Saline and Chelsea boys track teams win third straight SEC titles
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com file photo
Fresh off their third straight regional title, the Saline boys track and field team added another three-peat to the program with its third straight Southeastern Conference Red Division championship Wednesday afternoon in Dexter.
The Hornets won the SEC Red with 172 points, finishing miles ahead of second-place Monroe with 102. Pioneer followed in third at 78.
“It feels great with this group of seniors,” Saline coach Allan Leslie said of the league title. “Our depth is our key. We don’t have any superstars on the team, we like to grind it out and that’s what we’ve done all year long, we’ve done the little things and placed kids in multiple events.”
Matthew Elms - a senior, bound for his fourth straight trip to the state championships - cruised to an SEC title in the 800-meter run, finishing two seconds ahead of teammate Anthony Lamus. Elms also helped the 3,200 relay clock in nine seconds ahead of runner-up Pioneer. Saline also edged Pioneer by six tenths of a second in the 800 relay.
More coverage: Boxscore (SEC Red and SEC White champions listed)
“It means a lot,” Elms said of the third-straight SEC title. “I think we’re one of the best teams that Saline has ever had.”
Saline also flexed its depth in the sprints, as it finished 2-3 in the 100, 200 and 400.
The Hornets’ fingerprints were all over the field events, too. Saline’s Patrick Canavan was the only competitor to clear over 20 feet in the long jump and John Smutny out-threw the field by 10 feet en route to a discus win. Smutny added a runner-up showing in the shot put.
“After today, I think we’re really fired up and ready to go (for the state championships),” Elms said. “We have our sights set high. We’re definitely amped.”
Other area league champs included Pioneer’s Lucas Arrivo (1,600), Tre Brown (110 hurdles) and Tyler Leach (pole vault), and Skyline’s Willie Elam (shot put) and Bartek Paszek (400).
On the SEC White side, Chelsea, like Saline, kept the pace after its regional title to win its third consecutive league championship. The Bulldogs scored 169 points, followed by runner-up Lincoln with 92 and third-place Adrian with 75.
“There are a lot of good teams in here and we’re just fortunate to be able to put it together and compete with these guys,” said Chelsea coach Eric Swager who led the Bulldogs to their first regional win since 1969 last week. “I told the guys that this was like a primer for the state meet. (Today) we didn’t do as well as we did in regionals across the board, but overall I saw some improvements.”
Chelsea dominated the distances with wins from Zach Rabbitt and Austin Horn in the 800 and 1,600, respectively, and a 14-second victory in the 3,200 relay.
Chelsea’s Michael Smith swept the throws with wins in the shot and discus, while Berkley Edwards (100) and Shane McGrath (300 hurdles) added wins for the Bulldogs.
Lincoln got wins from Robie Webster (110 hurdles), Shawn Lewis (long jump) and its 400 relay, while Dexter’s league champs included Andrew Dumont (high jump) and Noah Gary (pole vault).
Gary cleared 15-feet, 8-inces to win his first SEC title and set a personal record, besting his previous PR of 15-7 which he chalked at regionals . The Dexter junior made three attempts at breaking the school record of 16 feet but came up short each time.
“I PR’d so I was happy about that,” Gary said. “Even if it was just by an inch, I’m still improving. It feels good to win.‘
Due to lightning, the meet’s final two events, the 3,200-meter run and 1,600 relay, were cancelled.