Titan Relay Write Up

*Yup, only took 2 re-writes and 10 days to get this together – sorry!*

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford


It’s hard to believe how deep into the season we already are!  With Golden Triangle Invite just around the corner it means we have a little over a month left in the spring season. Our boys are starting reap the benefits of all the hard work that they’ve put in over the last year and you can see the entire team starting to really click.  The Titan Relays at Stevenson High School (not the Livonia one as Coach thought) was an unique opportunity to see a number of teams from the Macomb area that we never get a chance to compete against – it was very refreshing and exciting to be at a meet and not see “the same old teams” from our area.  With illness and some wear & tear showing on the distance boys, we left a number of the older guys behind and took a smaller team to the meet so they could focus on a couple of events each and have some fun in the sun!

The 4x800m got the day started nicely with Jacob Thomas (2:13.1) leading off the relay.  Jacob managed to get out well during the 1st lap, but started to fade a little throughout the 2nd lap of the race as his legs aren’t 100% back under him, but did a nice job holding the guys in the top 5. Receiving the baton 30m behind 4th and 60m behind the leaders was Garret Peck (2:09.7) who took off guns ablaze and not only caught up to the 4th place team but then overtook 3rd overall by 250m into the race.  Garrett continued the strong effort throughout the 2nd lap and made up tremendous ground on the top 2 teams. Garrett was able to hand-off the baton in 3rd place, but also went under the 2:10 barrier for the first time – nice work!  Cooper Klein-Kassab (2:14.5) found himself in an unfamiliar situation at first; being stuck in no man’s land with a teams 25m ahead and 25m behind. Although he was running a solo effort, he knew the pressure was on with 2 teams behind him looking to overtake him, but Cooper was determined to keep the team in position and picked up a big PR on the way!  Sabir Islam (2:13.3) anchored the relay, racing  determined and with confidence cruised through the opening lap, but had some teams starting to creep up on him.  In the bend, the team from Ferndale caught up to Sabir, but he responded with their anchor’s moves, surging to stay with him stride for stride with 250m left, 200m left and again with 125m left.  Ultimately, Sabir started to run out of gas as the Ferndale team pulled away, but like the 3 guys before him, Sabir came off the track with a new 800m PR!

Up next was the 4x200m, which has quickly become a very strong and reliable cog on our team. The group of Brandon Boyd, Jacob Windsor, Kyle Sowell-Peeples and Tim Nelson-Slaton has consistent been in the mix and competing for victories at every meet we’ve been to. Today was no different (business as usual) as Boyd kicked off the relay with a strong effort (23.14) and handed the baton off to Sowell-Peeples tied for the lead. After taking a clean hand-off, Kyle kept the momentum going, sailing down the home stretch fighting against 2 other teams in the lanes next to him, getting the baton to Jacob maybe a ½ stride behind the other 2 teams. Looking like a master of the bend, Jacob immediately regained the lead before getting to the straight away opening up a 5-10m cushion for Tim.  With one last smooth exchange, Tim at first looked to be pressed by the team from Fraser, but pulled away with 125m left and cruised to victory running a 23.01 split and a final time of 1:34.60.

The 3x3200m was the only event that was not scored by final time, but by place (Cross Country style), adding up the 3 finishers places and the team with the lowest score wins. Sam Jyawook (10:27) led the way for us with a new PR. Sam ran a very aggressive race strategy going through the 1600m in 5:07 and was able to come back in the 2nd mile with little drop off. This was a great “pick me up” for Sam, because he was so disappointed in his race from Tuesday that he was adamant about running on this relay team at this meet.  Zach Reynolds (10:38-PR) & Justin Michele (10:45-PR) both ran new Personal Records running a slightly more conservative race, but it played well to their hand as they both moved up a ton through the 2nd half of the race! With the scoring format being different we actually headed home from the meet unsure of their final place, but when we opened our medal bag we were surprised with some nice 2nd place medals for the 3200m crew! Nice job fellas!

In one of the odder events of the day, the SMR (100m-100m-200m-400m) ended up placing 3rd overall out of the slower heat. “Rocket” Ryo Suzuki got the team started very well up front, getting out of the blocks with lightning fast speed, he immediately got the team into contention.  Brenden Edmunds carried the momentum well with a clean baton exchange as he and 2 other teams started to separate themselves from the pack. Jordan Tirico, with a nice sub-24.00 split (!) was able to separate from the competition and safely get the baton to Jacob Windsor. From that point, Jacob was able to only increase the lead, splitting a PR-matching 53.50 for 400m, and winning the heat by a full 50m!  By time, this crew ended up 3rd overall in this event – makes you wonder how they would have fair had they been placed into the correct heat.

Up next was the Middle Distance Relay (600m – 200m – 400m – 800m) which provided for one of the more memorable moments in the meet for two reasons; First, the relay staggers weren’t lined up correctly. Which meant that every team not in Lane 1 was going to run 15m additionally (multiplied by lane number).  We’re still not sure if the meet managers ever figured this out, but our staff caught on to it after the girls had competed (shoutout to Sophie Steinberg for her 660m lead off!). Luckily, our boys were given Lane 2 so it wasn’t a big deal, (whereas the team in Lane 6 they didn’t know they were running 690m). The second reason why this race was so memorable is what the crew of Garrett Peck, Eric Jimmerson, Alec Pinson, and Sabir Islam put together.  Garrett led-off the race very aggressively, going through the 400m in 59.5 and pulled away from the rest of the field on the final bend and posted a 1:32.70 split!  Eric Jimmerson, who has been a pleasant surprise since joining the team, kept the team in the lead with a 25.10 split for 200m.  Alec Pinson (57.30) was up next for the 400m leg and did a nice job getting out quick and keeping the lead for the team.  Competing solo is never an easy thing, but Alec did a great job of staying dialed in and knew that there were a handful of teams hoping to get a chance to catch him.  Alec was able to get the baton to Sabir with a nice lead over the team from Fraser (the rest of the field was at least 50m behind them).  Sabir had a much more conservative and hesitant start to his race than expected, but it played nicely because the anchor from Fraser was a bit overzealous and sprinted up to him then took the lead by 150m in!  Sabir was smart enough to recognize the other guy’s aggressiveness and immediately latched behind him and got pulled along for the next 300 meters. As they came around towards the 500m marker, the young man from Fraser began to pull away a little more, but Sabir dug down deep and tried to not only make up the gap but regain the lead along the back stretch. As soon as he went to make his pass, the other runner put in another surge to pull away with less than 200m left!  Trailing again and running out of distance, Sabir made on final move with 50m left in the race and while his formed stayed loose then Fraser runner began to tighten up and with a mere 10m to go Sabir made the pass for the victory! A tremendous race and an incredible showing of heart by these boys!

After what was supposed to be a “15-minute break” turned into a 45-minute ordeal, the 4x100m was finally back on the track. Rocket Ryo was the lead off and again, jumped out to lead (watching him get out of the blocks is absolutely astonishing, next time you catch the boys racing, take a moment to watch Ryo’s block work). Tim Nelson-Slaton, who is quickly becoming a complete sprinter was able to “get in and get out of the zone quick” as Coach Ro would say, which got the stick to Brendan Edmunds with a 10m lead! Brendan’s ability to run the curve well never gets old to watch and he was able to pass off the baton to Brandon Boyd who flew home for the dominating relay victory!

The Distance Medley Relay saw several boys double and triple back to form this tandem – with some wear and tear we were hoping for them to just get through this obtaining some quality race experience, but turns out they were ready for more! The only way to describe Jacob Thomas’s (3:40) part was that he came to play for real! Leading off with an aggressive leg on the relay helped put team in a great position and showed that he has come back quite a bit in terms of his fitness level! Alec Pinson, who was doubling back as well, started off looking a bit fatigued, but managed to collect himself and ran a terrific 2nd half of his leg, closing back in with the chase pack. Up next was Sam Jyawook, who was a little off of his game after a great 3200m run earlier in the day was able to build some momentum throughout the first lap, but the long day had taken it’s toll on him as he began to fade slowly, but fought with every ounce of energy to ensure that his team was still in medal contention – dude is tough!!! Anchor leg, Cooper Klein-Kassab wanted to regain much of the lost ground immediately and made some aggressive moves early on (coming through in about 68.xx at the 400m) and was able to overtake the runner from Grosse Point South, but throughout laps 2 and 3 found himself in “no-man’s land”; not a runner 25m behind him or in front of him. Going into the final lap the runner from GPS closed up on Cooper and bid his time until he final 150m to run past him, but Cooper refused to give up and fought all the way down the home stretch to split a new PR (5:09) and helped ensure the relay team to get on the board!

The final event of the day was the Field Events Athletes’ 4x100m.  This event is oftenly advertised as the “thrower’s relay”, but at this meet they encouraged teams to utilize their entire field events crew. Much of the lead up to this event involved Gabe Kardia, Hunter Goodman, Sherman Valentine and Max Hammer to practice how to hand-off a discus for a good 45-minutes.  By the time the relay teams stepped onto the track the sun had set, the stadium lights were on full-force and the track setting was electric!  It looked as if every athlete on every team was excited and ready to cheer on their Field Event Relays as an ocean of kids would run from one corner of the track to the other.  For the Eagles, Gabe Kardia was leading off and sprinted out like a madman, blowing out all the other teams getting the discus to Sherman Valentine.  The messy hand-off was bound to be, but Sherman did a great job barreling down the straightaway towards Hunter Goodman.  By the time Hunter received the discus a few other teams had passed, but Hunter was ready to showcase his Running Back speed and re-gained any momentum that was lost.  An inevitable transition crash caused for a few lost steps, but once Max Hammer had the discus secured he put on his best Usain Bolt impression and came roaring back just coming up short of victory!  The relay team did a fantastic job and finished 2nd overall, only adding to the full bag of hardware the boys collected throughout the evening.