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Record-setting blitz earns Hartland’s Michelle Moraitis track & field Athlete of the Year

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M Moraitis pictured on her home track

 

HARTLAND — With the clock winding down a four-year career, there was no trace of Michelle Moraitis’ name on the Hartland track and field record board.

She ranked high on the Eagles’ all-time list in several events, but the board in the Hartland gym is reserved for school records; close doesn’t count.

When Moraitis returns to Hartland’s gym — perhaps to watch former basketball teammates next winter — she will see her name on the board three times.

In her final three weeks in blue and gold, Moraitis set a Livingston County record in the 400-meter dash and anchored the 800 and 1,600 relay teams to school-record performances.

 

Moraitis’ strong finish earned her the county girls’ track and field Athlete of the Year, as selected by the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

“I definitely wanted to get my name up there,” Moraitis said. “It was kind of my last chance, so every meet was exciting. Each meet was something new and something better.”

The Eagles could put Moraitis just about anywhere in the lineup and she would score points. Her remarkable range produced highly competitive times from the 100-meter dash all the way to 5,000-meter cross country.

She had Hartland’s best times this season in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 while running on the three sprint relay teams.

“I knew she was capable and her work ethic was there,” Hartland coach Matt Gutteridge said. “We were pulling her in a lot of different ways to help us win some dual meets.”

Moraitis found her sweet spot in the 400, an event which demands the right blend of speed and endurance.

At the Division 1 state meet, Moraitis broke the Livingston County record with a time of 57.64 seconds. She broke the county mark of 57.83 set by Hartland’s Amber Shelters in the 2005 state meet. Moraitis, running in the second-fastest heat, secured an all-state berth by placing eighth.

“It was really surprising,” Moraitis said. “I crossed the finish line and was like, ‘What?’ I looked at the time and I was really just shocked, because I beat my previous best time by a second; that’s a lot for a sprint.

“In the beginning of the season, it was something I was thinking I’d like to get. Near the end of the season, ‘I’m pretty far away; I don’t think I’ll get there.’ I kept working, kept working and I got there.”

Moraitis would secure one more school record that day in her final high school race. After sophomores Lauren Smith and Samantha Fritz and freshman Lindsey Strutz put the Eagles in position to take down the record, Moraitis brought home a 4:03.88 finish.

That broke the mark of 4:04.72 set in 2010 by Erin Suttman, Heather Pietrzak, Michelle Jones and Avery Evenson. A year earlier, Smith, Fritz, Moraitis and Miranda Tomlins ran 4:04.40, a time that was originally believed to be the school record.

It wasn’t.

“We had the wrong record on the school board,” Moraitis said. “The actual record was written down somewhere else, so we thought we broke it last year. We had it in the paper and everything. Then our coach looked at the thing with all the official records and apparently it wasn’t. That was embarrassing and disappointing at the same time. … It was more exciting coming into this year and breaking those records and redeeming ourselves.”

Moraitis’ phenomenal three-week closing stretch began May 19 at the KLAA Lakes Conference meet when Hartland won the 800 relay in a school-record 1:45.83. Smith, Anna Kunz, Strutz and Moraitis broke the mark of 1:46.20 set in 2005.

Moraitis did not have a relay partner older than a sophomore, so perhaps those records will go down in the coming years.

“They’re going to have good teams coming up in the future,” Moraitis said. “We’ll see what they can do.

“When I became a junior, a lot of really good, fast seniors graduated that I ran with as a sophomore. I was a little worried. When they came in as freshmen, it was really nice getting to know them and getting excited about them being on our relay teams, because I didn’t know if we would have any fast kids coming up.”

When Moraitis hit the finish line in the 1,600 relay at the state meet, her career as a track and field athlete was over. The three-sport athlete will play basketball at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana.

“I’m definitely not going to (run track) in college,”  she said. “It was a good way to finish it up.”

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