For as much as it has already accomplished, Grosse Pointe South’s track and field team has a chance to do something coach Steve Zaranek said only two other programs in the state ever have — win a third consecutive state title.
Zaranek thinks his team is well aware of what is at stake and the expectations that come with being a part of the program.
“We have extremely competitive girls on our team who thrive in that state-level environment,” he said. “That challenge is definitely there for them. We have a very experienced team. Just about all the girls who were in the state finals last year are back on our team this year. Many of them were on the team two years ago. They know what it takes.”
South has approximately 30 seniors on its roster, including Hannah Meier, Haley Meier, Christina Firl and Aubryn Samaroo, who have all committed to college programs. Zaranek would like to see his group of seniors cap off their high school careers by helping South be included in some rare company.
“Two (consecutive state titles) is extremely rare, (and) three is almost unheard of,” he said. “We would like to have that opportunity, and I think we have the opportunity to challenge to do that. We have the talent, depth, and more importantly, we have girls with the heart to go after this.”
Having won back-to-back state titles does not mean that Zaranek is taking anything for granted. He is aware of some of the teams that are the most likely to challenge South in its attempt to make some fresh history for the program.
“Track in Michigan is among the very highest talent level in the country,” he said. “It’s very competitive. It’s really good, and I’m glad it is. We expect great competition from teams such as Saline, Rockford, the Ann Arbor schools, and Oak Park has a tremendous team this year.
“We will be definitely challenged. It’s going to be very interesting, but I’m also very confident that, if we’re healthy on that first Saturday of June, we will challenge for that title.”
If South is able to come away with another state title, Zaranek has a pretty good idea what the key will be to pulling it off. And it’s the same one that he thinks helped lead to the program’s two previous championships.
“Not all our girls are superstars,” he said. “What really, I think, sets that standard for us is that every girl on the team, regardless of ability level, want to become really good teammates. It’s a difficult thing to do with a team our size (approximately 120 girls this season), but it’s just a wonderful challenge.
“And that’s really been the core of our success, is the team support for one another. The unselfishness and the willingness just to give to their school, their community and their teammates. That’s why we’ve been successful, year after year.”