South's Ersula Farrow is an All-State runner who should excel this spring for the Blue Devils' track and field team. photo by Bob Bruce.
April 03, 2014Grosse Pointe South's track and field teams are once again poised to enjoy a fruitful spring.
Even with the graduation of state and national record holders Hannah and Haley Meier (Duke) and All-State performers Aubryn Samaroo (Brown), Christina Firl (Columbia) and Mia Perkins (Alabama), the Grosse Pointe South girls' track team is on target for another banner year.
With 118 girls on the team, depth will not be an issue.
"Team depth has always been our signature," head coach Steve Zaranek said.
"We don't struggle to fill the 17 events with quality young ladies. We simply work on finding the right fit for everyone on the team."
Last year marked the third consecutive Division 1 state championship for the Blue Devils. During the past three seasons, the Blue Devils broke school and MAC league records in just about every event, along with numerous all-time state and even national records.
South was constantly ranked as Michigan's No. 1 track team and also ranked in the nation's top five. While not at that level this year, the Blue Devils are primed to compete at the highest state level.
The Macomb Area Conference Red Division is loaded with talent. Last year, Macomb Dakota finished just behind South at the Division 1 finals in fourth place and returns most of their top athletes.
"Dakota will be a huge challenge, once again, this year," Zaranek said. "Our meet last year was a classic with the outcome determined by the final event."
South won the meet and has a 6-year dual meet win streak in place.
"This year will be no different - Dakota is the team to beat in the MAC Red," Zaranek said.
South's other goals include winning its sixth straight state regional title. The girls have raced to 18 state regional titles in the past 21 years.
Leading the way for the Blue Devils are two of Michigan's finest - junior Ersula Farrow and senior Jasmine Brathwaite. Farrow is currently ranked the No. 2 high school half miler (800 meters) in the nation and Brathwaite is coming off a multiple all-state performance at last years state finals in the 100 dash and sprint relays.
"Ersula and Jazz have enormous talent and have worked hard all winter long," Zaranek said. "They are ready to perform at the next level."
Farrow is surrounded by several of the Blue Devils' finest distance runners in school history.
"We are blessed, year after year, with very hard working distance runners, which include sophomore Anna Piccione, juniors Mary Spencer and Megan Sklarski, and seniors Alexa Calas and Kelsie Schwartz," Zaranek said. "Freshman Kamryn Leonard will add to South's distance depth."
Brathwaite is also in good company. South is again solid in the sprints, as she is joined by sophomore Kayli Johnson and juniors Christy Ford and Elise Grever.
Grever also joins Tamira McCoy-Motton to give the team great depth in the high jump. Johnson also pulls double duty as South's No. 1 returning shot putter.
South also returns a veteran group of pole vaulters in seniors Hannah Adams, Lisa Conley and Janey Degnan. In the hurdles, junior Spencer Graczyk will be joined by sister Kendall in both the 100 and 300 hurdles.
"We look forward to an exciting and competitive season," Zaranek said. "We will go after our league and state regional titles again this year. We will attempt to get into the top five, out of the 150 Division 1 teams, at the state finals.
"Most importantly, we will continue our traditions of being great teammates, working harder than anyone, and having lots of fun along the way.".
As for the boys, head coach Werner Schienke is counting on a plethora of returning runners to lead the team through a rigorous MAC Red Division slate.
Some of the top potential seniors could be Elondo Moore, Jacob Knuth, Josh Gray, Andrew Barbish, Brett Kotas, Charlie Warren and Jordan Spratt, while underclassmen Estafano Lopez, Michael Gates, Jalen Cook were solid in field events.
The Blue Devils finished 2-3 in the division a year ago. Can they move to the .500 mark or even contend for the dual meet title in 2014?
The Blue Devils' competitors are Grosse Pointe North, Romeo, Macomb Dakota, Utica Eisenhower and Sterling Heights Stevenson.
The boys' schedule includes the five division meets, as well as two invitationals, the league meet and regional meet.