South track and field wins third consecutive state title

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 5, 2013

 Pictured, center, is Grosse Pointe South’s Jasmine Brathwaite during a regional meet in May. South’s track and field team captured its third consecutive state title.

Pictured, center, is Grosse Pointe South’s Jasmine Brathwaite during a regional meet in May. South’s track and field team captured its third consecutive state title.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Not long after finishing in second place at the Division 1 cross country state finals last season, Grosse Pointe South girls track and field coach Steve Zaranek was already thinking ahead to the track and field season when he said, “We’ve won the last two track titles, and we’re going for a third.”

Win a third consecutive state championship is exactly what South did, finishing with 76 points; Saline (55) and East Kentwood (47) round out the top three.

After the meet, Zaranek gave some thought as to South’s place in the history of Michigan track and field.

“As far as distance running, there’s never been anything like what we’ve shown the last several years,” he said. “Our track distance runners — there’s never been any group to compare to them, led by Hannah (Meier): the most versatile athlete I’ve ever seen here in Michigan. We talked about making history. They created incredible history at the state level, also very important to us, at our own school. This is a group of 17 girls that represented our team of 105. They’re very humble young ladies.”

Highlights for South included winning the 3200-meter relay, with a team consisting of Christina Firl, Ersula Farrow, Haley Meier and Hannah Meier, as well as the 1600 (Lily Pendy, Farrow, and Haley and Hannah Meier).

Individually, Hannah Meier broke two of her own state records when she won the 1600 (4 minutes, 39.23 seconds) and 800 (2:06.35).

Farrow took second place in the 800 (2:07.91), and Haley Meier finished in second in the 1600 (4:42.43). Farrow finished in fourth in the same event (4:51.96).

Jasmine Brathwaite and Aubryn Samaroo also had top-five finishes, with Brathwaite finishing third in the 100-meter dash (12.394 seconds), and Samaroo finishing in a tie for second place in the high jump (5 feet, 5 inches).

Among the group of seniors South will be losing are, Hannah Meier, Haley Meier, Firl and Samaroo, all of whom are slated to continue their careers at the college level.

They helped what was already a successful program become even more successful, and according to Zaranek, although they may be moving on, they will continue to have an impact on South’s cross country and track and field program.

“A youngster, whether ninth, 10th or even 11th grade, look to our seniors — especially these veterans like the ones that competed today — and they see how things are done the right way,” he said. “To them, it simply (becomes) the way things are on our team; they know that’s the expectation. We work really hard; we compete really hard. We try our best to have as much fun as possible, but those expectations are centered around them being outstanding young women.

“The coaches that work with our team are second to none when it comes to instilling those values in these girls. I am convinced that is the reason why we’re successful.”

Although South will be losing some athletes who have helped the program reach new heights, Zaranek thinks that depth has been a key factor to the success that has been enjoyed over the years. He expects that to continue to be the case, as South could have between 90-120 members on its squad again next season.

And while he may not know who will help lead the way for South next season, Zaranek expressed optimism that the program is still in a good position to be strong.

“We’re losing a huge amount of talent,” he said. “But kids — the next group — they step up. In 34 years, we’ve never had a losing season. We may not be the state champs next year, but we’re (going to) be a very competitive team. We’re always in the thick of it every year. That’s exciting. We look forward to that, and that’s how it should be.”