Highsmith wins state long jump title with record leapPublished 5:45pm Sunday, June 2, 2013
GRAND RAPIDS — Dontel Highsmith will go down in the annals of Dowagiac history as one of the greatest athletes to ever wear a Chieftain uniform.
Highsmith added to his legend Saturday afternoon at Forest Hills Eastern at the Division 2 state track and field finals.
Highsmith, who already owns the school record for most points scored in a career in basketball, added another record in his final high school event.
He captured the Division 2 state championship in the long jump with a new record distance of 23-5.25. While that mark is good enough for the state record, it was still a few inches shy of the Dowagiac school record held by former state long jump champion Brent Lesniak. Lesniak went 23-7 to establish that standard for the Chieftains.
According to coach Mike Stanger, Highsmith was third going into the final round of jumps and he didn’t let the fact that he did not qualify for the 100-meter final affect his performance in the long jump.
“We was getting better all year and really improved the last four meets of the season,” Stanger said. “He was seeded fifth going in, but we knew he was getting better and better. You know Dontel, he likes to do it in the clutch. I think he thrives on those situations.”
Because of the way the meet is run, Highsmith could have waited for other jumpers to return from competing in other events before making his final attempts. But Stanger said he was ready to go and didn’t wait like some other jumpers decided to do.
“He said he was ready and so he stuck to his plan and took his jumps,” Stanger said.
The Chieftains also had a great day on the girls side of the meet.
Dowagiac’s Crieona Rodgers finished second in the high jump, missing the state championship by an inch. She finished with a height of 5-4.
Chieftain freshman Nijah Russell placed fifth in the 100 meters with a time of 12.57 and then helped the 400-meter relay team finish seventh with a new school record of 50.33.
The other members of that team were Neisha Douglas, Angel Parker and Rodgers.
“We really achieved beyond our expectations heading into the meet, but we have talked all year about the opportunity and talent that our girls had,” Dowagiac coach Ken Jordan said. “We are proud of all our girls and very pleased that four of them earned All-State honors.
“Nijah seeemd too tired a little late in the season, but bounced back big time today. None of our great girl sprinters accomplished what she did in her first state meet.”
Jordan noted that Rodgers may have run out of steam before her final high jump attempts.
“Crieona led the high jump before having to leave the event for the relay,” he said. “We would have loved for her to attempt 5-5 before running the relay. She was very focused and showed her natural talent today with a great performance.
“I can’t say enough about our young relay team. Their hand offs were all veary good today on the biggest stage.”
Division 2 Track &Field
at Forest Hills Eastern
(Top five and local teams)
1. Chelsea 64, 2. Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills 56, 3. Williamston 35, 4. Zeeland West 29, 5. Detroit East English 28, 24. Dowagiac 10
Individual(Winners and local placers)
LONG JUMP: 1. Dontel Highsmith (Dowagiac) 23-5.25 (New L.P. Division 2 Final Meet record)
(Top five and local team)
1. Dearborn Divine Child 81, 2. Grands Rapids Forest Hills Eastern 53, 3. DeWitt 32, 4. Grand Rapids Christian 30, 5. Zeeland West 23, 13. Dowagiac 14, 22. Niles 9
(Winners and local placers)
SHOT PUT: 1. Brittany Casey (Zeeland East) 41-9.75; 26. Hazel Kennedy (Dowagiac) 32-8.25
HIGH JUMP: 1. Ade Ayoola (Grand Rapids Christian) 5-5, 2. Crieona Rodgers (Dowagiac) 5-4
LONG JUMP: 1. Janina Pollatz (Grand Rapids Christian) 18-7, 23. Ashley Love (Niles) 15-5
100-METERS: 1. Josie Yesmunt (DeWitt) 12.18, 5. Nijah Russell (Dowagiac) 12.57
400 RELAY: 1. Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern 48.40 (New L.P. Division 2 Final Meet record), 5. Niles 50.22, 7. Dowagiac 50.33
800 RELAY: 1. Dearborn Divine Child 1:41.35, T3. Niles 1:45.14