Orange, Black & Gold: Elk Rapids' Max Ward, Kingsley's Chase Bott lead 2024 Boys Track & Field Dream Team (2024)

Jul. 6—TRAVERSE CITY — Orange and black. Elks and Stags. Track and field.

Max Ward and Chase Bott now have more in common than their school colors, the antlers of their school mascots and the spring sport in which they compete.

Ward, a junior from Elk Rapids, and Bott, a junior from Kingsley, are the Record-Eagle 2024 Boys Track and Field Athletes of the Year.

Ward takes home the track honor for an incredible season that saw him end with a state championship, and Bott snags the field award for a spectacular campaign that included conference and regional gold.

"This feels great. It's a big accomplishment for me," Ward said. "I'm very surprised, but I'm very thankful for this — and it feels great to be recognized for all the hard work and dedication that it took to get here."

"I wasn't even thinking about it," Bott said of possibly winning the R-E honor as a junior. "It's really awesome."

Ward called track and field "pure competition at its finest."

"It's just about seeing who's better," he said.

Ward was often better than his competitors, and he was a valuable Jack of All Trades and a master of the hurdles for Elk Rapids, competing in eight different events throughout the season but excelling the most in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdle races as well as the high jump.

"I've done track for a while, so I figured that I could try to do a little bit of everything," Ward said.

The junior Elk competed in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the 400- and 800-meter runs. He also competed as part of the Elks' 4x400-meter relay team and dipped his toes in the field waters in the high jump.

In those six events, Ward compiled 11 wins — four in the 200m, two in the 400m, three in the 4x400m relay, and two in the high jump. He also finished second in both the 100m and 800m.

The hurdles races were where Ward set himself apart.

In the 110m high hurdles, he tallied eight wins that included a Division 3 regional championship and a Lake Michigan Conference title. He took second at the MITCA D3 team state finals and then third at both the Record-Eagle John Lober Honor Roll Invitational and the D3 MHSAA state finals, setting his PR at 14.91 seconds.

Ward was perfect in the 300m low hurdles, bringing home the gold at all nine meets in which he competed in the event.

"The 300 is kind of a mental race," said Ward, who has also been a cross country runner for the Elks. "It's a long race, and I kind of look at it as a cross country race. There's enough time in that race for me to catch anyone I need to."

His wins included the regional finals, the LMC Championships, the MITCA team state finals, the Honor Roll and the MHSAA state finals, where he again set a PR by winning a state championship in 38.53 seconds.

"That was a good time," Ward said. "I got third in the 110s earlier in the day, and that was really motivating. I didn't want to let myself down after that."

Ward was motivated just enough, beating out Springport's Elijah Dyer by one one-hundredth of a second. He said that neither he nor Dyer were sure who won until they were informed five minutes after the race was over.

"I had no idea," Ward said. "I turned to him (Dyer) and was like, 'I don't even know, man.'"

At the MITCA D3 team state finals, Ward was a winner in the 300m hurdles, running a 39.22 to break a 16-year-old MITCA D3 state meet record — also by one one-hundredth of a second. The junior Elk took second in the 110m hurdles at 15.1.

"The training that I did in the offseason helped me a lot, being a multisport athlete and not specializing in any one thing," Ward said. "I also have to thank my father and my mother. They're super supportive and help me train. They've always been there for me, mentally and physically, to help me become as strong as I am."

He also qualified for the Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Oregon, where he finished his junior campaign with a fifth-place finish in the 400m hurdles of the Emerging Elite Division, running a PR time of 55.73.

"That was really, really motivating and humbling," Ward said. "The facilities there were amazing. It was a dream to be there. It was awesome."

Ward's success comes on the back of a sophom*ore season in which he claimed regional and conference titles in the 110m hurdles and a conference championship in the 300m hurdles before finishing in 11th in both races at the MHSAA state finals.

As a senior, Ward said he plans on competing in all 17 events at least once.

"You've got to have fun while you're doing this," he said. "I train to be an athlete. I don't train to be a hurdler or a sprinter or anything. I just try to be the best athlete I can be."

Ward plans on running collegiately, and he believes the versatility that he can showcase will make him stand out to college scouts and coaches.

"They can see that I can throw the shot or jump pretty well, and I'm not just a hurdler," he said. "I can be kind of a wild card."

As his senior year approaches, Ward said he is focused on just "staying in the present."

"I'm trying to stay in shape. I've been running every morning and trying to get that base layer of stamina going," he said. "I can't wait to play football and basketball, and I might do a few (cross country) races because my dad is still the coach."

Just like Ward, Bott made a huge improvement from his sophom*ore to his junior seasons.

"It was the offseason and working out while doing all the extra stuff I could to get better," Bott said. "Just lifting and playing other sports got me that much more in shape to be able to do what I did."

Bott, the multisport athlete who won a Division 6 football state championship with the Stags in November and played basketball in the winter, dabbled in the 110m hurdles a few times, even setting a PR and taking third place at the Northwest Conference Championships in 18.2 seconds.

But Bott's talents were best used throwing and jumping, qualifying for the Division 3 state championship finals in the shot put, discus and high jump.

He began throwing the shot put in middle school, during which time he went to a megastar meet and placed third. He then began throwing in the 100s in the discus as a freshman without ever having competed in the event before. That pretty much cemented his interest in track and field.

"I just loved doing it," he said, adding that he credits his father and his coaches for always going the extra mile with him to get in more and more work to improve his throwing game.

In his junior season, Bott never finished lower than third place in the shot put until the state finals, collecting five wins that included a conference championship as well as four silvers and four bronzes.

He set his PR at the NWC Championships with a toss of 49 feet, 10 inches. At the state finals, however, Bott threw 45-7.5 for 22nd place. Nothing to sneeze at, but not up to his expectations.

"Shot at states was not good," Bott said. "Shot and high jump were at the same time, so I was going between those while they were both going on. I didn't have my normal preparation and warmups for shot because I went straight from high jump to shot and had to do all of my throws really quick so I could get back to the high jump."

Bott said that is not an excuse.

"It just didn't go as planned," he said.

In the discus, just jump on and there will be a bevy of "1"s under that event for Bott.

He won the discus at all but one meet leading up to the state finals, earning a baker's dozen gold medals that included regional and conference titles as well as a victory and PR at the Honor Roll meet with a launch of 166 feet, 2 inches.

"When I threw that one, I didn't even feel like my form was that good," Bott said. "If I had the form down and had gotten through the ring a little better, that would have gone in the 170s."

Bott, who said he is hitting the 170s in practice after throwing 168 at the MITCA meet, has his eyes set on reaching the 180s in his senior season.

"I just need to keep working on that and keep it going throughout the summer and then indoor track meets during the winter," he said. "Every time you PR, it's a good feeling. That means you're getting better every time and that there is still more you can do. You're just waiting for that big one to come along. Hopefully that's coming."

He threw 161-6 at the state finals to finish in fifth place and earn All-State honors.

"No, I wasn't surprised. That's what I was expecting to do this year," Bott said. "I feel like I should have gotten first at every meet I was at for disc."

Bott also snagged a top-10 finish in the high jump at the state finals. After finishing runner-up in the event at the regional finals and NWC Championships, Bott set his season-best in the event by clearing 6 feet, 1 inch for ninth place. He also had three wins in the high jump for the season, giving him a total of 21 golds as a junior.

"To go out there and try and place for three events, that was really fun," Bott said. "The pressure wasn't that high for the shot and high jump, but I was really going for disc. That's what I really wanted."

Bott qualified in the discus for the New Balance Nationals in Philadelphia and said it was a great experience.

"It was a great environment and a lot of fun," he said. "I definitely throw better when there are better throwers around because the competition is higher and I know I have to do more to try and win. You're always trying to place, and you've got to go for it when they're throwing in the 170s."


Max Ward — Elk Rapids, Jr. (Track Athlete of the Year)

Chase Bott — Kingsley, Jr. (Field Athlete of the Year)


Wallace Tupper II — Traverse City West

Willem DeGood — Traverse City West

Matthew Gordon — Traverse City Central

Jace Rowell — Traverse City Central

Ben Habers — Traverse City West

Asher Paul — Traverse City Central

Caleb Keller — Traverse City Central

Kyler Brunan — Traverse City West

Roman Leask — Traverse City West

Drew Esper — Traverse City West

Teontre Morgan — Traverse City Central


Sam Mitas — Petoskey

Korbin Sulitis — Petoskey

Porter Westdorp — Cadillac

Johnny Lipchik — Petoskey

Charlie Howell — Cadillac

Petoskey 4x100-meter relay team — CJ Hibbler, Mitch Eberhart, Seth Marek, Sam Mitas

Petoskey 4x200-meter relay team — CJ Hibbler, Logan Beer, Mitch Eberhart, Sam Mitas

Jack Lindwall — Petoskey

Nickolas Savoie — Gaylord

Evan Massey — Petoskey


TC St. Francis 4x800-meter relay team — Lewis Walter, Robby Myler, Joseph Carlson, Tucker Krumm

Jacob Hart — McBain

Drew Moore — Grayling

Cam Sellers — Traverse City St. Francis

Josh Slocum — Traverse City St. Francis

Gavin Guggemos — Kalkaska

Hunter Eaton — Charlevoix (Freshman of the Year)

Ethan Kucharek — Grayling

Carter Helsel — Manton

Darin Kunkel — Lake City

Caleb Miller — McBain

Tucker Krumm — Traverse City St. Francis

Eli Wilt — McBain

Nate Dix — Grand Traverse Academy

Jacob Hart — McBain

Zander Johnigan — Manton

Caius Johns — Manistee

Benjamin Rodenbaugh — McBain

Weston Kinney — Grand Traverse Academy

Damien McEntaffer — Manistee

Braxton Zenner — Kingsley


Adam Townsend — Frankfort

Blake Fox — Johannesburg-Lewiston

Russell Vandemus — Petoskey St. Michael

Colebrook Sutherland — Glen Lake

Cody Bradley — Petoskey St. Michael

William Webb — East Jordan

Wyatt Putney — Mesick

Benji Allen — Glen Lake

Jayce Trupp — Central Lake-Ellsworth

Dylan Cundiff — Glen Lake

Colebrook Sutherland — Glen Lake

Matthew Bentley — Buckley

Kyle Redman — Mesick

Abraham Feeney — Glen Lake

Agustin Creamer — Leland

Logan Shooks — East Jordan

Ethan Lambert — Bellaire

Tyler Bixby — Glen Lake

East Jordan 4x100-meter relay team — Daniel Ziebarth, Isaac Black, Logan Shooks, William Webb

Glen Lake 4x200-meter relay team — Boden Fisher, Benji Allen, Tyler Bixby, Dylan Cundiff

Glen Lake 4x400-meter relay team — Boden Fisher, Colebrook Sutherland, Dylan Cundiff, Breckin Nerg

Glen Lake — 4x800-meter relay team — Dylan Cundiff, Abraham Feeney, Tyler Bixby, Colebrook Sutherland

Warren Aylsworth III — Glen Lake

Bryce Plesha — Frankfort

Emmerson Farmer — Frankfort

Phillip Putney — Onekama

Jeremiah Witt — Johannesburg-Lewiston

Adam Ferguson — Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs 4x400-meter relay team — Everett Baetens, Anthony Atkinson, Henry Kruzel, Logan Kihnke

Harbor Springs 4x800-meter relay team — Logan Kihnke, Adam Ferguson, Trevor Clarke, Teddy Krieger

Jack Wilson — Inland Lakes

Sam Schoonmaker — Inland Lakes


Lukas Reimers — Traverse City Central

Liam Wierzba — Traverse City West

Sam King — Traverse City West

Zack Truszkowski — Traverse City Central

Parker Kirschner — Traverse City West

Aaryn Stallworth — Traverse City West

Sam Schutte — Traverse City West

Jake Lober — Traverse City Central

Elk Rapids 4x400-meter relay team — Zeke Keaton, Max Ward, Seth Brown, Briggs Leahy

TC St. Francis 4x400-meter relay team — Lewis Walter, Robby Myler, Tucker Krumm, Riley Pattinson

TC Central 4x100-meter relay team — Elijah Trombley, Seamus Dye, Carter Gle, Scott Goodwin

TC West 4x200-meter relay team — Aaryn Stallworth, Ben Habers, Sam Schutte, Aiden Orth

TC Central 4x800-meter relay team — Shiloh Gersenson, Lukas Reimers, Luke Byland, Caleb Keller

TC West 4x800-meter relay team — Willem DeGood, Joseph Sturtevant, Liam Wierzba, Sam King

Cirio Espositos — Gaylord

Reed King — Cadillac

Dominick Mikel — Gaylord

Alex Gebhard — Cadillac

Nolan Nixon — Cadillac

Zahar Rush — Gaylord

Luke Ingalls — Petoskey

Kaiden Boyce — Petoskey

Cadillac 4x100-meter relay team — Logan Tuck, Porter Westdorp, Gabe Cochrane, Connor Vermeulen

Petoskey 4x800-meter relay team — Reeve Oberman, Dylan Odenbach, Brady Odenbach, Zahar Rush

Brody Shaw — Petoskey

Logan Wadkins — Charlevoix

Cooper Moore — Elk Rapids

Leonardo Bertoncello — Grayling

Elijah Westcott — Mancelona

Dylan Pellerito — Boyne City

Lakota Barber — Boyne City

Benjen Sheaffer — Charlevoix

Kayden Dueweke-Gonzalez — Kalkaska

Deval Hale — Grayling

Seth Brown — Elk Rapids

Tristan Demlow — Grayling

Kale Black — Grayling

Adam Williams — Kalkaska

Qwynn Darnell — Elk Rapids

Isaac Dionne — Boyne City

Christian Kerfoot — Elk Rapids

Ryder Hopkins — Charlevoix

David Dhaseleer — Charlevoix

Matthew Solomon — Charlevoix

Peyton Scott — Charlevoix

Gabe Buyze-Prieto — Kalkaska

Kaleb Hall — Grayling

Kody Bratschi — Elk Rapids

Brenen Salani — Manton

Tommy Donahue — Traverse City St. Francis

Branden Stock — Kingsley

Lewis Walter — Traverse City St. Francis

Robby Myler — Traverse City St. Francis

Joseph Carlson — Traverse City St. Francis

Owen Read — Traverse City St. Francis

Jackson Schaub — Benzie Central

Lake City 4x100-meter relay team — Tyler Brown, Jeremiah King, Sean Fox, Darin Kunkel

TC St. Francis 4x200-meter relay team — Eddie Walter, Tommy Donahue, Tucker Krumm, Cam Sellers

Benzie Central 4x800-meter relay team — Ethin Chandler, Landon Harris, Lucan Louwsma, Jackson Schaub

Kameron Nethaway — McBain

Sean Fox — Lake City

Robbie Root — Lake City

Andrew Phillips — Manton

Owen Milles — Frankfort

Boden Fisher — Glen Lake

Landon Hall — Mesick

Isaac Black — East Jordan

Patrick Puroll — Central Lake-Ellsworth

Austin Sneed — East Jordan

Coen Burks — East Jordan

Glen Lake 4x100-meter relay team — Boden Fisher, Noah Scott, Porter Martin, Tyler Bixby

Frankfort 4x100-meter relay team — Adam Townsend, Owen Mills, Ty Beeman, Emmerson Farmer

East Jordan 4x200-meter relay team — Daniel Ziebarth, Isaac Black, William Webb, Freddie Thompson

Frankfort 4x200-meter relay team — Colton Bates, Owen Mills, Ty Beeman, Emmerson Farmer

Lake Leelanau St. Mary 4x800-meter relay team — Oliver Mitchell, Derek Graham, Garrett Grant, Garrick Collins

Nolan Clouse — Frankfort

Wesley Pennington — East Jordan

Anthony Atkinson — Harbor Springs

Atticus Cadarette — Petoskey St. Michael

Logan Kihnke — Harbor Springs

Malaki Gascho — Johannesburg-Lewiston

Charlie Ranney — Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs 4x100-meter relay team — Luke Smar, Charlie Ranney, Anthony Atkinson, Henry Kruzel

Nathan Hummel — Johannesburg-Lewiston

Rylan Matelski — Gaylord St. Mary

Orange, Black & Gold: Elk Rapids' Max Ward, Kingsley's Chase Bott lead 2024 Boys Track & Field Dream Team (2024)
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