In five seasons with Ypsilanti Arbor Prep, Rod Wells’ coaching record is an eye-popping 102-17. But his six-year coaching career record is 102-38, which is even more eye-popping once you do the math and notice how he started.
“I was at (Ann Arbor) Skyline for their inaugural season and had pretty much sophomores and juniors, we went 0-21,” he said. “I started with the freshmen that year and the head coach decided to leave, and I ended up with the varsity job. But it was a great thing because it taught me how to start a program, so when Arbor Prep opened up five years ago, I already had experience starting a program.”
WE ARE MARSHALL: The Class B champion Redhawks were different from other teams at the Breslin Center because they didn’t have one player stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. That balance showed in the championship 51-42 win over Grand Rapids South Christian: starters Emily Delmotte, Nicole Tucker, Carlee Long, Taryn Long and Jill Konkle each hit two or three field goals, all scoring between six and 13 points apiece.
“Our top seven players have been our high scorers this season,” said Delmotte, the team’s only senior. “We all work hard and that’s important. If you have your superstar and they’re off that day, who do you go to? If there’s one of us who was off, somebody else stepped up. If someone was sick, or somebody was having something going on, we didn’t skip a beat; we kept going.
“It’s crazy and it’s just amazing, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR: The St. Francis girls were the seventh team that coach Keith Haske has guided to the Breslin Center, and so far Haske has yet to claim the ultimate prize. Formerly the coach at Charlevoix, his boys lost in the 1999 Class C semifinals to Bath, in the 2001 finals to Kalamazoo Christian, the 2004 finals to Saginaw Buena Vista and the 2007 semis to Saginaw Nouvel. Haske also led the Charlevoix girls to the 2004 finals, losing to Detroit DePorres, and his St. Francis boys’ squad lost in the 2012 finals to Flint Beecher. His Gladiator squad graduates only three seniors, so it’s possible Haske will have another shot or two at a championship.
TO THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE: Payton Sims, Zakiya Wells and Karlee Morris never won a state championship for Arbor Prep, but the three, who graduated last year, went 88-15 in four seasons and set the pace for this year’s squad, Wells said. “That was a hard-working group, that was a special group; they taught these ladies how to play,” he said. “Three of our starters were coming off the bench last year, but they got beat up by those seniors ever since ninth grade. I kept telling people we were going to be good; those girls really performed against my seniors, they were never afraid of them. They took those lessons that they learned, and that’s what took them to the top.”
TROPHIES FOR TRAVERSE: Although Traverse City St. Francis didn’t win in Class C, senior center Lauren McDonnell was quick to defend her school by listing the Gladiators’ athletic accomplishments this school year. The girls’ cross-country and ski teams won a state title, boys’ tennis and skiing finished as runners-up, and the football and volleyball teams went to the semifinals.
“And we’re just getting into the spring season, and we’re going to see great things from our baseball, our softball and our track teams,” she said.