BEAVERTON – Anticipation. If I had been asked to describe my outlook for the spring season in one word back on April 2 it would have been anticipation. The Beaverton baseball team looked loaded and ready for another run. The Gladwin girls soccer team is always one of the best in the Northern Michigan Soccer League and the Gladwin baseball team along with the softball teams at both schools were young, and promising, but the single event I was looking forward to the most was the state high school track championships.
Last year was my first experience with the event, and I was able to make the trip to the Grand Rapids area to see both Beaverton and Gladwin compete. It was a memorable day. Bright and sunny in the morning at Zeeland High School where I was able to watch the Gladwin athletes warm up before moving on to Jenison High School to see the Beaverton athletes. My plan was to bounce between the two sites and take in as much of the action as possible. Thanks to multiple thunderstorms my plan failed, but this year things would be different. I was really anticipating watching Beaverton’s Will Aldrich vault.
Aldrich finished second in the pole vault last year with a vault of 14 feet, just three inches behind Wyatt Alwine of Constantine. Both athletes were juniors setting up what should have been an exciting showdown. Aldrich had been working all winter in anticipation of the season. Beaverton track coach Phil Eichbauer said, “he is the most consistent, hard working athlete on the team.” According to Eichbauer, he was in the weight room as soon as the football season ended and had worked hard through March. He was often the only athlete in attendance.
Along with his work in the weight room Aldrich had been participating indoor at some of the local colleges. Both Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) and Central Michigan University (CMU) host winter meets. Both Aldrich and Eichbauer mentioned that the indoor season is a good time to “knock the rust off” after football. It also gave him the opportunity to work on technique because most high schools do not have pole vault facilities that can be used during the winter months.
SVSU is also soon to become Aldrich’s home away from home. He plans to attend SVSU to study engineering and business. While there he also plans to join his sister Ali and compete on the track team. Ali is a thrower for SVSU. Eichbauer mentioned that he has “great potential.” The training in college will be more “intense and focused” giving him the opportunity to work on his weaknesses. Speed will be a focus at first. “Once he starts improving in that aspect he will really “take off.” Eichbauer expects him to be very competitive in the conference.
Equipment has been a “limiting factor” for Aldrich. Eichbauer explained that they were running out of poles for him at the high school level. With his height and weight he needed one that wasn’t available last season. He actually competed with a borrowed pole at the state finals. Another competitor allowed Will to use his pole. That shouldn’t be a problem once he gets to college.
Aldrich was also a lineman on the football field playing tackle on offense and end on defense. Football coach Aaron Seiser said, “people probably notices Will more on the defensive side of the ball where he made countless big plays,” but “I would say he impacted the game just as much on the offensive side at left tackle. Like all of our offensive lineman, he is smart, quick, tenacious and physical.”
Aldrich earned All Conference Honors on both sides of the ball. He was First Team
on defense and Second Team on offense. “Will really stood out because he has a very high motor,” said Seiser. “Couple that with a lot of athleticism and you end up with a great football player.” Seiser said that he would be missed.
Mechanical engineering seems to be a perfect fit for Aldrich. He participated in the CTE Program at Mid Michigan College and has really enjoyed welding. He currently works with both his mom and dad at their respective businesses Stryker’s Marine and Waters Edge. He welds for his mom, Stephanie, and helps his dad, Will, put in boatlifts and docks. He hopes to eventually own his own business manufacturing and maintaining hoists and lifts.