One ‘final run’ for Ladywood athletes as school closes its doors

The Ladywood Blazers track team made one final run around the track at the conclusion of the C-D girls track championship. Ladywood is closing its doors this month.

Athletes and spectators were in the process of departing from Macomb Lutheran North’s campus, where the Catholic League staged the C-D boys and girls track and field championship.

On a marvelously sunny midweek afternoon, for some five hours, nearly 200 teens engaged in a spirited season-ending competition.

In the shade of the setting sun, a handful of onlookers watched a band of 13 girls jog ever so slowly, reverently, around the 400-meter oval. They stopped just short of the finish line, joined hands in a single line, sang “Hail to Our Alma Mater” and – in unison – hopped over the finish line.

This was a solemn moment. It was one last lap for the Ladywood Blazers, the culmination of the team’s motto, “Our Final Run.”

In the coming days, it’s expected the Blazers’ soccer and softball teams will make one final kick and take one final hit and pitch in the state tournaments.

The seniors received their diplomas last week in the school’s final commencement. School will end June 8 for the other students.

The doors of Ladywood High School, opened for the first time in 1950, will shut for the final time, for good.

Linda Rooney finds the closing, announced in December, “upsetting. A lot of great women have graduated from Ladywood.”

She added: “I’ve watched my daughters grow up.” Her daughter, Katie, an outstanding volleyball player, was in the class of 2010. She continued playing at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and is now working as an IBM analyst in New York City.

Another daughter, Megan, a junior, anticipated joining her sister as a Ladywood alum. “She thought she would be with her friends,” Linda said. Megan will have eight friends from Ladywood who are transferring with her to Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard for their senior year.

Athletic director Emily Frikken called the Blazers’ last year of sports competition a “pretty positive one.” Ladywood won the field hockey and lacrosse championships to increase its overall total to 51 CHSL titles in 11 sports.

Eight athletes will move up to the collegiate level this fall. Among them is Abbey Reppen, class valedictorian with a perfect ACT score, who is headed to Johns Hopkins to play basketball.

Ladywood was the best in the state nine times: in basketball in 1979-82-84-2005-07; in cross country in 1980; in softball in 2012; and in volleyball in 1988-89. The Blazers were second-best state finalists another nine times.

As for the disposition of the showcases of trophies, banners and awards Ladywood amassed over nearly seven decades, Frikken said a committee is deciding what to do.

Track coach Dawn Conn, a 1990 Ladywood alum who was director of institutional advancement, is planning a fall meeting with alumni who are interested in “helping people remember Ladywood for a long time. Ladywood lives on.”

Oh, about the track meet: Ladywood wound up third with 56 points. Junior Jenna Triest won the shot put. All total, 11 Blazers combined to cop 15 medals.

Royal Oak Shrine romped to the girls title for the second year in a row with 130 points. Wixom St. Catherine of Siena trailed with 73 points.

On the boys side, Detroit Loyola won its fourth consecutive championship with 129 points, a slim 10 points better than runner-up Madison Heights Bishop Foley.

Earlier, Dearborn Divine Child won both the girls and boys A-B championships, the girls for the fourth year in a row.

Austin Catholic athletes ran with heavy hearts. Inscribed on the front of their uniform was “No one walks alone” and on the back, “We have your back Coach Miller.” Athletic director Mike Miller is battling pancreatic cancer. Keep him, his family, and the Austin community in your prayers.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].