By Chad Wingert
CARO — Frankenmuth’s Emily Wee and Olivia Shelton have been best friends for as long as they can remember.
They’ve done everything together, dating all the way back to their early years of elementary school. The duo has also been competing against each other from an early age. That’s why when Wee and Shelton were forced to share the Thumb Track and Field Meet of Champions highest honor of Female Athlete of the Meet on Tuesday, it only seemed fitting.
“We are best friends, so winning this award together seems so perfect,” Wee said. “When we were in grade school, they always had skills competitions and they always had to give out two awards because Olivia and I would always win.”
Shelton added: “They had to make an exception for us back then and I guess they still do now. I wouldn’t want to share this award with anyone else.”
Both Wee and Shelton performed at the highest level, bringing home a total of six medals, five of which were gold. Wee won the 300 hurdles and she took second in the 300 hurdles while Shelton won the 100 dash. Shelton also ran a leg of the Eagles first-place 400 relay team while together, both Shelton and Wee, ran stretches of the 800 and 1,600 relay teams which also took home the top spot.
However, things haven’t always been smiles and awards for these two best friends. They’ve also experienced some hard times together.
As a sophomore, Shelton was forced to miss her second season with Frankenmuth’s track team due to a torn ACL. Then almost a year later, Wee suffered the same injury, which placed her on the sidelines for her entire junior season, forcing her to miss the 2011 Meet of Champs, the MITCA state finals and the MHSAA State Finals.
But this year, with both of them healthy and running together for the first time in two seasons, it made them want to set the bar higher.
“It’s fitting too because, Olivia and I have gone through so much of the same things. I missed my junior year and she missed her sophomore year with the same injury,” Wee said.
“I think, with both of us being on the track this year, together, it made us work harder…it made us want it more,” added Shelton.
Shelton, Wee and the Eagles did win the Tri-Valley East but fell just short of accomplishing another one of their goals for this season – winning the MITCA Team State Championships. Frankenmuth took second at the meet but set four new MITCA state records in the process.
The Eagle team of Sydney Bronner, Angie Ritter, Wee and Shelton set a new record in the 800 relay while, Frankenmuth’s 1,600 relay team of Lauren Peterson, Carly Hammond, Shelton and Wee also set a new state mark.
Individually, Wee broke MITCA marks in the 100 hurdles and the 300 hurdles while best friend Shelton set a new record in the 100 dash.
Now, with spots secured in today’s MHSAA Division 3 State Finals, Wee and Shelton have their sights set on even more state records.
The Eagles duo were thrilled to qualify for the 40th annual running of the Meet of Champs and their success left huge smiles on their face. But, in the big picture, the Meet of Champs only served as a warm-up to the biggest stage of them all – The MHSAA’s Division 3 State Finals.
“For me, in the 100 hurdles, today was a good way to continue to push myself. Today’s race was really neck-and-neck and I know that there is an amazing girl who I’ll be going up against at states,” Wee said.
“The team state finals is so awesome because of the team camaraderie and the team aspect of the competition. That makes it really fun. But, individual states really says it all, for me.”
Shelton added: “The MITCA meet was one that I think pushed me a little harder. But really, every meet you have to come out and do your best. Especially now that we only have one meet left.”
It’s no secret that Frankenmuth’s track and field program has been riding high over the past several seasons. But after competing against large Class B schools and sometimes even Class A schools, Wee and Shelton enjoy seeing how they measure up against other teams in the Thumb. No matter what the size of the school.
“I like that this meet includes all teams from the Thumb area. Not just Division 2, Division 3 or Division 4, but all of the teams. We don’t see a lot of these teams during the regular season. So, it’s always interesting to see how you match up with some of these smaller schools,” Wee said.
“I also like how, at this meet, they take the time to recognize each event winner,” Shelton said. “You get to stand on that podium and that’s when everyone knows that you’re one of the best. That’s a great feeling.”
Chad Wingert is the Sports Editor of the Advertiser and can be reached at [email protected]
By Chad Wingert