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Hillsdale High School runner Devin VanDusen races to victory during an outdoor track meetct event.
Shannon VanDusen | Courtesy

Two Hillsdale High School athletes qualified for the New Balance National Indoor meet, held at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York City March 10-12, becoming the first Hillsdale Hornets to compete at a national level.

Senior Rees Nemeth qualified in pole vault after jumping a height of 14′ 3.25″ at an indoor meet held at Central Michigan University. Junior Devin VanDusen broke the record for the initial 60-meter dash qualifying time of 7.14 seconds at an indoor event at Hillsdale College with a time of 7.12 seconds.

Clay Schiman, the athletic director and track coach at Hillsdale High School, said this national meet is a reward for the passion, commitment, and hard work the two students have invested into their sport.

For both Nemeth and VanDusen, however, this sport is fairly new. VanDusen joined the track team his freshman year, setting aside his love of football for something different.

“My coach put me in the 100-meter and I ran a really good time,” VanDusen said. “He didn’t believe it at first, so he made me do it again and retimed me.”

It was from that moment that VanDusen strove to excel at the sport he had initially picked up for fun. After relentless training, along with the support and encouragement of Schiman and his friends, VanDusen began to place at events his sophomore year.

“He won first in everything that year,” his mother, Shannon VanDusen, said.

According to Schiman, Devin possessed a talent for the sport from the very beginning.

“He is very gifted,” Schiman said. “Over the last couple of years he has applied hard work to those gifts, and he’s reaping the rewards of that now.”

Although Nemeth had previously been on the track team as a hurdler, he started pole vaulting last April because the team needed it. Nemeth said the adjustment to this drastically different event took him a long time to figure out.

“I had terrible form,” Nemeth said. “Everything was backwards.”

He didn’t let the initial challenges deter him from success, though. Schiman said Nemeth began driving to Adrian, Michigan to train at Siena Heights University throughout the week, and even took gymnastics classes — even during the off-season.

“Both of them do a lot of this on their own,” Schiman said. “And that’s all to their credit.”

Nemeth said he has seen constant improvement since he started pole vaulting.

“The thing I love about it is you can always get better,” he said.

Devin has become one of the top sprinters in the state, breaking the school record for the 200-meter, and taking fourth in the state.

“He just loves to run,” Shannon said.

Both Nemeth and Devin attested to the way athletics has shaped their lives.

“It made me strive to be better and gave me a goal to work toward,” Nemeth said. “It taught me devotion and commitment.”

Schiman said this is evident in both of their lives.

“You do this because you’re passionate about it,” Schiman said.