MACOMB TOWNSHIP — It’s been quite a year for athletics at Royal Oak Shrine. The Knights have won six Catholic League championships — their most ever in a single school year — but they’re not hard to track.

Shrine has won titles in pairs: both boys and girls soccer (fall and spring), boys and girls basketball (winter), and the latest, boys and girls track and field. The Knights finished atop the field in both track competitions Wednesday at Macomb Lutheran North.

For the girls, the latest title surprised absolutely no one. Shrine has won three in a row, and four of the last five, and the Lady Knights dominated the three Catholic League jamborees this spring.

But Shrine’s boys brought it up a notch to win their first title since 2007. The Knights were third-best in the regular-season jamboree meets, but many of the Shrine athletes had personal-bests when it counted most.

“Coming into the season, we always said the girls are good, but you guys can be good, too,” head coach Tracy Dawson said. “They bought into it. They were focused, they were dialed in all week, and from the bus ride here, you could sense that vibe that they were ready.”

Shrine girls won comfortably, leading the 11-school field with 126 points. Wixom St. Catherine (79) finished second, followed by Allen Park Cabrini (68), Ann Arbor Greenhills (65) and Madison Heights Bishop Foley (41).

“I had high expectations with the girls this year, and they didn’t disappoint, winning a regional championship and now the league championship,” Dawson said. “We only lost two seniors from last year’s team, so they did what they were expected to do.”

Ellie Kendell broke two Catholic League records at the C/D Division track championships Wednesday. The Royal Oak Shrine junior won the 1600 and 3200 meter runs.

On the boys’ side, Shrine totaled 107, ahead of regular-season winner Bishop Foley (88), Greenhills (79), defending champ Detroit Loyola (62) and Cabrini (49).

“We talked about this all season,” Dawson said. “In the jamborees we saw how close we were, but we were never at full strength. We knew if we had everyone in place, we could catch Bishop Foley.”

Shrine’s girls won the meet with star power. Winners included senior Katie Arce in high and low hurdles (17.91 and 52.29), junior Kennedy Kilgore in the 100 and 200 dashes (12.89 and 26.49), junior Ellie Kendell in the 1600 and 3200 (5:17.76 and 11:21.09) and senior Chloe Woodbeck in high jump (4’10”). The Lady Knights also won the 4x800, 4x200 and 4x400 relays.

Shrine had just two individual winners in the boys’ meet — senior Owen Groth in long jump (19’ 6 ¼”) and sophomore Jalen Ramirez in the high hurdles (16.69) — but the Knights also won the 4x200 and 4x400 relays, and scored in 12 of the 16 events. On several occasions, Shrine had more than one athlete place among the top six of their event.

Kendell provided the biggest highlights of the afternoon, breaking two Catholic League records in her distance event wins.

“I knew I could go around 5:20 for the mile,” she said. “I saw what the record was (5:28, dating back to 1980), and I wanted to break the record. I had (senior teammate) Carolyn Luddy and Coach (Dave) Arce yell out the splits on each lap. Our team did really well together, we worked together and supported each other.”

Kendell was also well under the Catholic League’s former 3200 record of 11:48, run in 2013. She ran both races largely by herself, winning the 1600 by 34 seconds and the 3200 1:40 ahead of the next-closest competitor.

The teams taking home the second-place trophies received some late heroics to get into the runner-up spot. For the girls, coach Jennifer Lemieux’s St. Catherine squad got a 1-2-6 finish in discus from junior Marissa Coley (90’ 6”), sophomore Sara Haupt (90’ 2”) and freshman Gabriela Smerage (83’ 2”).

Bishop Foley benefited from a 1-2 finish in shot put from senior Kendel Taylor (47’10”) and junior Tye Moore (42’ 0”). It was Taylor’s third victory of the day after taking the 400 (51.95) and 200 (22.94) dashes.

Greenhills junior Ian Dopp was the only other competitor to win multiple events, leading the 1600 (4:46.81) and the 800 (2:07.60).


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