Okayama enjoys running long sprints

Published 8:43 am Thursday, May 12, 2016

Michael Okayama had never run a faster 200 meters in a meet than what he clocked April 27 at Brandywine’s Marvin L. Selge Sr. Athletic Complex.

The Brandywine High School senior sprinted the distance in 24.21 seconds to place third behind two strong Parchment runners.

“My favorite sprinting event is the 200,” Okayama said. “The 400 I’m OK at. It’s a little bit tougher, but I still enjoy it. I don’t have as much endurance during the 400.”

Wednesday also saw Okayama post a season-best 56.32 in the 400 and lead off a winning effort in the 1,600 relay. His best in the 400 — 56.16 — came in 2015.

“He’s developed as a 400 runner over the years,” Brandywine coach Terry Borr said of Okayama. “He’s gotten better and better. He looked pretty good in the 200 today.

“If you watch him run, he’s probably got some of the best form I’ve seen as a coach,” Borr said.

The Bobcats coach has used the versatlie athlete in many events over the years. In 2016, Okayama has also competed in the 400 relay, 800 relay and 1,200 relay (Grand Valley State University Challenge) and the long jump.

His best long jump this spring is 17-6,  just three inches shy of his career best set in 2015.

Okayama excels in track and soccer is his “go-to sport,” The two things he enjoys the most about them are competition and camaraderie.

“We don’t all enjoy running, but we just like running against each other,” Okayama said. “It’s about being with friends. It’s just fun all the way around.”

Okayama appreciates the teamwork it takes in soccer and enjoys the physicality.

A goal scorer on the pitch, Okayama also enjoyed having fun with his mates on and off the field. Some soccer fans will remember the time the Bobcats all decided to go blonde.

Okayama was a BCS Conference Blue honorable mention selection in soccer in the fall of 2015.

His favorite track memory is also team-related.

“When we won regionals my sophomore year (2014). That was a nice time because we just came back from a loss to Watervliet and came back and beat them at regional.”

As a fourth-year varsity contributor, Borr said Okayama brings leadership to the team.

“He’s been part of the program for four years and been part of our success,” Borr said. “And he’s a fun kid to be around.”

Okayama ran the lead-off leg the Brandywine in the 1,600 relay at the 2015 MHSAA Division 3 State Finals.

After graduation, Okayama plans to study business management at Western Michigan University. To fuel his competitive fire, he said he may get involved in intramural sports.

Brandywine’s next home meet is the MHSAA Regional May 20.