Pine River boys claim Highland Conference track title
MARION — Evart and Pine River are at the state finals Saturday but it was a memorable regular season for both.
It went down to the last event of the Highland Conference boys track and field season.
The 4x400 relay winner was Pine River and as a result, the Bucks grabbed the league trophy.
Combined with the regular-season duals and the victory at Marion (May 20), the Bucks won the overall title.
Pine River edged Lake City 141-137 for first place in Tuesday’s meet after nipping the Trojans in the 1,600 relay.
“It was cold and miserable, but the teams didn’t let up, and they gave the effort deserving of the conference finals,” Pine River coach Eric Gebhard said. “There’s a lot of heart on this team, and it’s what’s gotten us to where we are this season.”
Evart was third with 113 1/2 points.
Teams battled cold, windy weather with temperatures in the low 40s.
The foursome of Derek Hartline, Colten Rawson, Nick Truax and Ben Rigling won the 1,600 relay for Pine River which was tied with Lake City after 16 events.
“We took first even though we were seeded sixth in it,” Pine River coach Eric Gebhard said. “It’s a good time of the season to stack the team, I guess.”
Rigling crossed the line two seconds ahead of Lake City.
“We were contemplating whether or not to go tonight,” Gebhard said, referring to the inclement weather. “It felt right to press forward and see what they could do. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
For the Bucks, Cole Gingrich was first in the pole vault (11-6) and Colten Rawson third (11-0), Gingrich won the 100 (12.02) and was second in the 200-meter dash (24.24), the 800 relay team was first (1:36.51), Josh Jackson won the discus (135-0), Rawson was second in the high jump (6-0), and Rigling was first in the 400 meters (55.43) and second in the 800 (2:03)
For Evart, the foursome of Trevin Ladd, Danny Griffin, Cody Pritchard and Dillon Danley was second in the 800 relay (1:38.19), the foursome of Josh Woods, Griffin, Ben Randall and Santana Scott was second in the 3200 relay (8:35.0), Zach Parshall won the high jump (6-0), Scott was second in the 400 (47.61), the foursome of Pritchard, Scott Martin, Joe Eastman and Danley took second in the 4x100 relay (47.6), and Griffin was second in the 400 (53.75).
“I thought we did OK,” Evart coach Dennis Peacock said. “Lake City and Pine River had a little more depth and were better than we were. It was a good meet and our team did pretty well.”
Marion won a close girls meet 127-126 over Beal City. Evart was third at 98 1/2, followed by Manton and Pine River at 91 1/2 each and Lake City at 46.
For Evart, Allyssa Witbeck won the high jump (4-10). Tabby Turley was first in the 100 hurdles (17.48), and 100-meter dash (13.83). The foursome of Tina Fournier, Witbeck, Mara VanOrder and Turley was second (5:30.3), and VanOrder won the 400-meter run, and 200-meter dash (27.75)
“We wound up third which is up from our fifth-place finish during the dual meet season,” Evart coach Ken Willems said. “We’re thrilled. It was our best effort of the year as a team. It was cold but it was a good meet for us.”
VanOrder was happy with her day.
“I definitely ran my races smart and stronger,” VanOrder said. “In the 400, my strategy has been to improve so much this year.”
For Pine River, Robin Peppey (32-9 1/2) and Mary Ware (32-5) were one-two in the shot put, while Ware won the discus (112-9) Anna Lindquist, Olivia Thomson, Autumn Dutka and Cheyanna Rizor were third in the 4x800 relay, and Lindquist was second in the pole vault at 8-6.
Both schools will prepare for the state finals on Saturday. Pine River is at Comstock Park (Division 3) and Evart is at Hudsonville (Division 4).