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Dragon thinclads take county meet



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Senior Charles Maurer, left, gains on his opponents in the 110m hurdle. Photo by G. Ouzounian. (click for larger version)
May 30, 2012 - The Dragons of the track came to the Oakland County Championship on May 25 intending to win the meet, but they didn't expect win as well as they did.

Lake Orion became the champions of Oakland County and became the first team since 1997 to break 100 points doing so. The second place team had 47.

"That was a good day for us," said Head Coach Stan Ford. "The county meet actually keeps records from the early 1960s from all the team champions and the last time we won the meet was in 1993 with 76 points. I'm really happy for my boys, they've worked hard and earned this.

"This is the best team LOHS has ever had, no two ways about it."

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The meet, which went to Novi Catholic Central for the past three years, was a different event for Ford's team this year. Novi came to the event uncharacteristically weak while the Dragons showed up with a large degree of team depth, allowing them to place fitting athletes in nearly every event. Ford said Southfield and Avondale both concerned him as well due to good sprinters, a mid-distance runner and relay runners but added in the they had trouble matching up against the better balanced Dragons.

Ford said during the county meet, moves in the atheletes' events are common and Lake Orion was no exception. While he said the moves were somewhat risky, they paid off in the end and allowed runners like junior T.J. Carey to do well in the two mile while avoiding other events that might have worn him down.

In victory, the boys also broke three school relay records, which were shattered earlier in the year by the same runners.

The relay team of sophomores Corey Ester, Zach Arnold, Chris Leigh and senior Nick Balavich broke the 400 meter relay record with a time of 42.82 seconds. The same team minus Leigh and substituting junior Josef Deneau broke the record for the 800 meter relay record with a time of 128.16 seconds. Substituting Deneau for sophomore David Diaz let the runners break the 1600 meter relay record with a time of 3:20.98 minutes.

All record breaking runs for the relay teams were first place wins.

The heat of the afternoon was small factor during the meet according to Ford because while the high temperatures would make a bad day of distance events, the sprinters "like the heat."

"It was pretty hot early on but the sprinters like that because it makes them looser," said Ford. "In the cold weather the sprinters tighten up and it makes it harder for them to run. It worked out nicely because later it cooled off for the two mile run and the distance guys like it cooler."

The previous year, the Dragons were hindered by an illness that prevented Carey from running. But Ford said nothing could get in their way this year.

The runners are almost done for 2012, but last is the State Meet which takes place in East Kentwood on June 2. For said the meet will be a "different animal" from the County Meet, noting that while depth helps a team at the latter event, "states" tend to favor individual stars.

"If you can have outstanding individuals, you can win the whole thing with five or six kids and with 40 or 50 points," said Ford. "I always use Farmington Hills Harrison as an example - we ran them in duel meets some years back and beat them every times. They actually entered states with a losing record on duel meets but with their outstanding sprinters they won the state meet. Depth is important in a duel meet because you spread your talent around and do well across the board, but the points are spread so thin with all the people at state meet it once let one kid win the whole thing by himself."

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