By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion varsity girls track and field team started the season out strong with a decisive 82-46 win over Oxford on March 27, the first outdoor meet of the season.
The Oxford meet was also the team’s first OAA dual meet competition and the Dragons were able to pick up wins in 12 of 17 events.
Leading the effort were seniors Madison Eaton, who won the 100-meter hurdles and the 200-meter dash. Melissa Symons won the 100-meter dash and the 300-meter hurdles. Both girls were also on the winning 4×100-meter relay team, which also included seniors Makayla Allen and Shantel Stanley.
Sophomore Sophie Novak won the 1,600-meter and 800-meter runs and sophomore Grace Winkler won the 400-meter dash, while junior Abby Locke won the 3,200-meter run. Grace Winkler won the 400-meter run.
The team of Alayna Tisch, Mecayla Long, Shantel Stanley and Sarah Griffin won the 4×200-meter relay.
In field events, Griffin won the long jump and Cassie Moreau won the discus.
The team previously finished third out of 21 teams at the Huron Relays Invitational at Eastern Michigan University on March 23, scoring 48 points, just six points behind first place Oak Park and two behind second place finisher Ann Arbor Pioneer.
The Lady Dragons will be back in action April 10 at Rochester Adams.
And while the team has had success early on this year, Head Coach Dave Hutson knows it is a grueling season ahead and the Dragons have to be vigilant to accomplish their goals.
“The first goal is to try and go undefeated again in dual meet competition,” said Hutson, who is in his seventh year at Lake Orion and his 25th year as a track coach.
Lake Orion has lost only one meet in the last three years, to Clarkston, and is 13-1 in dual meets over the last four years.
The team is also looking to win another league championship and their third regional championship in a row, Hutson said.
“And then, of course, to see how high we can push ourselves in the state meet. Our goal is to sneak into the top two in the state meet and, hopefully, win as long as we can stay healthy. That’s the key in our sport. Even if someone has a minor injury it can affect the team. To win a state meet you have to be firing on all pistons on that day,” Hutson said.
Nine girls went to the state championship last year; seven of them are back this year.
“We have a lot of depth and I think that is going to be the big thing that sets us apart from other teams this year,” Hutson said.
The team has 75 girls and 17 captains and competes in the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) Red division. Clarkston is traditionally Lake Orion’s toughest competition, but Hutson believes the team’s depth and determination will help them this season, and he expects good results from the team’s leaders and key contributors.
Seniors Madison Eaton, Melissa Symons, Cassie Moreau, Makayla Allen and Alison Sherman and Junior Sarah Griffin are all captains and key contributors the team is depending on, and sophomore Sophie Novak and junior Josie Arnold will be forces in the middle-distance runs, Hutson said.
“Cassie Moreau is going to be pretty solid in shot put and discus,” Hutson said, adding that Griffin and junior Erin Kurtycz will do well in long jump. “Heather De Samper has a legitimate shot at making state in the pole vault. In the distance 3,200-meter run Alison Sherman will be a big plus for us.”
Hutson also expects the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400-meter relay teams to be strong this year.
“We’re one of the few schools in the league that have pole vaulters and we have very good pole vaulters,” Hutson said, adding that pole vault comes in handy especially during larger competitions, such as invitationals, district and post season meets when the Dragon vaulters can rack up extra points for the team.
In the league meet, the Dragons will face more competition than in previous years. In past OAA championships the Dragons would compete against other Red division teams: this year the Red and White teams are combining for the league meet.
“This year they are combining the Red and White, which will really make it more of a league championship,” Hutson said.
For more photos see the April 3 issue of The Lake Orion Review.