St. Mary’s track team rolls to second D-2 state championship in a row

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 13, 2016

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ORCHARD LAKE — The pressure has been there from the start.

In fact, as Sean Clouse admitted, the expectation has been there since the final event at the 2015 Division 2 track and field state championship came to a close.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s was atop the standings, the state champs.

And before lifting the trophy to celebrate, Clouse knew the expectation for his team to repeat would be palpable.

“This was a great relief,” Clouse said a couple of days after his team went out and defended, winning the 2016 state title in D-2 on June 4 in Zeeland. “With what we did last year and all the guys we brought back, there was a ton of pressure on this group. But for them to go out there and make it happen, it was pretty special.”

“This is such a long season, but this is pretty exciting,” said junior Richard Bowens. “To win another state title is awesome.”

A year ago, St. Mary’s scored 52 points as a team at the final, a full 12.5 ahead of second-place Mason High.

Things were tighter this time around, as the Eaglets scored 46 as a team to place first.

Mason was again the runner-up, scoring 44, while Zeeland East finished with 34.

“It’s a different dynamic this year. ... Last year, our relay teams really carried us,” Clouse said. “That wasn’t the case this time around. We had some different events earn us the points to get this.”

Kahlee Hamler won a state title in the 100-meter dash, finishing in 10.99 seconds. Tyler Cochran was fourth in the 400 in 49.80 seconds. Augustine Lau placed 11th in the 800 in 1:58.70, while in the 110 hurdles, Shermond Dabney finished fourth in 14.65 seconds.

Bowens left his mark on the 300 hurdles, winning a second state title in as many years while also setting a new state record in the event with a time of 37.46 seconds.

“Not a bad way to end the season,” he said. “The race was good. I had a real good warmup, which helped. I felt like I was in the zone, and with the atmosphere and the crowd, I felt like I was full speed from the start.”

Dabney placed third in the 300 hurdles in 38.61 seconds.

Bowen, Dabney, Hamler and Ky’Ren Cunningham teamed up to win the 800 relay in 1 minute, 27.71 seconds to round out those earning All-State honors.

“It was a long, long day, but to end it all the way we did felt great,” Bowens added.

And now, well, why not look toward next year?

Of all those at the state final, Cochran is the lone senior who figured in the scoring.

“The expectation when we step on the track is going to be to win it all,” Bowens said bluntly about three state titles in a row.

“I don’t want to start thinking that way, but it’s out there,” Clouse said with a laugh. “Track used to be kind of the second sport for a lot of guys around here. That’s changing. We’re at the point with this program now where we’re starting to get track guys, and it’s paying off.”

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