One week after winning their seventh straight SEC Red championship, the Saline boys’ track and field team returned to action and won their seventh straight regional championship.
Saline finished with 145.5 points, ahead of Pioneer (109) and Monroe (85).
In this neck of the woods, seven straight regional trophies qualifies as a bona fide dynasty.
Saline coach Al Leslie said it was a remarkable accomplishment. He was pleased to see the boys reveling in their victory as they ran the regional trophy around the track.
“Winning seven straight is an accomplishment. But tonight, it’s about this victory. These kids worked hard to win this one here tonight. They deserve it,” Leslie said.
In some ways, last Friday’s regional meet was disappointing for Saline. A lot of Saline sprinters who wanted to run at the state meet were denied, finishing just out of the running against premier competition. On the other hand, Saline had great success in other places.
“I know we have a couple kids who are disappointed with how some of the events went today. But as a team, we still had a great day,” Leslie said.
The distance relay team opened the meet by winning the regional. William Downey, Spencer Leslie, Aidan Carichner and Anthony DeKraker won the 3200-meter relay in 7:52.47, 1.4 seconds faster than Pioneer’s team.
Saline bookended the regional by winning the 1600-meter relay. Spencer Leslie, Robbie Felton, Jacob Brunty and Sean Duffy won in 3:24.48 – almost a full second faster than Monroe.
The other state qualifying relay team was the 800-meter relay. Christopher Chuparkhoff, Robbie Felton, Winford Walker and Duffy finished second place. Saline finished in 1:28.84 -- .15 seconds slower than Monroe. The 400-meter relay team of Felton, Jameson Swanson, Connor Hibbard and Brandon Boyd placed third in 43.89 seconds. Only the top two teams make the state meet and Saline missed the qualifying time.
Individually, the Hornets were kept out of the winner’s circle on the track. Anthony DeKraker was second in the 3200-meter race. He finished in 9:26.5. Pioneer sophomore Nick Foster won with a time of 9:22.81. On the track, the only other individual to qualify was Spencer Leslie. In a great race to the finish, Leslie finished third in 1:57.06. Dexter’s Jack Shelley won in 1:56.35.
In the field, several Hornets had a great day.
Junior Eric Harris set a new Saline High School record in the pole vault. Harris cleared 15-03.5 to win the regional and qualify for the state meet. Senior Kyle Nouhan cleared 14 feet to finish second and qualify.
Junior CJ Gildersleeve had won the discus with a personal best throw of 148 feet. Senior Nathan Powers was second with a throw of 146-07. Both qualified for the state meet. Gildersleeve also qualified in the shot put, where he threw 47-05 to finish second. Powers was third (46 feet) and Bennett Drake (44-05) was fifth.
Preston Filla was third in the high jump (5-11). Luke Atzinger was seventh in the pole vault (12-06).
On the track, Robbie Felton was fifth in the 100 meters (11.33). Sean Duffy took fourth in the 400 meters (50.58). Toby Mepham was seventh in the 800 (1:59.27). Aidan Carichner (third, 4:27.97) and Joshua Cook (fifth, 4:28.46) ran strong in the 1600. Jameson Swanson was third in the 110-meter hurdles (15.25). Ryan Farr, who was seventh in the 110 hurdles (16.4), was third in the 300-meter hurdles (41.11). Joshia Rentschler was eighth in the 300-meter hurdles (42.2).
Saline will be taking a smaller-than-expected contingent to the state meet, reducing their chances at bringing back hardware. Coach Leslie said his group still expects to make some noise.
“We’re going to the state meet and we’re going to give it our best. If we focus on doing the best we can, you never know what can happen,” Leslie said.
Saline Girls Track and Field
The Saline girls finished third at the regional track meet at Saline High School last Friday. The girls finished with 57 points. Pioneer, a potential state champion, won the meet with 174 points.
The silver lining for Saline is that the team’s promising young athletes continued to excel.
In the high jump, sophomore Sloane Pepper qualified for the state meet by finishing second (5-02). Skyler Hardt, who finished eighth in the pole vault (9-09) was Saline’s only other top-8 finisher from the field.
On the track, Emma Cummings, Rebecca Cantrell, Kayla Fortino and Taylor Vaughan qualified in the 3200-meter relay. They finished second to Pioneer in 9:39.54.
Junior Jessi Larson had Saline’s best individual performance on the track. She was third in the 3200-meter race. Her time of 11:03.5 qualified for the state meet.
Freshman Lauryn Hunt was third in the 400-meter race in 1:00.82. Freshman Emily Cook was fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (16.66) and the 300-meter hurdles (48.09). In the 1600 meters, sophomore Kaya Fortino was seventh in 6:30.76. Sophomore Emma Cummings was eighth in the 800-meter race in 2:27.89.