Team of the Week: Ithaca track and field teams finish off unbeaten dual meet seasons and win conference championships

ITHACA, Mich. (WLNS) – There has been plenty to cheer about in Ithaca in the last week, as both the boys and girls track teams finished off perfect 16-0 dual meet seasons and then won the TVC Blue Championship meet on Wednesday.

The Yellowjacket boys and girls beat Midland Bullock Creek, Standish-Sterling and Hemlock in their final dual meets of the season last week Wednesday.

The teams then followed up their dual meet success with a dominant effort at the TVC Blue Conference Championship meet on Wednesday.

The Ithaca boys won the conference championship meet with 147 points, 43 points ahead of second-place finisher Standish-Sterling.

The Ithaca girls won the championship meet with 159 points, 51 more than the team in second place, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran.

The dual meet success and conference championships are great accomplishments, but the Yellowjackets have bigger goals in mind with regionals around the corner.

“Obviously the stuff we’ve done is pretty cool this year but I mean if we don’t compete here at the regionals next week I mean, all the dual meet season doesn’t really mean much to us, you know?” said boys head coach Josh Macha. “Our goal is to get kids out of regionals and we’ve got a very competitive region next week. So our kids have got to be ready to go for that regional.”

Ithaca is certainly reaching its peak at the right time, as 13 athletes on the boys team set personal records at the TVC Blue Championship meet.

“We’re always wanting to better ourselves,” said senior hurdler Owen Mikulka, who set a personal record with a time of 16.02 in the 110 meter hurdles on Wednesday. “We always want to beat the team we’re going against. So like those PRs every week, we just want to be better than ourselves, better than we were last week.”

“The PRs have been really cool because our kids have been working really hard,” said Macha. “So early on in the year, especially here in Michigan, I mean the weather’s crappy so they kind of get the dog days of the early season where you go outside and it’s 40 degrees. It might be raining, snowing, sleeting, hailing, so your times aren’t great, but we preach to the kids to just keep putting in the work and the results will show. Our kids, they’ve basically done everything we’ve asked and now we’re starting to get a little bit of those results.”

The regular season success has also given both teams an increased level of confidence heading into the postseason.

“It definitely helps a lot with the confidence because everyone now knows like throughout the season that they’ve been putting in the work and that they can do it,” said senior thrower and relay runner Karlee Whitmore. “So that’s really helped build up their confidence for when we will be at regionals and competing there.”

Ithaca girls track and field coach Daryl Dawe said this year’s senior class has really led the way for his team, and he’s known this group was capable of special things since they were young.

“I’ve coached a lot of them as real little ones all the way up and stuff, and in other sports [too],” he said. “This group has always been internally driven and they’re just insanely focused.”

“A lot of times you’ll see all these teams like with a football playing around and stuff like that and you don’t see Ithaca kids doing that,” Dawe added. “They’re focused on what we’re doing and we take this seriously, but we have fun doing it.”

“Everyone is there for everyone, and everyone is putting in the work and the time that they need,” Whitmore said of the program’s culture this spring. “I know that there have been a lot of people that are coming up on weekends and putting in hours.”

The Yellowjacket programs are also both ranked among the best in the state. In the latest MITCA power rankings, the Ithaca boys are the No. 2 team in the state in Div. 3, and the Ithaca girls are ranked at No. 5.

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