In a loaded field at Saturday’s 54th Annual Eldon Draime/Al Geisler Memorial All-City Track and Field Meet, no female was better at jumping than Lakeview’s Stephanie Niemann.
And in the boys’ competition, no sprinter was as fast as Battle Creek Central’s Eric Traylor.
And after Niemann and Traylor finished the event at Battle Creek Central with four city titles to each of their names, both were selected as the meet’s Most Outstanding Athletes.
“I didn’t think I was going to this year, I thought it would harder because I know Harper has really good athletes and I know there are a bunch of good athletes in the city,” said Niemann, who took home the honor for the second straight year. “I was nervous about it, but I just came into the meet thinking that I had to try my best and give my all, and whatever I did had to be good enough. Obviously, today it was. I’m happy about it and happy about my team. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Traylor also admitted he had doubts before sprinting his way to the podium four times.
“I’m very excited. I didn’t know I could do it,” Taylor said. “I just did it through hard work. It was a huge goal… I wasn’t worried, just run. Don’t worry about anybody else, just run — that’s what my coach told me. I’m just honored.”
Niemann’s efforts helped the Lakeview girls’ team claim its fifth consecutive All-City title, as the Spartans finished with 227.5 points. Harper Creek was second with 175.5, St. Philip was third with 53, Pennfield was fourth with 29 and Battle Creek Central was fifth with 28.
“I know Harper was missing a couple kids, which played into our favor. But the girls really stepped up today,” said Lakeview girls’ coach Becky Pryor. “They looked like a completely different team compared to last Tuesday when we lost to Harper in the dual meet. We came here focused on what we needed to do, and they all ran to their best, threw to their best or jumped to their best. We had some PRs (personal records) all over the place today, and just had a really good day.”
Niemann led Lakeview with victories in the 100 hurdles (17.23-seconds), the 300 hurdles (48.89), the high jump (4-feet, 11-inches) and was the anchor on the Spartans’ winning 400 relay team (52.43) along with Megan Manu, Lily Steinecke and Hannah Emery.
Other city titles for the Lakeview girls’ squad included Leah Deboe in the 400 dash (1:03.19); Emery in the pole vault (10-3); and the 800 relay team of Steinecke, Manu, Samantha Vosburg and Deboe (1:50.10).
Harper Creek’s Ayrianna Smith took home titles in the 200 dash (27.54) and the 100 dash (12.91) — the latter providing the meet’s most exciting finish as her time edged second-place Alexis Williams of Lakeview by 1/10th of a second.
Also claiming city titles for the Beavers were Reagan Dishaw in the 800 run (2:30.70); Laecey Foster in the long jump (15-9); Emmaray Laxton in the shot put (31-9); Chelsea Smith in the discus (107-0); the 3,200 relay team of Kenzie Callahan, Hannah Berning, Dishaw and Charley Andrews (10:24.0); and the 1,600 relay team of Callahan, Lexus Kerr, Emily Rivera and Dishaw (4:17.64)
St. Philip was led by Avan Strenge, who posted city championships in the 1,600 run (5:36.97) and the 3,200 run (11:48.5).
In the boys’ competition, Lakeview continued its run atop the city as the Spartans claimed their fifth straight All-City title with 193 points. Battle Creek Central was second with 153, Harper Creek was third with 106, St. Philip was fourth with 39 and Pennfield was fifth with 30.
“We have good depth this year, some kids really came through for us,” said Lakeview boys coach Matt Miller. “Battle Creek Central really gave us a run for our money early today, they had a nice lead on us. We did pretty good in the middle distance races, and I’m just real proud of their willingness and ability to compete. The kids really came through at the end.”
While Lakeview won the team competition, BCC’s Traylor earned the Most Outstanding Male Athlete honor thanks to victories in the 100 dash (11.31), 200 dash (23.35) and as a member of the winning 400 relay team with Cyntell Williams, Malik Thompson and Joe Watson (45.18) and the 800 relay team with Williams, Joseph Bowser II and Thompson (1:34.0).
The Spartans were led by victories from Jalen Evans in the 800 run (1:59.77); Forrest Cope in the 1,600 run (4:44.98); Donnie Ernsberger in the 110 hurdles (15.73) and the shot put (47-4.5); Kevin Smith in the 300 hurdles (41.96); the 3,200 relay team of Evans, Brandon VanOosten, Jon Haadsma and Cope (8:34.96); and the 1,600 relay team of Evans, Cope, Watson and TJ Nunley (3:33.03).
Battle Creek Central’s other city champions were Brandon Randle in the long jump (21-2) and Timothy Pike in the discus (129-5).
Harper Creek saw city titles from Khylen Watkins in the 400 dash (51.69); Brad Thomas in the 3,200 run (10:30.63); and Tyler Shaw in the pole vault (12-6).
St. Philip was led by Tyler Hubbard-Neil, who won the city title in the high jump (5-11).