“When I was first asked about this meet 16 years ago, it was humbling,” Anderson said. “We got this started in 1958, and I coached through the ‘69 season. Then I got the assistant principal job so I had to give it up. In 1996, (Greg) Russick and (Tom) Laughlin decided they had to do something, and I have been most honored by that.
“To see so many boys and girls to compete in cross country is wonderful, and this is a great facility to host this event.”
A big crowd came out to Grand Haven’s Buccaneer Stadium to watch the Buccaneers’ girls, the defending Division 1 state champions, run to victory despite the absence of their No. 1 runner, sophomore Claire Borchers. She is out with the flu.
Her teammates picked up the slack, with five athletes finishing in the top nine and seven in the top 15.
In the Division 1 race (schools with over 800 students), the Bucs took eight of the top 11 spots, led by Julia Stock, who was second with a time of 20 minutes, 12.50 seconds. Spring Lake’s Brittany Beeler was first in 20:00.10.
The overall girls’ winner was Hesperia senior Alexa Rumsey, whose time of 18:42.70 set a meet record. Nicole Zeinstra of Holland Black River was next at 19:24.80.
Grand Haven’s Priscilla Vanheest was third in the Division 1 meet at 20:14.3, followed by Kirsti King, Brooke Spruit, Roxy Glasser and Cat Keegin in fifth through ninth places. Lindie Vallier was 11th and Hannah VanRees 12th.
“It’s a good way to start the season,” said King, a senior at Grand Haven. She and her classmates won the Don Anderson Trail Run each of their four years.
“It’s kind of sad because it’s our senior year, but this is tradition, and it’s a good kick-off to our season,” VanHeest added. “It’s a good race for all the newbies to see their potential.”
Spring Lake placed second in the Division 1 race. Following Beeler was freshman Carlyn Arteaga in 14th place at 22:15.1. Halle Billinghurst took 17th, followed by Ashley Warner in 18th and Jamie Kossuth in 19th place. Gretta Nyboer was 22nd for the Lakers.
“We finished second to Grand Haven, and I’m happy with that,” Lakers’ coach Aaron Andres said. “I’m really happy with our 3-4-5 runners. They stuck together. Carlyn, our freshman, is a 400 runner. She’s just learning how to run these races.
“I always look at the difference between our No. 1 and 5 runners, and looking at our times from last year, our No. 5 runner is two minutes faster than our No. 5 runner last year.”
Andres credited Billinghurst with providing tremendous leadership to an otherwise-young squad.
In the Division 1 boys race, Grand Haven dominated, taking six of the top seven spots to claim first place with just 18 points. Spring Lake was second with 55 points.
Grand Haven’s Ryan Duff (17:07) and Justin Pippel (17:25) took the top two spots, followed by Holland Christian’s Zach Ailes.
Next were the Bucs’ Schalk Vanniekerk, Dylan Tarr, Turner Sale and Brady Durant in the fourth through seventh spots.
The top two finishers overall were Grandville Calvin Christian’s Zac Nowicki and Simon Reidsma, who ran away from the field and finished in 16:19.9 and 16:26.2, respectively.
“The two guys from Calvin really took our kids out fast,” Bucs’ coach John Tarr said. “Justin had a great race. For this point in the season, his time was pretty remarkable. Schalk tried to get past a lot of the guys in the middle of the race and kind of burned himself out.
“As a coach, you always think you’re going to be faster, but we had a really good effort tonight.”
For the Lakers, junior Andrew Cole led the way, placing eighth in a time of 19:02. Elliot Austin was 10th at 19:27.4, followed by Ryan Galligan and Connor Galligan in 11th and 12th places. Tom Kordupel was 14th, and Riley Warmoth placed 16th.
“I was happy. We had two groups of guys finish as a group,” Lakers’ coach Greg Brown said. “Andrew Cole was our lead runner with Ryan Galligan, his brother Connor, and Elliot Austin. That’s a good grouping for us. It’s a great start. Our whole team is running faster than it did last year.”