John Raffel

Sports Scene

Chippewa Hills’ girls track team is in the middle of two impressive streaks this season, and it’s entirely possible that the Warriors will be able to keep each one going.

This year, coach Sally Schafer’s Warriors, members of the Central State Activities Association, are going for their ninth straight league title. The current streak started when the Warriors were still in the Western Waterways Activities Association.

And two victories on April 18 put the Warriors at 70 straight dual-meet victories, continuing a streak that started in the middle of the 2002 season.

Schafer’s father, Don Foreman, was a long-time Chippewa Hills boys track coach and athletic director, and he still keeps busy as a track meet starter.  Schafer took over the program in 1999. She’s a former Chippewa Hills athlete herself. But don’t ask her which streak is more impressive. It’s hard to say.

They’re both pretty impressive,” she said. “When you think of the freshmen going through now, how old were they in 2002? It’s been through different conferences and there’s different teams involved in all those championships. That’s been impressive. It’s hard to say. [Both streaks] are meaningful to me.”

Both streaks also have run into peril along the way.

I didn’t pay attention to the dual-meet streak for awhile,” Schafer said. “In 2006, we had dual meets between Ludington and Fruitport. It came down to points. We pulled them out, the conference meet came to a one-point victory. It was close; we had a good team and they had a good team. We pulled it out. It could have been snapped then, in 2006, but it wasn’t.”

It’s not that the Warriors have been facing easy opponents. They haven’t.

We’ve had some good competition over the years and have coached against some good coaches,” Schafer said. “It’s quite an accomplishment for the program. We’ve had consistency in our coaching staff. There hasn’t been huge turnover in the program. Within the boys’ program, going all the way back to my dad, there’s only been three coaches. For the girls, maybe I’m the fourth one.

There hasn’t been a lot of turnover. We’ve had great kids go through. We have a great middle school program with a coach who’s been there for a number of years. Its been the consistency within our coaching staff. We enjoy being with each other and we enjoy coaching together. It makes it that much easier to get into it and try to develop the program.”

The Warriors have been successful in a variety of events over the years.

When I first went into coaching and became the head coach, we came in last place in the league and didn’t score many points at regionals. After a couple of years, we started moving up the ladder in conference. At regionals, we got frustrated because the same teams were winning. So we thought about it and said, how did they do it – what did they have that we needed to win?” Schafer said.

It was basically across the board. They had field events. They had the pole vault.  They were deep. We were strong in middle distance and distances, but you can’t win in just that. You have to have a little of everything. We started concentrating on field events and pole vault especially. We started hitting it hard. All of a sudden, we started to have a little bit of everything, and it started coming together.”

The Warriors won regional titles in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

In 2009, the Warriors were fourth in Division 2 at the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association (MITCA) team state meet. “That was one of our best teams, and I thought we should have placed higher,” Schafer said. “We didn’t have the best of days.”

The Warriors have had individual state champs, including Krista Hixson in the pole vault in 2010. “She goes to Grand Valley now, and this year, she won nationals at the indoor meet,” Schafer said.

Schafer hopes to keep the streaks going, but she realizes that it won’t be easy this year.

They look like they have a lot of potential. We’re very young,” she said. “I have three-quarters freshmen. But they’re a very good group of freshmen. We went to the Mohawk relays and we did win. There’s a lot of room for improvement and a lot of coaching and learning that will go on. By the end of the year, they’ll be in contention for the conference and a regional, hopefully.”

As for the dual-meet streak, “I think our league is stronger this year. There will be some good competition in the league. We have high goals. It’s a goal to keep it going. The conference championship is important.”

The Warriors, who have won nine straight Central State Activities Association titles, opened the CSAA season with victories of 93-44 over Big Rapids and 99-38 over Central Montcalm at home. Big Rapids beat Central Montcalm 77-57.

In the boys’ meet, it was also double delight for the Warriors, who won 99-38 over Central Montcalm and 85-52 over Big Rapids. The Cardinals had an 86.5-50.5 victory over Central Montcalm.

For the Chippewa Hill girls, first places were earned by Jacki Sheaffer in the 200-meter dash (28.53 seconds); Kylie Schafer in the 400-meter dash (1:05.59); and Megan O’Neil in the 800-meter run (2:30.28), the 1,600-meter run (5:24.02), and the 3,200-meter run (12:05.90).

It was a good day,” O’Neil said. “It was the first outdoor actual meet. I’m feeling really strong coming into it.”

Also taking firsts for Chippewa Hills were Jacki Sheaffer, Emonee Anderson, Sara Gonzalez, and Arielle Esch in the 800-meter relay (1:56.11); Larissa Umbleby, Schafer, Anderson, and Emily Starck in the 1,600-meter relay (4:30.19); O’Neil, Kazia Cooper, Courtney Dennis, and Umbleby in the 3,200-meter relay (10:39.90); Anderson in the high jump (4’10”), Erin Drouillard in the pole vault (9’6″), and Corey Robison in the discus (102’3″).

I think they did really well,” said Schafer. “We had some personal bests today, which will hopefully happen a lot since we have young kids. But I thought they ran really well.”

Anderson, a freshman, won the high jump with a personal best. “It was across the board,” Schafer said. “It was a good team effort. For some of the girls, it was their first varsity meet. They got their feet wet.”