The Pioneer girls’ track and field team will line up on Saturday at East Kentwood High School ready, willing and more than able to defend its Division 1 state championship. The Pioneers won last year’s finals after finishing second the previous year and are expected to be in contention once again.
But this year there will be some very strong teams lining up to knock them off the top spot.
“I think winning again this year would be a very long shot,” said Pioneer Coach Nancy Shafer Boudreau. “Both Rockford and Oak Park qualified more girls than Pioneer and both should be fighting for the title. However, I look for strong performances from the Pioneer girls who will be competing.”
The Pioneers have had an amazing season.
They ran away with the Regional title last week, crossing the finish line with 142 points, 39 points better than second-place Skyline. Pioneer had several Regional individual champions: Jayla Johnson in the 100 hurdles (16.00), Tiffany Cernej-Garcia in the 300 hurdles (46.68), Anne Forsyth in the 1600 (4:57.01) and 3200 (10:32.75) and Derin Adunbi in the shot put. Pioneer’s 4×800 relay team of Forsyth, Cunningham, Kim Cernej-Garcia, and Zofia Dudek took first in 9:26.19.
The Pioneers won the SEC Red Meet at Huron with 207 points. Saline was second with 143 points followed by Skyline in third with 139.5 points.
“We have had a tremendous group of very talented girls who have been very dedicated and who have worked very hard,” Shafer Boudreau said. “We have also had a great group of assistant coaches working with the girls.”
And the times they are a changing at Pioneer.
SEE LIST OF ALL STATE QUALIFIERS: https://weloveannarbor.com/2018/05/31/track-field-complete-list-of-ann-arbor-school-qualifiers/
“We lost some very good athletes this year,” Shafer Boudreau said. “The team is younger than usual, but everyone has really stepped up and are very dedicated.”
Pioneer’s strength is in the middle/long distances and hurdles. Both the 4×800 and 4×400 relay teams should do well at states. Pioneer also had two girls qualify in the field events for the first time in several years.
Pioneer women had a streak of three consecutive State Championships from 2006-2008. In the fall of 2008, Skyline HS opened with their first freshman class. At that point, the success of Pioneer at the State meet started to fall as the Pioneers finishing third, fourth, seventh, eighth and 15th.
In 2014, the team started to rebound, finishing in eighth and then fifth in Coach Westfield’s last year at PHS in 2015.
“The last two years the Pioneer girls finished second and first,” Shafer Boudreau said. “I believe that this success is from Pioneer finally recovering from the loss of students when Skyline opened and an extremely talented bunch of girls.”
Speaking of Skyline, the talented Eagles landed second at Regionals to Pioneer and will be well represented at the state finals.