Ferndale High sophomore Kevin Cole participates in the high jump at a recent meet against Hazel Park High. Ferndale coach Fred George said the state of the program is in a good place.

Ferndale High sophomore Kevin Cole participates in the high jump at a recent meet against Hazel Park High. Ferndale coach Fred George said the state of the program is in a good place.

Photo by Donna Dalziel


Ferndale High track program sees big increase in numbers

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published April 25, 2018

 Ferndale High sophomore Shane Bell, left, competes in a recent track meet against Hazel Park High. Between the boys and girls teams, Ferndale boys coach Fred George said there are over 80 athletes in the program.

Ferndale High sophomore Shane Bell, left, competes in a recent track meet against Hazel Park High. Between the boys and girls teams, Ferndale boys coach Fred George said there are over 80 athletes in the program.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

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With his more than 20 years of experience with Ferndale High’s track and field program, there aren’t a lot of things that are likely to catch boys coach Fred George off guard. But this season, there is something that he said surprised him.

Between the boys and girls teams, George said there are over 80 kids in the program, which is far more than he was expecting.

And although the program’s increase in popularity means there are a lot more faces to try to place with names than usual, for George, it’s well worth it.

“I’m really happy,” George said. “The kids are buying into what we’re doing. They’re a really good group of kids.”

Last season, John Adams III was a state champion for Ferndale, as he finished first at the Division 2 finals in the 100-yard dash.

His success may have played a significant role in the large increase in numbers.

“Once the kids (saw) how hard he was working — he was already a good football player, good athlete — he kept motivating other kids to do more, to be better,” George said.

With Adams having graduated, junior Harrison Hayes is the team’s only remaining state qualifier from last season. Hayes qualified in the 300 hurdles despite being injured most of last season.

With a healthy year, George said, “We expect (Hayes) to qualify for the state and hopefully win the regional.”

George also expects strong contributions from juniors Torian Belton and Salomon Palmer, along with senior Jemone Cochran.

George sets goals for the squad, including a run at the Oakland Activities Association Gold Division championship.

“One (goal) is to meet their personal potential,” George said. “Two, our goal is always to be one of the best teams in the league, and three, qualify as many kids as we possibly can for the state meet and ultimately get a number of All-Staters.”

George said the state of Ferndale’s program is good, and he acknowledged assistant coach Mike Shepherd, Athletic Director Shaun Butler and girls coach Charles Carroll for their contributions.

How things go the rest of the season could help the program progress even further.

“I’m excited, because I’m watching the kids learn and take in a lot of information and using that information,” George said. “Even with the weather being as cold as it is, they’re still coming and they’re still working hard. And they can see improvements just based on the efforts.”

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