“This was the perfect weather,” said Spring Lake sophomore Carlyn Arteaga of the light rain and brisk late-morning temperatures. “It numbs everything.”
The rain surely didn’t dampen Spring Lake’s spirits as Arteaga was second overall in a 1-2-3 Lakers’ finish and a team title. Returning all-state competitor Brittany Beeler, a senior, won the event in 18 minutes, 59.9 seconds, which beat out Arteaga by about 12 seconds. Lakers’ freshman Erin O’Keefe was third at 19:35.5.
The inaugural invitational was named in the memory of Spring Lake’s first cross country coach, Mel Hall. His son, Jim, fired the starting pistol to start each race.
The second straightaway leading into the woods on the grounds of Spring Lake High School was marked with a sign, “Mel Hall Memorial Course.”
Hall would have been proud of the Lakers, who could be one of the favorites to move on from its Division 2 regional next Saturday in Allendale. Spring Lake was fourth last season.
“We’ve been doing really great this year,” said Arteaga. “We really love each other, which I know sounds corny, but we support each other no matter how we do.”
The Lakers had two other runners in the top 15, as Ashley Warner placed 11th with a time of 19:59.8, and Brooke Carrier was 15th at 20:29.5. The Lakers totaled 32 points as a team, which easily beat out runner-up Sparta (56) and third-place Kenowa Hills (75). Fruitport was eighth at the 10-team meet with 244 points.
Both Arteaga and O’Keefe wouldn’t make any predictions about the upcoming regional.
“You never know how it’s going to turn out,” Arteaga said.
“It’s going to be a tough regional, but if we get through, I think we can do pretty good at state,” O’Keefe added.
In the boys’ race, Kenowa Hills’ standout Jeff Bajema sprinted to the lead off the starting line and never relinquished the top spot in a stellar performance. He won the 5K race in 15:56.7, and helped the Knights also win the team standings.
The host Lakers were fifth in the 10-team field, while Fruitport was sixth.
Fruitport’s Aaron King led the Trojans with a 13th place showing at 17:23.1. Spring Lake’s top finishers were Tom Kordupel in 15th (17:26.3) and Connor Galligan in 19th (17:39.7).