SUPER WOMAN

Michell wins four events, breaks three meet records at state final

COMSTOCK PARK — She did it.

Sami Michell won the four individual championships that she so dearly wanted in Saturday’s Division 3 track and field state meet at Comstock Park.

ANOTHER FIRST: Reed City's Sami Michell clears a hurdle en route to the 100 meter hurdle Division 3 girls track and field title Saturday at Comstock Park. (Pioneer photo/John Raffel)

But she did more than just take first place in the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles, the long jump and the 200-meter dash.

The Reed City junior also became a three-time state champ in the 100 meter hurdles, and a two-time state titlist in the long jump and 300 meter hurdles.

She set Division 3 records in both hurdles and the long jump and also the all-divisions record in the 300 hurdles.

But more impressively, by winning her last event of the day, the 200-meter dash, for the first time in her three-year career, Michell became a four-time state champion in individual events.

“I was so excited I could probably cry,” Michell smiled after winning the 200.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association posted on its website after the meet that Michell became only the second person to take four individual event titles at the Lower Peninsula MHSAA girls meet. The only other time it was done was in 1979 in the Class D finals when Maria Shoup of Mason County Eastern won both hurdles, the 800-meter run and the long jump.

“We didn’t know that,” said Brent Michell, a Reed City coach and Sami’s father when notified of Michell’s unique four-event championship status. “We knew she broke three records (Saturday).”

For Michell, who had narrowly lost the 200 a year ago in her four-win bid, her record-setting performances in the hurdles seemed to get her geared up to do what was necessary to take the 200.

Her first event was the 100-meter hurdles. Her meet record time of 13.84 beat her own record from a year ago of 14.07. Michell finished way ahead of Kylie Hicks of Boyne City in 14.98.

“I didn’t feel like I was running my best,” Michell said. “I hit a hurdle and lost stride, but I ran a pretty good time and I was happy with it. I would have liked to have run a faster time.”

Asked if that was her best event since she’s won it three straight seasons, Michell replied, “I don’t know. My freshman year I took second in the 300 hurdles. (She and the winner) both broke the state record in that. I didn’t break the state record in the 100 hurdles until last year. It’s hard to tell.”

Michell worked in the long jump between her running events and wound up with an effort of 18 feet, 6 1/2 inches which set a new meet record. The old one was 18-1 set in 2007. Second place went to Shelby Niedzwiecki of Freeland in 16-6.75.

“It’s not my best jump, but I was happy,” Michell said.

The 300 hurdles would feature an all-divisions record by Michell of 42.23, beating a 1984 mark of 42.4 and her own divisional meet record of 43.83 a year ago. She was way ahead of Emily Wee of Frankenmuth in 45.01.

“I felt great, “Michell said. “With Emily on the outside of me….”

Two events later came the showdown in the 200 where Michell had to face 100-meter champ Kimberly Balls of Bridgeport. Michell’s winning time was 25.28 compared to 25.56 for Balls.

“Her toughest event is the 200,” Brent Michell said. “It’s only one race away from the 300 hurdles and it’s an event in which she has to work hard to be successful. She ran an all-state record in the 300 hurdles and that tells you she didn’t slack off at all. Then she came back with her second fastest time of the year in the 200. She was happy with it and we were proud of her.”

Michell also has become a crowd favorite at the state finals as spectators have witnessed her domination in the hurdles.

“It was fun as a dad sitting in the crowd and watching other people respond to how well she ran,” Brent Michell said. “We obviously feel that way as her coaches and parents but it’s fun to see other people respond that way.”

Winning four individual events at a state meet isn’t easy as evident by the fact Michell is only the second girl athlete in Michigan to have done it.

“The events don’t always work well to run in,” Brent Michell said. “They’re just too close together some times. That’s what Sam runs into every year at the state finals. It’s so hard to come back from that 300 hurdles and have the energy to run a good time in the 200 dash.”

“I think I’m just stronger this year,” Michell said. “I was really tired with the 200. Afterwards, I was really dead.”

To win the 200-meter dash this season, Michell developed a different strategy.

“Having just broke the all-state record in the 300, she was pretty excited,” Brent Michell said. “I could tell she had a lot of of adrenaline going and I knew she could handle a lot more than she normally could because of the additional adrenaline. I told her the original plan was to not try to run away from anyone early and when you know you’re at the point of the race where you can give it your all until the end, then turn it on.

“She got a good start and ran even with everybody. When she comes out of the curve to the straightaway, she felt she could turn it on at that point. I was a little nervous because I saw her take off and I was afraid the other girls would respond. But she sent a message that she would not be caught (Saturday).”

Michell said she was confident of victory in the 200 at the curve.

“I knew I had enough in me,” she said. “The only thing I was scared about was that I would have nothing in me. At the curve, I knew it was close. But I felt I was going to win.”

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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