Two-time defending track champs OLSM ready for a shot at three

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published April 7, 2017

 Josh Walls is one of the key runners back in the mix as the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s track team makes the move to D-1.

Josh Walls is one of the key runners back in the mix as the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s track team makes the move to D-1.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ORCHARD LAKE — As a defending state champ, the challenges to follow the next season are always amplified.

As a two-time defending champ, that fact intensifies to a whole new level.

And that’s what the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s track and field team is about to embark on.

The Eaglets soared to a Division 2 state title in 2015, and then with a majority of that squad back, did the same last spring.

But from that group, graduation has left its mark.

“And we’ve been moved up to Division 1,” coach Sean Clouse said with a laugh.

“We know nothing is going to come easy,” said Josh Walls, a runner in the 200-meter and 400-meter. “Track’s not an easy sport, though. It’s all about effort, and the guys on this team know how much work is required.”

The Eaglets finished last year’s event with a score of 46, which was 12 in front of Zeeland East.

Some notable names from that victory — Kahlee Hamler, Justin Myrick, Bryce Sinclair and Tyler Cochran, to name a few — have graduated or moved on.

Others, Clouse said, enrolled early to get a jump-start on their college careers.

“We’re confident,” Walls boasted. “Sure, we lost some key people. But I still see some underdogs on this team, some guys people don’t know about yet.”

“The plan right now is to compete every time out,” Clouse added. “We have some great runners here.”

The Eaglets’ relay teams remain strong, as are some of the speed events.

“We’re really young in some of the field events, though,” Clouse said.

But with guys like Walls, Ky’Ren Cunningham, Augustine Lau and Trey Bryan all back in a variety of events, don’t expect a huge drop-off.

“The first focus is on the league,” Clouse said. St. Mary’s has won consecutive Catholic League A-B Division titles.

Then the shift goes to the D-1 regional at Lake Orion High.

“The regional includes some of the best teams in the county,” Clouse said. “We just want to put ourselves in the mix.”

“We’re with the big dogs now,” Walls said. “Hey, I mean, it’s a different story now. But we’re ready. We put our work in. We’ll take it one day at a time, but really, our big focus is getting this whole team to regionals. Then we take those guys to states.”

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