South track and field sends several to states

By: Jon Malavolti | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 1, 2011

It’s fair to say Grosse Pointe South’s girls track and field season has already been a great one up to this point, and the state finals are still a few days away.

The Blue Devils, which as a program has enjoyed many successes over the years, have set new school records in 15 of 17 events this season, several times over.

“I am extremely proud of our team,” coach Steve Zaranek said. “We set numerous lofty goals and have accomplished them all.”

And the team isn’t done yet.

South qualified representatives in 14 events to the June 4 Division 1 state finals in Rockford — a new program record, of course.

“We’ve had great teams over our 32-year history,” Zaranek said. “Last year and this year are the most talented teams we’ve ever had at South. We are so balanced with sprints, distance, relays, hurdles and field events.”

The Blue Devils utilized that balance to add to their long list of titles, winning the Macomb Area Conference White Division dual-meet crown, the division meet title and a regional title this year. South has won 22 division championships and 15 regional titles.

“In no event do we give anything,” Zaranek said. “That is very rare in track and field. Our depth has always been our trademark and has carried us to 32 winning seasons. The difference now is that our front-runners are so phenomenal.

All that top-tier talent was on display for the Blue Devils recently. They scored 230 points at the May 24 divisional meet. The next closest team was Anchor Bay with 93 points. The other four MAC girls track and field division meet champions scored between 159-163 points.

And at the regional meet a few days prior, South racked up 210.5 points, winning six events and finishing second nine times.

“We have a great mix of all four grades contributing to our success,” Zaranek said. “The girls have extreme confidence.”

With 108 girls on the team, Zaranek and his staff certainly have a large pool of talent to choose from.

More impressive, though, is the chemistry that such a big team has been able to create and hone.

“To have 108 girls on a team with a common cause, and the desire and work ethic to achieve our goals certainly make me, and our other coaches, very proud,” Zaranek said. “The girls are great teammates. They support each other through every single experience we encounter. They love the fact that we are the team everyone tries to beat. It makes us even better.

“We have a team that works hard, has fun, and displays unbelievable sportsmanship and support. Our girls follow the coach’s plans and strategies to perfection each time we are on the track.”

Next up for the Blue Devils will be improving on their fourth-place finish (out of 95 teams) at last year’s state finals.

Zaranek pointed to powers Ann Arbor Huron and East Kentwood as “the teams to beat,” and Ann Arbor Pioneer and hosts Rockford as “two other very strong teams” that will challenge for the state title.

The Blue Devils will look to some of their top athletes to put them over the top at this year’s state finals, including Haley Meier and Hannah Meier (the 1600- and 3200-meter relays, the 1600 run and the 800), Veronica Schacht (400 relay, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 1600 relay), Caitlin Moore (400 relay and 1600 relay), Christina Firl (3200 relay), Carmen Engel (3200 relay), Mia Perkins (400 relay) and Marissa Monforton (400 relay).

Several other South girls qualified for states, including Sydney Burke (pole vault), Natalie Gay (3200), Emily Jackson (discus), Madi Kaiser (pole vault) and Aubryn Samaroo (high jump and long jump).

Grosse Pointe North’s girls team will also be represented in Rockford. Qualifying for the Norsemen are Allison Francis (3200), Anajai Gutierrez (shot put) and Brittany Williams (shot put).

On the boys side, local state qualifiers from North are Ryan Kenney (discus), Jalen Storks (discus) and the 3200 relay team. South is sending Trevor Burke (pole vault), Victor Mattison (400), Austin Montgomery (1600) and Stephen Muer (high jump) to the finals.

For complete regional results and state qualifiers, visit www.mhsaa.com.