Oakland University track and field making program history

By: Mark Vest | Rochester Post | Published April 28, 2017

 Rochester Adams graduate Lydia Stanley is in her senior season on OU'S track and field team. Oakland coach Paul Rice said it’s “an exciting time to try to recruit new athletes for our program.”

Rochester Adams graduate Lydia Stanley is in her senior season on OU'S track and field team. Oakland coach Paul Rice said it’s “an exciting time to try to recruit new athletes for our program.”

Photo provided by Jose Juarez

The last few years have been historic for Oakland University’s men’s and women’s track and field programs.

After the men’s and women’s squads each had a program-best third-place finish at the 2015 Horizon League Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the women’s team went on to finish first at the indoor championships in 2016, giving the Golden Grizzlies their first league title.

Oakland’s most recent accomplishment came when the men’s squad finished second at the indoor championships this past February, which was the program’s highest finish.

Oakland coach Paul Rice would like to see that success carry over into this year’s outdoor championships, which take place May 5-7 in Youngstown, Ohio.

“It gives you hope for the outdoor championships, that both teams could — and potentially should — be battling for a top-two spot,” Rice said. “We made quite a run with men and women’s cross country winning (league titles in 2015), and then the women’s indoor championship. This year we’ve had not quite as much success, but it’s hard to be too disappointed when you know you’re finishing in some of your highest team finishes you’ve ever had.”

With Oakland set to lose a large group of seniors after this year, the outdoor championships present another valuable opportunity for the program’s younger members to learn what it takes to succeed at a high level.

“We’re at a point where we’re starting to get on a good roll; we’re starting to see some great success,” Rice said. “We’ve got some big shoes to fill after this year. … But we still do have a pretty solid group coming back that has seen some success.”

Even if Oakland does go through a period of adjustment after graduation, the recent success could mean that a lot more talented athletes will be rolling through the program in the years to come.

“When you’re successful, it makes recruiting easier,” Rice said. “It’s easier to sell your program when you can show trophies in your office. … It’s an exciting time to try to recruit new athletes for our program. Because of the success this group has had over four years, five years in our program, they’ve helped us make our recruiting much more effective.”

For all the success Oakland has enjoyed, Rice, who acknowledged having a “really good staff,” would like to join other programs at the school and reach an even higher level.

With the leadership of the school’s athletic director, Jeff Konya, and his team, Rice thinks the feeling across the athletic department is that Oakland isn’t looking to settle anytime soon.

“Obviously, winning Horizon League championships is at the top of our list from year to year, but national recognition is really what we strive for,” Rice said. “As far as our program goes, I think we can get to that point. I think we have some great opportunities coming up the next few years with some of these athletes we have in the program that are really developing into some high-level athletes.”

Meet the Golden Grizzlies

Oakland University’s track and field program has made history over the past few years. Here’s a look at the athletes from the C & G coverage area who have helped it get there.

• Joe Ghafari, Farmington High
• Nathan Holland, St. Clair Shores Lakeview
• David Mittlebrun, North Farmington
• Glen Scott, Utica High
• Tyler Sirut, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North
• Zach Stadnika (Shelby Township), Macomb Lutheran North
• Gino Vitella (Sterling Heights), Warren Cousino
• Geoffrey Williston (Rochester Hills), Auburn Hills Avondale
• Kia Boykin, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse
• Terri Brown, Southfield-Lathrup
• Maddy Clark, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek
• Jillian Flint, Macomb Dakota
• Elizabeth Girardot, Royal Oak High
• Briana Glanda, Rochester Adams
• Laura Johnston, Stoney Creek
• Sarah Moen (Eastpointe), Lakeview
• Mary Moore, Dakota
• Bryn Ropeta, Stoney Creek
• Shayla Sanders, Rochester High
• Lydia Stanley, Adams
• Sydney Sterling, Farmington High
• Nicole Werthmann, L’Anse Creuse
• Lauren Zens (St. Clair Shores), St. Clair High