Coming up big on the big stage
COMSTOCK PARK -- Travis McCuaig, Joe Oehrli and Devyn Powell didn’t have what they would consider to be a perfect day at the Division 3 track and field state finals meet Saturday at Comstock Park.
But taking one state individual title each more than made up for it.
Those three local athletes won state individual titles with McCuaig of Morley Stanwood taking the high jump, Oehrli of Reed City winning the 1,600-meter run and Powell of Pine River capturing the 400 meters .
Reed City wound up in fourth place with 27 points in the boys meet. Sami Michell winning four events for Reed City scored all 40 of her team’s points en route to a fourth-place standing. Morley Stanwood’s boys were tied for eighth with 20 points
McCuaig’s jump of 6-8 tied two other jumpers but he had fewer misses.
“He had a busy day,” said Morley Stanwood coach Brian Young. “He qualified in the long jump, didn’t do his best and went to the 110 hurdles and just missed out in the finals. That gave him a little motivation to come back in the high jump. Our high jump coach, Michelle Young, spends most of the time with Travis in practice. It’s a great tribute to him and her to get together.”
McCuaig, a junior, has been high jumping since the eighth grade.
“The last two years he made it to the state finals but never placed,” Young said. “He went from a 6-6 high jumper last year to a 6-10 jumper this year. He’s made great strides for us.”
McCuaig entered the meet confident of his chances in the high jump.
His best this year was 6-10.
“I was hoping for a state record (Saturday), but maybe next year,” he said. “My first meet (this season) I jumped 6-8.”
McCuaig said he improved four inches from a year ago.
“Just getting more mature helped,” he said. “I spent a lot of time on the basketball court trying to dunk. I have a partner Adam Wheeler who coaches me a lot and tells me what I’m doing wrong.”
Winning the state title is his top sports thrill in high school so far, McCuaig said. As for next year, “I want to go back-to-back and try to break the state record (6-10 1/4),” he said.
Oehrli won the 1,600 in 4:19.14 over Chase Barnett of Mason County Central in 4:19.82 He was hoping to make it 2-for-2 but narrowly lost the 800-meter run to Zach Zingheim of Lansing Catholic who had a 1:55.97. Oehrli’s time was 1:56.29. Matt Parish of Morley Stanwood was fifth in that event in 1:58.32.
Morley Stanwood got a sixth place from Tyler Hanks in 50.74 in the 400-meter dash. In the 200-meter dash, Hanks was sixth in 22.55 and Eric Reed of Reed City eighth in 22.74.
“I thought I had a pretty good day and our team had a very good day,” Hanks said, adding that his favorite event was the 200. “I came in seeded eighth and came out sixth. Last year I took seventh. To improve was a good thing for me.
“We ran well in the 4 by 4 (but did not place) and in the 400, I started running but I was happy getting sixth.”
The Coyote 1600 meter relay foursome of Eric Reed to Eric Bradford to Michael Bradford to Oehrli was second in 3:25.56, losing first by almost a full second to Lansing Catholic.
“I was happy with the 1,600,” Oehrli said. “The 800 I was disappointed with. I got cut off for the win (by Zingheim). I was finishing and the guy cut me off. I got spiked. We filed an appeal and so did the third place guy but (Zingheim) didn’t get DQed.”
In the 200, Reed netted a personal record.
“Our 4 by 2 could have been a little better but could have been worse,” he said.
The Bradford twins were in the 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
“We had Eric (Reed) out of the 4 by 1 because his foot was bothering him,” Eric Bradford said. “But the person, Eric Voelker, we put in there stepped up and did well. Our 4 by 2 did about what we expected. Our 4 by 4, we were a little upset we didn’t pull out the win but second is still good, we were seeded third and we set the new school record.”
“It was a pretty good season,” Michael Bradford said. “I felt that our 4 by 4 could have gotten our time down a little more but the weather wasn’t permitting that.”
Oehrli anchored the 4 by 4 and again failed to catch Zingheim, who was LCC’s anchor.
“I was kind of disappointed we didn’t win,” he said. “I’m happy we ran a new (school record). I was about to pass him with 200 left, but I couldn’t get him.”
“I thought we did really well,” Reed City coach Brent Michell said. “Joe could have done a little better in the 800 but he ran pretty good. You take second in the state finals, that’s pretty good. Our mile relay team ran the best time of the year and when you lose to a team that’s doing a little better, it’s hard to feel bad about that. Joe ran a smart race in the mile. We’re really excited for him.
“Our sprint relay teams, it was probably a long shot we were going to medal. We ran well and had some good exchanges. It was quite an accomplishment to qualify.”
Powell got all of Pine River’s points with her first-place time in the 400-meter run of 57.77. She said at the 100-meter mark is when she was confident of victory. Angela Ritter of Frankenmuth was second in 58.15.
“Two girls were in front of me and I can normally tell once I start getting my kick if I can get them or not,” she said. “At least by the 50 meters, I knew I could get them so I gave it all I had.”
Powell, a sophomore took fourth last season.
“My goal was to break the school record which I ended up doing at the Highland Conference meet,’ she said. “I didn’t expect this, especially being a sophomore.”