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Metro Detroit high school track notebook: Divine Child boys succeeding with experience

In trying to return Dearborn Divine Child to its success in years past, coach Randy Williams has constructed a roster laden with upperclassmen that has the ability to do just that.

Divine Child showcased its ability at the Eighth Courageous Invitational at Wayne State on April 30, taking second out of a field of 21 teams. The Falcons followed up their impressive performance with a third-place finish at the Mark Carpenter Invitiational, an event that had 30 teams participate, at Divine Child on May 6.

Williams said his team’s continuous improvement has provided a clear view of the future.

“Everyone on the team does have potential to bring us back to where we were a few years ago,” Williams said.

The athletes at the forefront of that success are throwers Brady (senior) and Isaiah (junior) Ploucha, junior Michael Hegarty (1,600 and 3,200), freshman Colin Murray (800, 1,600, 3,200) and junior Nathan Ulcak (800, 1,600, and 3,200). Murray earned second in the 800 meters at the Courageous Invitational, while Ulcak secured first in the 1,600 meters.

Brady and Isaiah finished first and second, respectively, in the shot put and discus. The Ploucha brothers have served as a focal point for Divine Child in the throwing events.

“We knew (Brady) was going to be ready,” Williams said. “(Isaiah's) borderline one of the best 10 to 12 throwers in the state.”

Sprinters Anton Senerpida (senior), John Arriola (senior) and Ayden Shumpert (sophomore) have contributed consistent scores as well.

Divine Child has returned to form since the COVID season in 2020 flatlined a team Williams said he felt was one of the best in the state.

The Falcons faced a difficult transition last year that delayed potential success, but now Williams said that everything seems to be back to where it was.

“It hasn’t been like this for three years,” Williams said. “Most of the coaches said how nice the weather was and said how they felt like track was finally back.”

Divine Child’s next step toward a possible run in the state meet will be the Catholic League championship on May 14 at Detroit Catholic Central.

Lake Orion making noise in OAA

Sporting an undefeated record in dual meets, the Lake Orion boys team has entered the conversation as a potential state-title threat.

Led by all-state senior Stephen Brown, Lake Orion coach Stan Ford possesses a talented roster capable of winning the OAA Red-White Championship and to carry that momentum into regionals.

“We have good guys in a lot of events, and that makes us dangerous,” Ford said. “If a team has a weakness somewhere, we can take advantage of that.

Lake Orion showcased that at the New Balance Invitational on May 7 at Farmington High School, finishing in third, one point shy of second place, without Brown competing.

The Dragons weren't at full strength, but Ford and his guys displayed their biggest strength this year.

“That depth has been a big part of who we are this year,” Ford said.

Senior Clayton Kuiper finished second in the 1,600 meters, while senior Joseph Thede posted a second-place finish in the 110-meter hurdles. Senior Joshua Trudell was fourth in the 300-meter hurdles.

Lake Orion’s most impressive meet this season was the Elmer Ball Oxford Invitational on April 30, where it finished first with 107 points (second place was 80) against a field of rival OAA teams.

Brown tallied two second-place finishes in the 100 and 200 meters, while junior Luke Peardon was third in the 800 meters. Kuiper finished first in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.

Lake Orion will enter the OAA Red-White Championship meet on May 13 at Oxford High School with confidence, but Ford said he’s looking for more than just that.

“Sometimes, with a meet like this, it’s not always about getting better, but rather being competitive,” Ford said. “I look for them to be competitive and have that part; they can gain the confidence and apply that to the regional meet.”

Churchill’s young core thriving

After finishing tied for 36th at the Division I state meet last year, Livonia Churchill's girls team has rebounded and displayed significant improvement this season.

Churchill was third in the New Balance Invitational on May 7 at Farmington High School with 49 points.

Sophomore Morgan Brown placed third in the 800 meters and Whitney Ricks seventh. Brown, who’s been a reliable scorer for Churchill this year, followed up the 800 meters with a second-place finish in the 1,600 meters.

Churchill got support in the hurdles behind senior Elizabeth Tracy’s fourth and third-place finish in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, respectively.

Freshman Alex Dumas has stepped up for Churchill coach Rebecca Barnes. Dumas placed second in the long jump.

With a young core providing early for Churchill, it’ll be something to watch when they compete at the KLAA Championship meet at Novi High School on May 17.

Jonathan Szczepaniak is a freelance writer.