Cultivating a championship culture in Hart

June 9, 2023

Hart girls take the podium at the state finals.
– contributed photo

Cultivating a championship culture in Hart

Pirate News is a presentation of Hart Public Schools in partnership with Oceana County Press

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — The Hart Girls Track Team captured its second straight Division 3 state championship and third state title in six seasons Saturday, June 3, and the Pirate boys team took third place.

Sophomore Jessica Jazwinski earned an individual state championship in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 10:57.99 and added a runner-up finish in the 1,600 run (4:58.86) and a third-place finish in the 800 run (2:16.22). She also anchored the 3,200 relay team of Lexie Beth Nienhuis, Abigail Pretty, and Alyson Enns that finished fourth overall with a time of 9:35.92.

Sophomore Addi Hovey, an All-State basketball standout for Hart, captured a state championship in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 4 inches and added a third-place finish in the 100 dash with a time of 12.53 seconds.

Pirate athletes who qualified for the state finals and the coach.
– Contributed photo

She also helped anchor the 400 relay team with teammates Aspen Boutell, Savanna Owens and Addison Hain, who finished third in the event with a time of 50.78 seconds and the 800 relay team of Boutell, Laura Bitely and Hain that finished seventh overall with 1:49.32.

Enns added critical points in the 1,600 run (5:07.18) with a sixth-place finish and the 3,200 run (11:14.89) with a third-place finish, while the 1,600 relay team of Boutell, Owens, Bitely and Nienhuis capped off the scoring for the Pirates with a seventh-place finish in their event with a time of 4:14.27

The boys team was led by senior Kellen Kimes with a state championship in discus with a throw of 174 feet and 3 inches and second in shot put at 57′ ¼.”

Hart boys 4×800 relay team of Seth Ackley, Guillermo Ortega, Wyatt Dean and Clayton Ackley won the state title with a time of 8:04.54.

In addition to the girls state title, the Pirates boast six individual state champions: Addi Hovey, high jump; Jessica Jazwinski, 3200 meter; Seth Ackley, Guillermo Ortega, Wyatt Dean and Clayton Ackley, 4×800; and Kellen Kimes, discus.

The Hart Girls Track Team
Photo courtesy of Chrissy Klotz

The girls team is coached by Calvin Ackley, and the boys are coached by Ken Kimes. “Kimes really helped our program, because he is outstanding at many field events that we needed help with,” said Ackley. Kimes is Kellen’s father, and Ackley is Clayton Ackley’s father and Seth Ackley’s uncle. Coach Ackley focuses more on the distance events for both genders, and Coach Kimes oversees sprinters and most field events for both genders. “Coach Austin Enns, Lauren Butkevich, Mike Tubbs, and Abe Enns also coach Hart track and do an outstanding job,” said Ackley. 

“There was more pressure this year because the expectation was there, and there were better teams,” said Ackley. “Unfortunately, our boys should have, could have first or second, but we had about four things not go right, and that’s all it takes at a state meet.

“As much as I loved winning it with the girls, Ken’s son and my son were on the team, and we were hoping for the double. It’s only happened twice in D3 history.”

This season Clayton Ackley broke long-standing school records in the 1-mile and 2-mile races held by Gary Brimmer in 1983 and Dave Dumont in 1980. Wyatt Dean broke a 1993 record held by Joe Meza. “We’ve had our best boys distance team ever — they crushed the 4×800 record.” The relay team is so fast, the boys qualified for the upcoming Nike Nationals in Eugene, Oregon. “We’re flying out next Thursday for that.” 

Kellen Kimes is also competing at nationals, throwing not only the shot put and discus, but also the hammer, said Coach Kimes. He is participating in the Redemption Meet this Saturday, June 10, at Grand Valley State University. Kellen will compete in the throws team, which is part of the track team, at Liberty University in Virginia where he begins college next fall.

In the last two seasons, the Pirate track teams have broken 20 records out of 34 total events, said Coach Ackley. 

“It makes coaching a lot more fun to be a part of the success,” said Coach Kimes. “When the kids are vested in it and bought into the system, it just helps the ball to keep rolling. We have an excellent middle school program, and that feeder system coming in really helps out what we’re doing in high school, too.”

A big part of Hart’s success are the athletes’ parents, said Kimes. “I think one of the reasons right now that we’ve had success is the investment that the parents put into

The Hart Boys Track Team
Photo courtesy of Chrissy Klotz

their kids to get where they are.” All of the off-season work pays off. 

Addi Hovey is one of those athletes who puts in many hours in the off-season, particularly in basketball, said Coach Kimes. “It’s an extra from all the basketball that she does — she works her tail off. She goes to a whole bunch of tournaments and works very hard. And that has an impact on what she does in track.” Coach Kimes said it takes a lot of commitment on the parents’ part to drive the athletes to off-season tournaments, clinics and programs. 

“The team and the coaches all put in the time, and I think we all deserve credit for what we’ve accomplished in the last couple years,” said Kimes. “Our assistant coaches — we couldn’t do it without them, our middle school coaches, too.”

“There isn’t a magical workout, it’s just hard work, passion, camaraderie and most importantly team culture. The teammates are there for each other.”

Ackley, who has three daughters running at the college level in both cross country and track and who were standouts for the Pirates, said many of the Hart High School athletes conduct themselves with a maturity level that is college-like.

“All four of our relay girls teams were all-state — that is hard to do. Freshman Addison Hain stepped up.

“Three out of six years with state championships out of nearly 200 Division 3 schools is special and even bigger yet, is the cross country teams winning six titles in a row — girls and boys. In the last six years, Hart has won nine state championships.”

“It’s not just the coaches and the teammates, it’s also the families,” said junior Guillermo Ortega. “Other family members have come up to me and told me what a good job I’ve done, and it boosts me up.” Ortega said community members are reaching out to help fund the athletes who are competing at nationals. 

“It’s a lot of fun, and this season was especially fun running with my cousin Addi (Hovey),” said junior Laura Bitely. “We had a lot of fun running together and breaking the record.”

“I am really thankful to be a part of this program, because everyone on the team is very hardworking, and we all push each other,” said Hovey. It’s a lot of fun.” 

Hart’s other sports programs are also experiencing tremendous success in the last few years which is a stark comparison to a time period when the sports programs were struggling. “It has changed completely,” said Ackley. “I think when a few teams start rolling” it inspires the other teams. The successful programs are attracting talented athletes. “It’s a matter of momentum.”

“The community comes out to support us no matter what the weather is,” said junior JoseLuis Andaverde. “It’s good to know that you have people around who are willing to give 110 percent every day.” Andaverde said the coaches and teachers at Hart High School provide outstanding support. “People are always there to help you. The people here are just so supportive, and that’s what I love about Hart.”

Pirates who earned All-State honors include:

Imogene Brumbaugh: 10th high jump

Alyson Enns: sixth 1600 M

Lilly Hopkins: 11th pole vault

Addi Hovey: third 100 M

Jessica Jaswinski: second 1600 M and third 800 M 

Jasmyne Villanueva: 17th 300 M hurdles

Clayton Ackley: third 3200 M and ninth 1600 M

Seth Ackley: ninth 3200 M

Wyatt Dean: ninth 800 M

Kellen Kimes: second shot put

Aspen Boutell, Addison Hain, Addi Hovey and Savannah Owens: third 4×100 relay 

Laura Bitely, Aspen Boutell, Addison Hain, Addi Hovey: seventh 4×200 relay

Laura Bitely, Aspen Boutell, Lexi Beth Nienhuis, Savanna Owens: seventh 4×400

Alyson Enns, Jessica Jaswinski, Lexie Beth Nienhuis, Abigail Pretty: fourth 4×800

Hunter Chaffee, Revin Gale, Eman Hertzler, Easton VanderZwag: 12th 4×100, 19th 4×200

JoseLuis Andaverde, Wyatt Dean, Revin Gale, Guillermo Ortega: fifth 4×400

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