West Ottawa tallied 55 points to take first-place honors, while the host Bucs followed close behind with 59 points.
Sophomore Gabby Hentemann led the Bucs, finishing second overall with a time of 18 minutes, 17 seconds. Eliza Lowe and Kelsie Bovee had lifetime personal best times of 18:58 and 19:40, respectively. Abby Buitenhuis and Kirsten Prelesnik rounded out the scoring for the Bucs squad.
“Gabby set the tone for our race today by getting out with the leader and being aggressive from the start,” said Grand Haven coach Scott Przystas. “She has closed a 30-second gap on the leader to 10 seconds. There is no doubt in my mind that she can compete for overall conference champion in two weeks.
“Eliza had the race of her life. She trusted her training that she has done for four years and again, was aggressive from the start. Kelsie had one of the best finishes on the day, passing four girls to get 13th overall and score some huge points. She also had a lifetime PR and has a lot left to prove this season. Abby and Kirsten are both getting better and continue to be rock solid for us. They both ran great races today and continue to hit their strides.”
Przystas was happy to see the team bounce back strong after finishing fourth at the first conference jamboree of the season.
“Overall, our team made huge strides today,” he said. “This meet had six of the top 25 schools in the state in it, and to come within four points of winning it says a lot about the progress the team has made. We are entering our championship season with high hopes.”
Junior varsity: The Grand Haven girls junior varsity team took the top four spots in the race to record 17 points and take first-place team honors. Freshman Jenna Ray won the race with a time of 21:21.
GH boys finish third
The Grand Haven boys cross country team compiled 66 points to finish third in the varsity boys race at their home jamboree. Caledonia (No. 5 in the state) won the event with a score of 43, while Rockford (No. 8) finished runner-up with 51 points.
“Despite losing to the fifth-best team and the eighth-best team in the state, the Grand Haven boys cross country team may have run the best overall team race on their home course, ever,” said Grand Haven coach John Tarr.
Junior Jack Nicholson finished second overall with a time of 16:06, while senior Eric Johnson took seventh (16:36). Senior Quentin Couvelaire took 14th (16:56), while senior Dominic Hentemann took 20th (17:06) and senior Tom Stock took 23rd (17:11).
With the performance, the Bucs moved up to the second seed in the regional rankings, and from 18th to 15th in the state meet projections. The team also improved 30 points from the first O-K Red jamboree.
"This is the best third-place team I have ever coached in my career,” added Tarr. “My choice for race of the day goes to Eric Johnson, who had a remarkable run on the hardest course in the area. There were a lot of great races today, but Eric went out hard and never quit."
Behind the top five, three varsity Bucs runners had great individual races including Aidan Martin (17:24), Andrew Ireland (17:30), Kyle Eveland (17:35), Nathan Wolffis (17:36) and Caleb Borns (17:50).
"I was amazed at these guys, today,” Tarr continued. “They got out fast and ran tough through the whole race. Earlier in the week, I challenged my six through 10 guys to step up and become varsity runners and today, they did that.”