All the Tri-Cities schools got involved, sending both their boys and girls teams for a shot at breaking into the state meet this weekend.
BUCS HEADED FOR MIS
The Grand Haven boys team grabbed a team ticket to the big race at Michigan International Speedway Saturday. 2016 will be their seventh straight appearance at the meet.
The Bucs finished with 73 points, earning them second-place overall behind Rockford. Traverse City West took the last qualification spot with 83 points.
Jack Nicholson led the Bucs, taking second overall in 16 minutes, 13 seconds.
“It was a different type of race today since everyone was kind of playing it safe, not going out hard,” said Nicholson of the race. “It turned out pretty well. It felt like I had more energy towards the end. The team felt really packed, we were bunched together like how we should be.”
Quentin Couvelaire followed Nicholson in to finish 13th overall at 16:44 and Eric Johnson came in 14th with a time of 16:46. Dominic Hentemann officially prolonged the Bucs season with his 19th place finish at 16:57.
Rounding out the varsity runners were: Aidan Martin at 25th (17:07), followed by Tom Stock and Dominic Weatherwax in 27th and 28th, both at 17:09.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Nicholson said of the impending state race. “This is my third year in a row. The state meet is always hectic and always such a good time. It’s so competitive; so many teams are there. It’s such a fast race and the last chance of the season so see what you’ve got. Its always fun to go.”
LATE KICK PUSHES GH GIRLS TO STATE
The Bucs girls team got it done as well at Allendale on Saturday. The girls finished runner up behind Rockford, earning a bid to the state meet. Rockford took the region with 70 points, ahead of Grand Haven’s 81. This will be the program’s17th consecutive trip to the state meet.
Gabby Hentemann led the team, reprising her second-place overall finish from last year. Her 18:43 earned her All-Region honors. Fellow All-Region honoree Eliza Lowe followed close behind, taking fifth overall in 19:02.
Abby Buitenhuis (19:54), Meadow White (19:56) and Kelsie Bovee (19:59) rounded out the top five for the lady Bucs with a pack finish of 23rd, 24th and 27th place.
“Gabby did exactly what she needed to do today and that was run smart and comfortable and secure second place,” said Grand Haven girls coach Scott Przystas.
“Our 2-7 runners had a great first mile, then we lost our focus because the girls for out a little faster than they are used to and lost ground. Eliza was 12th coming in to the final kilometer and passed seven girls to finish fifth. Meadow and Abby passed six girls each in the last 200 meters and Kelsie sprinted passed five more in the last 100 meters.
“That is 20 plus girls our team passed which equals to a 40-point swing. If they don't do that then we are sitting at home next weekend. This was one of the best finishes I have ever seen out of any team, not just ones I have coached,” said Przystas.
SCHOOL RECORD LEADS SL BOYS TO QUALIFICATION
The Lakers earned their state qualification in school record fashion. Andrew Hylen took second-place overall in 16:06, setting a new Spring Lake school record.
Hylen led Spring Lake to a third-place team finish. Henok Ghirmay claimed 17th overall in 16:48. Cameron Thalhammer nailed his race, finishing in 21st place just ahead of Ben Hylen in 22nd clocking in 17:12 and 17:14, respectively.
Mathew Schmidt finished in 27th in 17:21. Rounding out the Laker varsity squad was Matthew Vanderwall in 18:02 and Joe Negen in 18:51.
“The goal today was more about doing your personal best as far as the race goes, not as far as times go,” said Spring Lake boys coach Jennifer Gwinnup. “We talked a lot about running through the pain, welcoming the pain. They all had to dig deep today, and I think they did.”
Hylen has been leading the Lakers all season with stellar runs and hyper focus.
“Andrew is very focused. If you watch him during warm-up, he has a very straight face and doesn’t joke around,” said Gwinnup. “He’s the same way when he trains. He is still young and super talented. He is still trying to find where his limits lie.
Even running short of his perceived limits, Hylen is still the best the Spring Lake program as ever seen. He will look to find his limit and lower his new school record at the state meet this coming Saturday.
BAJT BOUND FOR STATE
The Spring Lake girls team will have some skin at the state meet, sending their lead runner, Julia Bajt, who took fifteenth overall at the regional meet Saturday. She finished third among girls who did not earn a team-qualification, making her eligible to compete at the state meet.
Bajt’s 20:10 led Spring Lake, who took fifth as a team at the regional meet. Freshmen Taylor Rebone took 25th in 21:59. Maggie Cooper and Rose Henke came in together taking 37th and 38th, while Maddy Windberg rounded out the Laker squad with a 45th place finish.
TROJANS SEND SEVEN
The Fruitport boys cross country team finished second overall at Saturday’s Division 2 boys race at Allendale High School to qualify all seven members of the varsity squad to this weekend’s state finals at Michigan International Speedway.
The Trojans placed four runners in the top 20 to record 69 points as a team.
Senior Mitchell Johnson finished fourth overall with a time of 16 minutes, 8.94 seconds, while fellow senior Aaron Simot added a 10th-place finish at 16:31.86.
Also qualifying for the Trojans were: junior Cameron Oleen (16:33.14, 11th place); sophomore Brenden Deneen (17:04.83, 20th); freshman Nick Kleinheksel (17:20.45, 24th); senior Raven Lockard (18:15.95, 57th) and sophomore Peyton Sharlow (18:21.25, 60th place)
WARRIORS GET EIGHT
The Western Michigan Christian girls cross country team placed four runners in top 15 to record 40 points and finish with top-team honors at the Division 4 regional meet at Allendale High School.
With the win, the Warriors qualify all seven members of the varsity squad to this weekend’s Division 4 state finals at Michigan International Speedway.
Senior Logan Williams finished second overall with a time of 20 minutes, 16.71 seconds, while sophomore Sarah Vanderkooi finished third with a time of 20:36.54.
Sophomore Josie Aardema finished sixth with a time of 21:18.79, while senior Chanaiya Richards added a 13th-place finish in 22:33.87. Junior Emma Brink finished 26th with a time of 24:11.72, while freshman Emma Visker finished 39th with a time of 25:12.85 and senior Leah Sweetman rounded out the team with a 42nd-place finish in 25:41.32.
The WMC boys team finished fifth as a team with 117 points, but did have one individual qualifier in sophomore Eli Rotman.
Rotman finished 14th overall with a time of 17:57.46 to qualify for the state finals.