MOUNT CLEMENS —This year’s Mount Clemens High boys track team has put it all together and at press time had earned at least a share of the Macomb Area Conference Silver Division title.
The Bathers were 4-0 in the MAC Silver with one meet left; Marysville was 3-1 with one meet remaining at press time. This comes after Mount Clemens finished last in the Silver three of the last four years.
Mount Clemens coach Rob Hillery, in his third year with the program, said the turnaround took place after his athletes became more focused on their craft.
“They thought it was just about getting out on the track and being faster than everybody else,” Hillery said. “They didn’t really understand other things like the endurance component. They took a few lumps and got upset with it, but that made them buy in.
“Now, they see that if they listen and perform to the best of their abilities, we’ll be fine.”
Hillery said he has a team full of athletes who excel at a number of events.
Sophomore Devon Felts, a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state finals qualifier as a freshman, is solid in the two-mile run. Seniors Josh Branch and Eric Rice excel at a number of events, such as a 400- and 800-meter runs. Sophomore Myrick El, who runs the 100- and 200-meter dashes, may be one of the fastest runners in Macomb County, according to Hillery.
“We have (athletes) who can do a little bit of it all,” Hillery said. “We got a lot more kids to come out this year, and that helps, too, so you’re not wearing guys out by having them run in a bunch of different events.”
That’s key, considering the Bathers went through a stretch from May 7-11 where they had four meets in five days.
Hillery said he hasn’t worked the athletes too hard in practice, with that grueling schedule being followed by MHSAA D-3 regionals (May 17-18 at Macomb Lutheran North) and the MAC Silver meet (May 21 at East Detroit).
“We’re working on good stretches and baton changes and things like that; I’m not working them too hard right now,” Hillery said. “At this point, we’re trying to maintain and build on where we are now.”
Hillery said the division title is a nice thing for the Bathers to have, since the program hasn’t won one in some time. The Mount Clemens coach added, though, that the MAC Silver crown isn’t the goal.
“There’s bigger fish to fry. I want them to know we did OK here, but we’ll be running up against athletes from around the whole state in the regionals and finals, and that’s where our performances can get some guys off to college,” Hillery said. “(Winning a division title) is a good precursor to what we need to do, but these guys have the ability to go above and beyond.”