, but certainly doesn’t guarantee a state title.
“This is the best year we’ve had as far as state goes,” she said of sheer representatives as well as high seedings. “But anything can happen, especially in the relays. Last year, (the 400-meter relay team was) seeded like 16th, but ended up eighth with a school record. You never know what’s going to happen, you just have to have your game faces on.”