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Regional Dynasty: Pioneers sweep up pair of D3 regional crowns WITH GALLERY

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Winning championships is not a norm, rather it's something that's usually fleeting, you know here today and gone tomorrow.

Yet, like with all things, there are deviations from the norm.

One such deviation just happens to be the Clare High School track teams.

Over the course of the past 25 years the Pioneer boys track team has won 22 Jack Pine Conference titles and it will likely win another this upcoming week at the JPC Championships at Sanford-Meridian.

On the other side of the equation is the girls team which has won 17 JPC titles in past quarter century and barring an Act of God will claim another this week alongside the boys team.

Thus, it's an established fact that the Pioneers are the crème de la crème in the JPC and have been for decades now. But over the course of the last couple years the Pioneers have really started to make a push at the state level the likes that hasn't been seen since the 1990s when Jude and Rob Johnson led Clare track and field to three state titles and a couple runner-up showings.

Just last year the Lady Pioneers won the Division 3 MITCA team state title and finished fourth at the MHSAA state finals. Conversely, the boys were fourth at the MITCA meet and 12th at the MHSAA meet.

All the aforementioned history speaks to a great program that just keeps getting greater.

On Friday night in front of the home faithful at the Brookwood Athletic Complex the Lady Pioneers won an unprecedented fourth-straight Division 3 regional title while the boys were right on their heels as they won a third-straight regional crown. With the victories both teams earn automatic berths into next weekend's home D3 MITCA state finale where Kyle McKown's girls will look to defend their title while Adam Burhans' boys are definitely in the conversation to claim the crown.

But before we jump too far ahead it's worth duly noting what took place Friday as the Lady Pioneers torched the 13-team field, finishing atop it with 157 points, some 57.5 better than runner-up McBain.

Not to be outdone the boys tallied 147.5 points which was miles ahead of runner-up Tawas which tallied 75.

Regional Results Here

"This is just a special group that has been remarkable from the start of the season through to today," said McKown. "Winning the regional title has been the goal they have had all year long and they have worked their butts off with that in mind. They also want to achieve it together. There's a sense of family and tradition here that you just don't find in too many places."

In talking to some of the athletes, well they spoke to the family atmosphere and to how coach McKown has been a huge inspiration.

"I'm so thankful for this and it's something I will never take for granted because it's great for the community and the town," said senior star Jasmine Harper, who won the 1,600 and 3,200 Friday. "We have such a great coach in coach K. He is so knowledgeable and caring about us athletes. Hopefully we can continue to have success in the next couple weeks."

When these comments were communicated to McKown it took him a good five seconds to respond while raising his hands towards his now teary eyes.

"It's a family and everything we do is trying to support every member to be the best they can be," said McKown, whose team won seven of the 17 events. "I am just proud to be able to lead such an amazing group of athletes."

For coach Burhans and his team the regional title was equally sweet, albeit with a couple less tears shed.

"We're so competitive and both sides care so much that, to me, it's a complete program effort," said Burhans, whose team won six events Friday. "It's not so much about the boys or the girls. Our goal is to take both programs as far as they will go so it's extremely special to see both teams do what they did tonight."

Senior Ben Haupt, who won the 3,200 with a brilliant final 100 meters, added, "Not a lot of schools in the state in any division have this kind of streak going so it's something we're proud of. A lot of teams have one or two studs but we have that and a lot of balance and depth and that makes us hard to beat."

Next Saturday the Pioneers host the D3 MITCA state meet and the plan is to win it and why not?

"We're really looking forward to it because it's at home and because we have a special team," said Zac Stickler who was first in the discus with a PR of 155-1 and second in the shot put with a throw of 52-3.5.

Last Updated: 5/19/2017 11:06:49 PM EST