MUSKEGON — Reeths-Puffer junior Klay Grant made some GMAA history Friday night on his home track, and in the process made his Rockets champions of the boys meet for the first time in 15 years.
Grant became the first boys runner to ever sweep the three individual distance events (800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs) plus win the 3,200-meter relay at the GMAA meet. Because of it his Rockets had enough juice to beat Fruitport 132-113, ending the Trojans' six-year run of titles.
"Honestly, as the meet was progressing, my coach told me there was a possibility it had never been done before, and it kind of excited me, but I was more focused on getting points for the team," Grant said. "I'm just really proud of how hard the guys have worked, and humbled I can be a part of that and work hard for them, just come out and perform for them."
It was Grant's win in the 3,200-meter run, along with the second-place finish by teammate Brett Schlaff, who stayed with Grant all the way to the finish line and came in less than a second behind him, that clinched R-P's title.
"I knew we'd have a chance," Rockets' coach Don Ketner said. "I know the kids Fruitport has are really good, and I know (Trojans' coach) Chad (Brandow) knows what he's doing. He's going to get the best out of his kids. I knew we had Klay, our hurdlers, and (Monyae Franklin)."
Grant didn't have it easy, especially in the 800-meter run, where he had to hold off a late charge by Mona Shores' Jackson Helmer to win by a second with a time of 2:07.3. He also ran the anchor leg of the 3,200 relay, taking the baton with his team in "third or second place", Ketner said. However, Grant was close enough that the team knew he'd win the race, and sure enough his team easily came in first. Jaxon Allen, Cade Tufts and Tate Bradley joined Grant in that race.
"We pulled together the (other) three guys and said, you've got to give Klay a chance," Ketner said. "If you can get him within 10 seconds, we feel pretty good about Klay closing that gap."
For his part, Grant was especially proud of his freshman teammates Allen and Bradley for their part in helping the Rockets win the title. Bradley took third place in the 800 (2:11.3), and Allen was third in the 1,600 (4:55.7), in addition to their work in the relay.
"They're both really young runners and didn't have an eighth-grade season (last year)," Grant said. "They ran so composed today and performed over their expectations. I'm so proud of them. And Brett Schlaff, who took second in the (3,200). He's one of my best friends and my training partner."
Of course, Grant couldn't have done it alone. As Ketner said, Seidell and Franklin played their parts, with Seidell winning the 110-meter hurdles (16.35) and Franklin taking the 100 (11.17).
There was one scary moment for R-P, when a runner pulled up lame in the 800 relay. The Rockets couldn't finish the race, and Ketner had to rejigger the lineup in the 400 relay because of it. However, the Rockets still won the latter event, with the team of Franklin, Ashton Carpenter, Tyler Walker and Trevor Hopkins getting it done (44.21). Liam McHugh also scored a win for R-P in the high jump (5-8).
R-P had been competing shorthanded, Ketner said, for most of the season to date due to a couple of positive tests and the resultant quarantines. Friday was the team's first meet back as a whole.
Whitehall, competing for the first time in over two weeks due to its own pause on activity, earned a strong third-place finish, edging Mona Shores by two points. The Vikings didn't win any individual events, but had several solid finishes, the highest of which was Wesley Russell's second-place in the shot put (43-7) and Taden Brandel's second-place in the 300 hurdles (44.06).
Montague placed fifth, led by Walker Martin, who earned the top spot in shot put (43-11) and also took second in discus (116-8). Dylan Everett added a second-place in long jump (20-2.5).