May 1, 2016

Olivet High School has a rich athletic tradition, so OHS teams enjoying success on a local or state level is never too much of a surprise.

Take the last three school years for example. We’ve had state-ranked football teams, district championship volleyball squads, a state-qualifying girls’ cross country unit, league titles from our girls’ basketball program, a state champion bowler, a deep tourney run by our baseball program, and a girls’ track team that was among the best in Division 3 last year. There are others as well, but that’s a pretty good list for now.

This spring, however, has a produced a different level of success – one that extends across the board and includes every OHS varsity team that is currently in-season. All three girls’ teams (softball, soccer and track & field) are off to terrific starts, while the three boys’ programs (golf, baseball and track & field) are turning heads as well. That’s not bad for a small mid-Michigan school with an enrollment of just over 500 students.

Here is a closer look at what some of these programs have accomplished so far this spring:

Softball – Under first-year coach Jeff Taylor, the Eagles are off to a 12-4 start and appear to get stronger every time they take the field. There are only three seniors – pitcher Shawna Morton, third baseman Jordan Richmond and first baseman Kara Mott – but the trio has done a superb job setting the tone for a roster filled with talented sophomores and freshmen.

Coming into the season, everyone knew about the hard-hitting Richmond and what she brings to the table. And it’s safe to say that Mott’s consistency was a known commodity as well. But the emergence of Morton as the Olivet ace has been the biggest story. The hard-throwing righthander enters this week’s games with a 6-0 record, a 1.44 ERA, and 51 strikeouts in 34 innings.

Speaking of the Eagles’ youth, check out the rest of their normal starting lineup. Sophomore Adianna Rangel handles the catching duties, sophomore Jaclyn Groves plays second, sophomore Molly Wheeler is at shortstop, freshman Trinity Weeks plays left field, sophomore Brenna Madry roams in center field and sophomore Emma Moore is the right fielder. And let’s not forget freshman Gracie Spencer, who plays second when Groves is pitching.

There are other underclassmen who come off the bench as well. In other words, this is a team that could be very good for at least a few years.

Girls’ Soccer – The Eagles are in the midst of what could be the best season in school history. Rookie coach Mitch Brady and his squad are off to a 6-3 start, including a 5-2 mark in the Greater Lansing Activities Conference. Olivet had won only five games in its previous two seasons.

When one watches the Eagles play this spring, there are noticeable improvements in the areas of athleticism and competitiveness. A lot of the transformation has to do with the influx and development of young talent that has had a profound impact this year. Senior Loren Westlake and sophomores Kylie Falk and Kaylee Richardson are fantastic playmakers and goal scorers, and all three are benefitting from the improved play around them.

Track & Field – The Olivet boys’ and girls’ teams are in outstanding position to repeat as GLAC champions following dual meet victories over Perry two weeks ago. Regardless of whether Coach Brian Lincoln’s teams are in a dual or an invitational, they have the talent and depth to compete.

Individuals to keep an eye on as the GLAC, regional and state meets approach include Logan Kyre (sprints, hurdles), Noelle Rohde (long jump, sprints), Taylor Sinclair (sprints), David Hewer (pole vault), Chase Martin (sprints), Silver Dotts (sprints) and Isaac Waffle (distance).

Baseball – After a slow start, Olivet won seven of eight games during a recent stretch and now stands 10-7 overall under first-year coach Bill Whitely.

Many thought this would be a rebuilding year for the Eagles – and it still might be – but that hasn’t kept them from grinding out some tough victories. Juniors Delbert Redfield and Wyatt DeGroot are both hitting around .400 to lead Olivet offensively. Redfield also is the Eagles’ top pitcher and a phenomenal defensive center fielder.

Boys’ Golf – Midway through the season, Coach Eddie Collins and his Eagles find themselves atop the GLAC standings after winning two of the three jamborees so far.

The best part about this unit is that, from meet to meet, no one ever knows who is going to carry the load. Olivet’s top golfers are Chase Collins, Daniel Higgins, Drake Norton, Levi Burgett, Jake Andrews and Andrew Higgins. All six of them not only are capable of carding the low score on a given day, they probably will at some point during the season.