Ike’s Hurley carried ‘clear mind’ en route to 2 all-state honors, at D1 track finals

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Shelby-Utica News | Published June 14, 2024

 Utica Eisenhower sophomore Brody Kelsey finished fourth in the 100-meter at the MHSAA Region 10 meet May 17 at Romeo High School.

Utica Eisenhower sophomore Brody Kelsey finished fourth in the 100-meter at the MHSAA Region 10 meet May 17 at Romeo High School.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A year ago, Utica Eisenhower junior Bryce Hurley would’ve told you he wasn’t feeling like the best version of himself.

Coming off a broken tibia in February of 2023, Hurley was able to compete in the track and field season when the Eagles needed him, and while he was extremely efficient while still not at full strength, it was a tough break for the talented football/track star who qualified for the state finals as a freshman.

“It was always in my head, that the thought of something worse could happen or it could happen again,” Hurley said. “Even though I was told I was all right, it’s still in the back of your head.”

This season was different. This season, Hurley felt like he was back to full strength, and it was on full display at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state finals June 1 at East Kentwood High School.

Qualifying for states as the regional champion in the 100-meter and earning third in the 200-meter, Hurley would take state runner-up in the 100-meter and fourth in the 200-meter at states, receiving all-state honors in both events and leading Eisenhower to 17th-place out of 61 teams.

Hurley became the first male sprinter to place at the state meet in school history, and he was the Macomb County and Macomb Area Conference White champion in both events as well.

“It just felt so good,” Hurley said. “I had a clear mind and I was prepared coming into it. I was fully ready for the season. That’s the best feeling as an athlete, where you just feel like yourself.”

Hurley also qualified for states in the 4x100 relay alongside seniors Joshua White and David Scheel and sophomore Brody Kelsey, which placed 21st.

The 4x100 squad, which earned a regional title, set a school record this year with a time of 47.29, while Hurley himself set records in the 100-meter (10.61) and 200-meter (21.58).

It was a long road to recovery from both a physical and mental aspect for the junior standout, but Eisenhower head coach Christopher Smith said Hurley’s work ethic and persistence allowed him to return to the top of his game after injury.

“Even when he came back, he was a county champ and league champ, but he just missed qualifying for the state meet last year,” Smith said. “He just wasn’t at his top form yet. This year, he was healthy all season. The kid works his butt off and trains hard. I think the progression was just being healthy and being able to train.”

Kelsey (200-meter) and White (long jump) both added individual state qualifications for Eisenhower, while senior Jenna Vansant, senior Mariana Stojcevski, junior Lily Pantaleo and freshman Maggie Baginski earned the lone state qualification on the girls side in the 4x400 relay.

On top of an impressive state finals showing, Eisenhower also claimed runner-up at the Macomb County championships for its best finish at the county meet since it started recording team scores.

Eisenhower will have an array of talent on the boys side set to return with Hurley and Kelsey at the helm, but Smith expects junior Colden Gray, who ran the 800-meter and the 4x400 and 4x800 relays, and freshman Ryan Varner (long jump), who just missed out of qualifying for states, to make a name for themselves next year.

“He’s (Gray) a kid that’s really stepped up his game, and he’s got another year to go,” Smith said. “We’re expecting some good things out of him.”