How well they make that transition could determine how successful the Buccaneers’ boys can be this fall.
“It’s weird without Ryan (Duff) and Schalk (VanNiekerk),” said Pippel, who opened his senior season by placing third at Tuesday’s Don Anderson Trail Run at Grand Haven High School. “We’ve got to take over the leadership spot. It’s taken a while to get used to it.”
Swain missed his junior season because of a broken foot, so he’s facing an even bigger challenge this fall.
“This is our only home meet of the season, so it’s nice to get out on our home course,” Swain said. “We had a great summer of training. But this is an early season race. It’s the end of the season that matters.”
Grandville Calvin Christian’s Zac Nowicki and Andrew Rylaarsdam ran away from the field, finishing first in second with times of 15 minutes, 53 seconds and 16:10.
Pippel was third at 16:52, while Swain took ninth at 17:42.
Joe Sherman was 11th for the Bucs in 18:01, followed by Turner Sale in 20th place at 18:26.
Spring Lake’s first runner across the line was Connor Galligan, who took 22nd in 18:38. Noah Rick was 27th in 18:49, while Will Morrison placed 31st at 18:55.
No team scores were kept at the event, which is named in honor of Don Anderson, a longtime administrator and coach at Grand Haven.
Buccaneers’ coach John Tarr is happy with the way his team has responded following the graduation of several of his top runners from the past few years.
“We had 5-6 guys who contributed to our team the last four years,” Tarr said. “Now all of a sudden, Justin and Will are thrust into that leadership role.
“Justin is doing really well. Will has been dinged up a little bit lately. We need to get him healthy.”
In the girls’ race, Grand Haven fared well in its first event under new coach Scott Przystas, who took over for legendary coach Greg Russick. Russick was honored before the race and presented with a plaque commemorating his years of outstanding leadership of the program.
The Bucs’ Claire Borchers took fourth in a time of 20:11. She was followed by teammates Roxy Glasser in seventh place at 20:40 and Lindy Vallier in eighth at 20:46. Malea Teerman, a freshman, was 10th at 20:57.
Hannah Kenny, another freshman, placed 20th for Grand Haven in 22:06.
“I was happy with how the team ran their first meet and how they competed with some very talented area teams,” Przystas said. “Claire ran a very smart race for where her fitness is at right now. Lindy has put in a lot of miles this summer and is hoping to make the most of her senior season.
“Roxy showed a lot of patience in her running today and ran a faster second half than first half.”
A total of 55 Grand Haven girls competed in the event. Przystas said nearly half of them were running their first organized cross country race.
Coach Aaron Andres’ Spring Lake team also ran well, with senior Brittany Beeler finishing third with a time of 19:51.
A pair of Jenison runners — Ellie Leonard and Bailey Johnson — won the race with times of 19:09 and 19:11, respectively.
The Lakers’ Erin O’Keefe, a freshman, was 11th in 21:04, while Lacie Piekarski took 14th at 21:13. Brooke Carrier, also a freshman, was 22nd in 22:19, followed by Ashley Warner in 23rd place at 22:32.