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Anna Burk of Western High School attempts to clear the bar in the high jump during the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 state track and field meet at Zeeland on Saturday.  Photo by Jeff Steers,  JTV Sports.

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

The Western High School girls’ track and field team had high hopes of winning a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 state title on Saturday. 

When it became apparent the Panthers could not catch Petoskey for the state title, Western did the next best thing and earned a runner-up trophy by finishing well in the last race of the season.

Petoskey finished with 48 points at the D-2 meet at Zeeland, Western was second scoring 29, and Bridgeport was third with 26 points.

“These girls are such an athletic bunch,” WHS Coach Taylor Belote said. “The hard work they have put out the last few years has paid off.”

Belote said numerous juniors on the team who were also part of the team that advance to the Division 2 girls’ basketball semifinals. 

“They are so tough on themselves,” Belote said. “The biggest thing we needed for today was clean handoffs.”

Seven runner earned all-state honors by placing in the top eight in various events.

Junior Alyna Lewis set another school record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 16.62 seconds. She finished in third place in the event for Western.

Anna Burk finished sixth in the 300-meter hurdles in a time of 47.88 seconds. 

The Panthers finished second in the 400-meter relay in 50.62 seconds with a team of Lewis, Lilli Luma, Rosine Oloni, and Jocie Berry. 

Senior Lily Kucharek finished fifth in the shot put with a best throw of 38-7. 

The Panthers finished second in the 1,600-meter relay to secure second place and a mitten trophy. Western finished in 4:05 with a team of Burk, Luma, Lewis, and Kendall Robertson. 

The Panthers enjoyed a successful season by being undefeated in dual meets; taking first place at the Ralph Rice Invitational; taking second place at Olivet and Stockbridge; securing back-to-back – excluding COVID-19 year- Interstate Eight Conference championships; doing the same in regional competitions; placing third in the Division 2 MITCA team state meet; having seven first place finishes at the James R. Selby Meet; and having three broken school records – Kucharek in the shot and disc and Lewis in the 800-meter run.

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