Adams filed this report from the Meet of Champions
BAD AXE — A year ago, Alyssa Bennett was running junior high track.
Back then, she was unsure of what events she wanted to participate in.
Fast forward to this past fall and the cross country season. There, Bennett excelled by winning nearly every race she entered and just missing All-State honors in Division 3.
After the successful cross country season, it was a given that the talented freshman would win plenty of races in the track season.
“When I was in middle school, it was all about the smaller runs,” said Bennett. “But then I did cross country, and I figured I was good at distance.”
Tuesday, at the 39th Annual Huron Daily Tribune Meet of Champions, Bennett ran a grueling schedule only a few dare to attempt — and it helped her capture Female Athlete of the Meet honors.
Her day started by running the anchor leg of the 3,200 relay that placed second.
She then stretched her legs, easily completing four laps to win the 1,600 (5:34.12).
After a brief rest, the 800 was next. She won by more than 10 seconds with a season-best time of 2:27.57.
Her final event was the toughest, eight laps in the 3,200. She was tired, but the outcome of the race was never in doubt as she turned in a time of 12:09.15.
Bennett’s schedule was nothing new as she was asked to do it in nearly every meet this season by her coach Amy Cuthrell.
“She raced four miles every single meet and never once complained. She trains like no other,” said Cuthrell. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had an athlete of her talent. I don’t know if we’re there yet. The doors are open for her to improve. She has not peaked.
“She’s a great kid and I’m so proud of her.”
Bennett was the top qualifier in the 3,200 by over 20 seconds, but due to the nature of the Huron Daily Tribune Meet of Champions, her break between the 800 and 3,200 was minimal.
“There was like just a five minute break between the 800 and the two mile,” she said. “I just said that I’m here for all the right reasons. God gave me this gift and I’m going to use it, so I just went.”
On June 4, Bennett will get her first chance to compete at the state finals where she is qualified in three events, the 3,200 relay, 1,600 and 3,200.
She thinks she can improve on her times, and is looking forward to the experience.
“I feel like I have a lot more room, but I have to work hard,” she said. “I feel like I’ve worked hard, but there’s a lot more I think I can do. If you think and you believe it, then it’s possible.”
Cuthrell spotted Bennett running track in junior high and saw her talent immediately.
The bond between the two quickly grew beyond athlete and coach.
“We’re very close, she’s like my own,” Cuthrell said. “If anybody on the team should or could complain about me being brutal and hard, it’s her. I’m hard on her.
“I want the best for Alyssa. She is very, very talented, but she’s also a bright young lady.”
Added Bennett: “She’s always there for me no matter what time of the day or night. I’ve went through a lot with Mrs. C.”
Harbor Beach’s Janelle Kirsch was the only other multiple winner of individual events. She began her day by taking the pole vault (9-0) and also placed first in the 100 hurdles (17.21). She was also third in the 300 hurdles.
Bad Axe’s Taylor Wolschlager had a fine day, winning the 200 (28.43). She was also a part of the winning 400, 800 and 1,600 relays.
Here are the top three finishers in each event:
100: 1. Kara Flynn, Bad Axe (13.67); 2. Makenzie Tolin, Bad Axe (13.91); 3. Briana Lemke, Ubly (13.99)
200: 1. Taylor Wolschlager, Bad Axe (28.43); 2. Kaitlyn Grifka, Bad Axe (28.88); 3. Michalla Fader, USA (29.37)
400: 1. Cassie Hanson, Bad Axe (1:02.17); 2. Haley Wynn, Cass City (1:02.65); 3. Gala Shivley, EPBP (1:04.02)
800: 1. Alyssa Bennett, Cass City (2:27.57); 2. Crystal Schaible, Bad Axe (2:38.99); 3. Ashley Potts, Cass City (2:41.47)
1,600: 1. Alyssa Bennett, Cass City (5:34.12); 2. Hailey Richards, Bad Axe (5:42.05); 3. Crystal Schaible, Bad Axe (5:46.80)
3,200: 1. Alyssa Bennett, Cass City (12:09.15); 2. Hailey Richards, Bad Axe (12:22.30); 3. Ashley Potts, Cass City (12:49.47)
100 Hurdles: 1. Janelle Kirsch, Harbor Beach (17.21); 2. Andrea Vermeersch, USA (17.44); 3. Ashtyn Janiskee-Weiler (17.67)
300 Hurdles: 1. Andrea Vermeersch, USA (49.77); 2. Kelly McConnachie, Deckerville (50.95); 2. Janelle Kirsch, Harbor Beach (51.32)
400 Relay: 1. Bad Axe (Taylor Wolschlager, Stephanie Xiao, Maggie Cramer, Kelsey Capling) 55.39; 2. Ubly (Briana Lemke, Ellie Shaw, Becky Rutkowski, Kady Osentoski) 56.21; 3. USA (Brandi Ewald, Haley Ewald, McKenzie Treiber, Kaitlyn Woodruff) 58.52
800 Relay: 1. Bad Axe (Taylor Wolschlager, Kelsey Capling, Kara Flynn, Kaitlyn Grifka) 1:53.77; 2. Cass City (Katie Hacker, Morgan Potter, Megan Schoel, Haley Wynn) 1:59.86; 3. Caseville (Hayley Buckey, Krysten Dorfman, Katie Greene, Heather Nowak) 2:06.92
1,600 Relay: 1. Bad Axe (Taylor Wolschlager, Kara Flynn, Cassie Hanson, Crystal Schaible) 4:22.61; 2. USA (Amanda DeSimpelare, Erika Fritz, McKenzie Treiber, Andrea Vermeersch) 4:33.21; 3. Cass City (Ashtyn Janiskee-Weiler, Morgan Potter, Megan Schoel, Haley Wynn) 4:38.79
3,200 Relay: 1. Bad Axe (Hailey Richards, Kaitlyn Grifka, Cassandra Hanson, Crystal Schaible) 10:17.96; 2. Cass City (Alyssa Bennett, Ashley Potts, Jessa Prieskorn, Ashtyn Janiskee-Weiler) 10:35.17; 3. North Huron (Katie Alexander, Hanna Selaty, Stephanie Ahearn, Karlie Goretski) 11:18.88
Shot Put: 1. Kayla Deering, EPBP (37-10 1/2); 2. Tori Batzer, Bad Axe (35-3); 3. Crystal Cole, Harbor Beach (32-1 1/2)
Discus: Sami Eisengruber, USA (106-5); 2. Taylor Breault, Bad Axe (103-6); 3. Tori Batzer, Bad Axe (99-11)
Long Jump: Makenzie Tolin, Bad Axe (16-1 1/2); 2. Gala Shivley, EPBP (15-5 1/2); 3. Kara Flynn, Bad Axe (15-0 1/2)
High Jump: 1. Logan Rowell, Cass City (5-4); 2. Jennifer Susalla, Ubly (5-2); 3. Leandra Leppek, Ubly (4-10)
Pole Vault: 1. Janelle Kirsch, Harbor Beach (9-0); 2. Kelly McConnachie, Deckerville (8-6); 3. Kelsey Capling, Bad Axe (8-6)