In 2012 the Saline Hornets girls’ track and field team won the regional by 83 points. This year, Lady Hornets won by 114 points – outscoring second place Pioneer, 190-76, en route to Saline’s third straight MHSAA Division 1 regional championship.
The Hornets won in sprints, distance runs, hurdles, throwing and relays. Saline won in every area except jumping, where they finished third.
The Hornets came in as heavy favorites. Head coach Brian Boze credits the team’s seniors for helping the team stay focused and meet the great expectations.
“A day like today is a long day. Our seniors make sure we are ready. They make sure that we’re getting to all our events at the right time. And they make that we stay focused throughout all the ups and downs that can happen on day like this,” Boze said.
It’s the senior leadership, Boze said, that helps incredibly strong junior and freshman classes show their talents.
One of those talented juniors is Quenee’ Dale, who won the 100 meter hurdles championship, finished second in the 100 meter dash, and helped Saline’s 4-by-100 team to victory.
“It feels great to win regional. I’ve just got to focus on getting my time down a little more,” said Dale, who was third at the state meet last year.
Dale won the 100 hurdles in 14.45 seconds. Saline’s Natalie Wysocki was fourth in 15.40. Samantha Dicks was sixth in 16.99. Dale was second in the 100 meter dash (12.33). Amanda Luurtsema (12.86) was fifth and Alana Hollis (12.87) was sixth.
Another junior who had a giant day was Elianna Shwayder. She overtook Huron’s Kennedy Beazley, who stumbled 20 yards from the finish line, to win the 1600 meter run. Shwayder also helped the 4-by-800 relay team to victory. She was second in the 3200 meter run. Like Dale, she qualified for the state meet in three events.
“I just tried to stay with (Beasley). I know she has a mean kick. And then she stumbled and I was able to push past her,” said Shwayder, a cross country regional champion last fall. “I wanted to run a smart race and keep my cool on the first lap. Then I started chasing down the girls in front of me. I felt strong.”
Senior Alyssa Cummings was third in 5:11.20 and freshman Gillian Walter was fourth in 5:17.24.
Saline’s two other victories on the track came courtesy of freshmen.
Hannah Cummings won the 800 meter run. She passed Huron’s Beazley in the final 20 yards to win the race.
“I felt good after the first lap. And when I got to the end, I went to the outside and went as fast as I can,” said Cummings. “It felt really good.”
The other individual on the track
Sophomore Lauren Green was third in the 800 (2:19.46) and made her state cut by .04 seconds. Senior Kristin Green was fifth in 2:15.09. Senior Emily Reyst was 7th in 2:29.
Freshman Gillian Walter’s had Saline’s last individual victory on the track. She won the 3200 meter run in 11:06.95, leading a pack of five Hornets over the finish line – all of whom qualified for the state meet.
Walter came into the race with a personal record of 11:10 and hoped to try to get under 11:00 minutes.
She followed Shwayder around the track for about six laps.
“I was watching my watch for awhile and then said ‘forget about the watch. I’ll try to stay with Elianna.’ I knew she was going to run a good time,” Walter said. “After awhile, I felt good and I knew I could go harder. So I tried to kick it.”
Walter said it felt great to be regional champ.
“I never thought I would get. I don’t even believe it right now,” Walter said.
Also qualifying for the state meet were Shwayder, Abby Rentschler, Alyssa Cummings and Gloria Park.
It wasn’t only the freshmen and juniors picking up wins. In the field, senior Randi Bennett was regional champion in both the shot put and discus. Bennett threw 124-03 in discus to win the event by more than six feet. Freshman Erin Connor was 7th (101-4) and junior Amelia Wittig was eighth (100-11). Bennett, the high school record holder in shot put, won that event with a throw of 38-09. Erin Connor was eighth with a throw of 33-09.
Bennett tore her ACL in November and was told she was done playing sports for the rest of her senior year. But not only did Bennett return to the field, she set a school record and is regional champ in two events.
“It feels awesome. It was heartbreaking to be told I wouldn’t play after all the hard work I put in last summer to get in shape. And then even when I started to throw, I thought I’d have a hard time. So this (the regional championships and school record) is very rewarding,” Bennett said.
Saline capture three of the four relays.
Lauren Green, Gloria Park, Abby Rentschler and Shwayder won the 4-by-800 relay in 9:23.25.
Alana Hollis, Amanda Luurtsema, Alexa Ross and Dale won the 4-by-100 in 49.16 seconds. Dale edged the Pioneer runner by .07 seconds at the finish line.
Autumn Godette, Alana Hollis, Alexa Ross and Natalie Wysocki won the 4-by-200 relay in 1:45.13.
Wendy Szuminski was second in pole vault (10-04) and qualified for the state meet. Liz Gentile (9-06) was sixth.
Natalie Wysocki (46.04) was second in the 300 hurdles and qualified for the state meet. Samantha Dicks (49.26) was seventh.
Junior Alexa Ross was second in the 200 meter dash (26.07) and qualified for the state meet.
In the high jump, Wendy Szuminski was sixth (4-11) and Lauren Sayre was seventh (4-09).
The 4-by-400 relay team of Hannah Cummings, Lauren Green, Alexa Ross and Natalie Wysocki was fourth.
State Bound Hornets
Randi Bennett – Shot Put, Discus
Quenee’ Dale – 100 Hurdles, 100 Meter Dash, 400 Relay
Lauren Green – 3200 Relay, 800 Meter Run
Gloria Park – 3200 Relay, 3200 Meter Run
Abby Rentschler – 3200 Relay, 3200 Meter Run
Elianna Shwayder – 3200 Relay, 1600 Meter Run, 3200 Meter Run
Autumn Godette – 800 Relay
Alana Hollis – 800 Relay, 400 Relay
Alexa Ross – 200 Meter Dash, 800 Relay, 400 Relay
Natalie Wysocki – 300 Meter Hurdles, 800 Relay
Amanda Luurtsema – 400 Relay
Hannah Cummings – 800 Meter Run
Alyssa Cummings – 3200 Meter Run
Gillian Walter – 3200 Meter Run
Wendy Szuminski – Pole Vault