Saline went into Friday’s SEC Red championship meet at Huron as slight favorites. They left as the undisputed conference champs.
Saline piled up 200.833 points to Pioneer’s 121.833 points to come away with the conference title.
It was Saline’s eighth straight conference title.
Saline coach Al Leslie praised his “water dogs” after victory on a rainy, chilly day at Huron High School.
“Looking at all the events, we figured if we did what we were supposed to do and Pioneer did what they were supposed to do, we’d beat them by a couple points,” Leslie said. “But we came out right away and did better than we expected. We got points in the high jump where we thought we might get shut out. Then our 4-by-800 team comes out and sets the tone on the track by winning big there. We got off to a great start and we never looked back.”.
Athletes who finished in the top 3 earned all-conference honors.
In the field, Eric Harris won the pole vault, clearing 16-01. Trevor Garbo was SEC Red champ in the shot put, throwing 47-02.
Christopher Chuparkoff won the 400 meter dash and finished second to Huron’s Lewis Willis in the 100 and 200 meter dash. Chuparkoff won the 400 with a time of 49.87, leading a 1-2-3 Saline finish. Winford Walker, 51.9, was second and Jack Fenelon, 51.94, was third. Chuparkoff was .05 seconds behind Lewis in the 100 dash, finishing in 11.28. It was the same margin of victory in the 200 dash, with Chuparkoff taking second in 22.55. Winford Walker was third in 22.94.
Chuparkoff, Walker, Fenelon and Myles Griffin won the 4-by-200 relay in 1:31.1.
Senior Anthony DeKraker won the 3200 meter race, winning with ease in 9:37.26. DeKraker was also second in the 1600 meter race, finishing in 4:17.4.
DeKraker, Cam Bacarella, Joshua Cook and William Downey won the 4-by-800 relay in 7:56.72 to set the tone for Saline.
Harris and Kyle Greenwood finished second and third in the long jump. Harris leaped 19-08 and Greenwood went 19-07.5. Davis Klein finished second in the high jump, clearing 5-05. Garbo threw 129-06 in the discus to finish third.
Saline’s 4-by-100 team of Eric Harris, Nicholas Patteri, Jamari Harris-Pryce and Myles Griffin finished second in the 4-by-100 (44.46).
Saline’s 4-by-400 relay team finished third (3:35.2). Fenelon, Walker, DeKraker and Bacarella were credited with running the race.
Coach Leslie said his Hornets came to win and accomplished their mission.
“I’m proud of the guys. They all came out and did their jobs. They competed in tough conditions and they won the conference,” Leslie said. “These guys, especially the seniors, they wanted to win the SEC. They put in a lot of work and they got it done. A lot of track teams never get to win a conference championship. It’s something nobody can ever take from you.”
Saline now turns its attention to the regional, scheduled for Friday at Saline High School. The Hornets have won straight seven regionals – but Pioneer will push them with a lineup that’s perhaps better suited for winning a regional. Saline isn’t going to roll over and give it away, either. But the Hornets are also trying to get as many athletes as possible through to the state meet.
“It’s a delicate balancing act. But if you talk to the seniors, they’ll sacrifice individual accolades for team success,” Leslie said.