Jack Nicholson out kicked Zach Pettinga from Saugatuck in an exciting finish to claim the individual championship, his fourth invitational championship of the season. The race was run at a blistering pace from the start, despite the steady rain and sloppy conditions. Nicholson came through the first mile in 4 minutes, 57 seconds, then ran the second mile in 5:10, hanging back on the leaders until the 100-meter mark when he sprinted into the finish.
Although Nicholson ran a great race, the most impressive races might have come from Quentin Couvelaire in fourth (16:39) and Eric Johnson in sixth (16:40).
"These two guys have been sick for two weeks, but they kept hammering their workouts and today it paid off and they ran like champs to put us up in the rankings where we should be,” said Grand Haven coach John Tarr.
Rounding out the scoring was Dominic Hentemann in 10th with (17:13), Aidan Martin (17:14) 11th, followed by Dominic Weatherwax (17:26) and Kyle Eveland (17:36).
"Henteman, Martin, Weatherwax and Eveland, all closed some gaps today that we have been working on in practice, and they made us a better team today with that,” said Tarr. “Overall, we had a great day. We had 33 season PRs, put six runners in the top 11 in the Division 1 race and five in the top 20 in all divisions, so we are in good shape for the last month of the season."
Bucs girls finish second
The Grand Haven girls cross country team finished second in the Division 1 race. The Bucs totaled 68 points, five points behind first-place Rockford with 63 points.
Sophomore standout Gabby Hentemann added another first-place finish to her resume, finishing the race with a season-best 18 minutes, 28.81 seconds. Eliza Lowe added a personal best (19:30.92) to finish in eighth place, while Abby Buitenhuis (19:50.10, 14th place) and Kirsten Prelesnik (20:11.86, 20th place) both added new season-best times.
Both boys and girls Grand Haven cross country teams will host the second O-K Red jamboree at Buccaneer Stadium on Tuesday.
Fruitport boys cross country team wins home invite
The Fruitport boys cross country team won its own invitational tournament on Saturday. Aaron Simot led the pack for the Trojans, taking first place overall. Simot was followed by Cameron Oleen (third), Mitch Johnson (fourth), Brendan Deneen (ninth) and Nick Kleinhecksel (19th).
The Fruitport girls team finished with an impressive third-place finish on Saturday. Freshman Faith Clark led the Trojans with a ninth-place finish. She was followed by Kendra Johnson (15th), Katana Daniely (24th), and Kallie Fehler (42nd).
WMC cross country teams battle through muddy conditions
The Western Michigan Christian cross country teams competed in a wet and muddy Fruitport Invitational on Saturday morning at Rycenga Park.
The boys placed seventh out of 11 teams.
“The boys had their hands full with plenty of state-ranked competition and ran well on a course that was not running all that fast,” said WMC coach Greg Gould. “The rain combined with some slippery wooden bridges and long grass on soft turf kept the times a little slow for this point in the season. While we did not have any personal bests today, our only senior, Jacob VanderPloeg, ran his best time this season.
"We had one medalist in the top 25 today with Eli Rotman finishing in 17th place, and almost had another in Jack Zuidema at 26th place.”
The WMC girls team placed sixth out of nine teams.
“We really pushed some of our girls to step up, as we were without two of our teammates who were taking the SAT test,” said WMC coach Beth Aardema. “The girls came through, with our sophomore tandem of Sarah Vanderkooi and Josie Aardema taking second and third overall. Behind them, one of our first-time team members, Anna Weesies, turned in a personal best that really helped solidify our team placement today.
"The result was good for our girls. While we were down a bit in team scoring, individually, we had some great races that will only help us as we get ready to attempt to advance to the State Finals as a team. We had two medalists today with Sarah and Josie, so we continue our streak of having at least one medalist in the invitationals this season.”
The Warriors return to competition on Tuesday at the second Lakes 8 Conference meet at Orchard View High School.