Track and Field Boys clinch LVC championship title


The Milford Boys Track and Field team celebrates their victory, winning both the LVC Championship Meet Title as well as the LVC Regular Season Title (Photos courtesy of Brian Salyers).

Ryan O’Rourke, Staff Writer

After a long day in the blistering heat of the sun, the Milford boys Track and Field team walked off Waterford Mott’s track as the champions of the Lakes Valley Conference, having earned both the LVC Regular Season Title and the LVC Championship Meet Title. Despite being projected as underdogs going into the season, the boys pulled together to become a powerhouse team in a wide range of events. Early in the season, they earned narrow victories against fierce competitors Walled Lake Central, Walled Lake Northern, and Lakeland. By the time the LVC Championship Meet rolled around, the team had gained confidence and strength, and were able to again best all teams in the conference, making them champions.

Since entering the Lakes Valley Conference back in 2017, the Milford boy’s Track and Field Team has fiercely competed against teams like Lakeland, Walled Lake Northern and (perhaps most prominently) Walled Lake Central. “There were three excellent teams capable of taking the title,” said Head Coach John Fundukian. “Walled Lake Central and Walled Lake Northern definitely had our respect as contenders. I was confident in our balanced line-up and our athletes’ mental tenacity.” Milford’s first meet of the year was against Walled Lake Central, who hadn’t lost a dual meet in years. Milford was able to walk away with the victory, with a final score of 73 (Milford) to 64 (WLC). This set the precedent for meets to come. About 2 weeks later, Milford was able to again win a tight battle against Walled Lake Northern, with a final score of 71 (Milford) to 66 (WLN). Running against such competitive teams only made Milford stronger. When asked about the benefits of running in such a competitive conference, Fundukian said, “Iron sharpens iron. Athletes challenging each other brings out their best, and forces them to rise to another level.” It was because of these challenges that Milford was able to remain undefeated for the rest of the season, winning the Regular Season Title after the final dual meet against South Lyon East and Walled Lake Western, and setting them up for the chance to win the LVC Championship Meet title that coming weekend.

The last time the boys won an LVC Championship Meet Title was 2019. At that time, the current seniors of the team were only freshmen. It had been three long years of work and dedication before they made it happen again. “It felt so good to end my track career on top,” said senior leader, Ian Gibson. “I wasn’t a big part of the conference championship my freshman year, but it feels awesome to help lead the team to our Conference championships this year.” Gibson was able to qualify for the finals in the 100m dash, and finished in the top 8 in the finals, snagging a point for Milford. “It was definitely a great way to end the season for me.”

Another key contributor to the Conference victory was sophomore Brayden Kennedy. Kennedy had an extremely successful season, posting some of the fastest times in Milford’s history in each of his events. At the Conference meet, he ran in four events, the maximum number of events a single athlete is allowed to run. “The biggest challenge with running four events at the conference meet was the heat and having three of those events be pretty much back-to-back,” said Kennedy. “Duke made it easier by supplying Gatorades and water to the team, and by giving me advice on how to prepare during the short time between each event.” Kennedy was able to place in all 4 of his events, as well as set a new conference record in the 300m Hurdles, with a time of 15.24 seconds. Several other athletes had great success at the conference meet as well. One such athlete was Ryan Carrananto, who had the unique experience of competing at a championship level as a Freshman. “Running at the Conference Meet was an amazing experience!” said Carrananto. “It was a little stressful coming into it knowing how important this was for Milford. However, I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to compete at that level with my awesome teammates.” Both Kennedy and Carrananto were among the 12 individuals to earn All-Conference honors that day (placing top 3 in an event). These athletes included Reshaun Crawford (4×400 Relay), Brandon Gibson (4×100 Relay), Cody Miller (4×100 Relay and 4×200 Relay), Ryan O’Rourke (3200), Josh Parker (4×100 Relay and 4×200 Relay), London Pavlak (High Jump), Garrison Stehr (Shot Put and Discus), Billy Sternberg (4×100 Relay and 4×200 Relay), Danny Sternberg (4×400 Relay) and Aiden Verhey (4×200 Relay and 4×400 Relay). Additionally, Milford was able to score in 16 of 17 events (placing top 8 in an event).

The Milford boys were able to share in these victories with the Milford girls as well, as both sides rose to become champions of the Conference. Coach Fundukian reflected on this unique experience, “One of the highlights for me as a coach was the boys and girls together being able to celebrate our championships that were earned every day. It was a culmination of so many awesome moments throughout the season.” Junior London Pavlak, a veteran in the High Jump and yet another recipient of All-Conference honors, reflected on the successes of the season as well, “This year has been amazing,” Pavlak said. “As a team we beat Walled Lake Central, breaking their win streak, and went undefeated on the season, bringing home the Conference Tournament Title.” The hard work and dedication of athletes like Pavlak truly paid off, as Milford had one of their most successful seasons of Track and Field in recent years. The legacy left behind by the success of this team will set the bar for seasons to come. “What makes a championship team is outstanding leadership, complete dedication by athletes and coaches and caring for your teammates as a family,” said Coach Fundukian. “If you consistently have those qualities, no matter the score; you’ve already won. This team was exemplary and will not be forgotten.”