Woznick tops 800-meter record, Rams continue making strides

by RANDY GREGORY

Record-breakers Drew Woznick and Taylor Manett celebrate their accomplishments.

Drew Woznick set a new school record in the 800-meter race for the Rockford boys track team in a dual meet against Grand Haven on Thursday, May 3 at Rockford with a time of 1:54.68. The record had been held since 1998 with a time of 1:54.9 by Jason Hartmann. Not to put any pressure on Woznick, but Hartmann has since gone on to a storied career that included a fourth-place finish at this year’s Boston Marathon.

Woznick took an early lead in the race as he kept Buccaneer standout Schalk Vanniekerk at bay until the final 130 meters. Vanniekerk nosed ahead at that point, but Woznick stayed right on his heels as the two frantically raced for the finish line. With 20 meters to go, Woznick pulled even with Vanniekerk and out-leaned him at the wire to win by .13 seconds.

“It was one of the most exciting races I have ever seen,” said Rockford Coach Andy Martin. “You usually see finishes like that in a 100- or 200-meter race. Drew just refused to lose and everyone in the place was on their feet cheering both of them on. Earlier in the meet he had run a 1:57 800-meter split in the 3,200 relay and to come back with a race like that is unbelievable.”

As a team, Rockford easily outpaced both Jenison on Tuesday and Grand Haven on Thursday to close out the OK Red regular season at 6-1 and finish one spot behind East Kentwood. They finished the week by sending a limited squad to the Red Hawk Invitational on Saturday, May 5. Several other Ram athletes also had notable performances on the week.

Ben Braden swept the discus and the shot put in both dual meets. In the process, Braden set a new personal record of 162′ 7″ in the discus on Tuesday, May 1 at Jenison. That topped his old mark by better than six feet. Justin Wustman went 19′ 10.25″ in the long jump to better his previous best by a foot and a half. And Casey Aman ran a 9:45.12 3,200-meter at the Red Hawk Invitational to shatter his previous best mark as well.

The stage is now set for the OK Red conference track meet on Friday, May 11 at West Ottawa. Standing between the Rams and a share of the crown is a nationally ranked East Kentwood squad that hasn’t come out on the short end of anything in the last several years.

“This gives us another shot at East Kentwood,” said Martin. “They are a very talented team that has improved over the course of the year, but so have we. It is always a good thing to go out and see how you match up with the best.”

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