By Colin McCaw
Over the past decade, the Vicksburg boys track program has been one of the most successful in the area, often making it to the top of the conference, regional, and statewide standings. But this year, they placed ninth at their regional meet and sixth place in the conference.
However, with a roster of 40 underclassmen, and with many of those underclassmen showing promise and growth, Coaches Dave Smith and John Kachniewicz know that success looms on the horizon.
“Youth hurts,” said Smith. “Seniors tend to get out in the winter and put the miles in; freshmen and sophomores just don’t do that. They will this year; I can promise you that.”
With a more experienced group returning next year, the Bulldogs will likely be much improved. “We are hopeful that they all come back next year. If they do, we will be solid,” said Kachniewicz.
As for this season, the Bulldogs have performed admirably considering their youth, probably the result of senior leadership.
Senior leader Dustin Fuller said, “We taught everyone, everything.”
Without the senior leadership, the Bulldogs might not have posted a stellar record of 4-1 in their dual meets this season, an impressive feat considering their youth, and considering their only loss was a heartbreaker at the hands of an Otsego team that placed second at the division 2, region 11 meet.
Beyond their solid dual meet record, the boys won the Bangor invite, adding more hardware to the program’s already crowded trophy case.
Some standout performances this year came from both upper and lowerclassmen. At the Wolverine Conference meet, senior Luke Mallery, pole vaulted 11 feet and placed fifth. Other standouts at the conference meet included senior high jumper, Alex Knox, and sophomore jumper, Jude Wisser who both jumped 6’1″ and placed within the top six.
This feat was especially impressive for Wisser, who two weeks prior to the conference meet was injured at the Jim Long Invitational at Kalamazoo Central High School. The conference meet was his first meet back and he set his own personal record with his jump.
Another standout performer for the Bulldogs this year was senior hurdler Liam Ward, who came within two tenths of a second of the school record in the 110-meter hurdles, running a blistering time of 15.04 at the Allegan invitational. Beyond running a blazing time in the 110’s, Ward was also a standout in the 300-meter hurdles. In this event, he qualified for the MHSAA Individual State Track meet, as he ran an impressive time of 41.62 and placed second at the regional meet.
While this season may not have met the high standards of the Vicksburg track program, the coaches are realistic in their expectations.
“We placed higher than we were seeded at the beginning of the year. That’s impressive,” said Kachniewicz.
Smith is pleased with his team’s hard work this season, but not necessarily with the sixth place conference finish.
“I don’t like coming in sixth,” he said. “If you would’ve asked me a year ago if I would be satisfied with a sixth place finish in the conference, I would’ve said absolutely not. But we ran the best times we could, and the kids came to practice every day and kept getting better, so I am satisfied with how our team performed.”