FHS girls' harriers regional champs!
Freshman Wesley Beck qualifies as an individual
By Coach Mike Snyder
The girls cross country team captured the Regional Championship for Division 3 at Delta College this past Saturday and earned a trip to the MHSAA State Finals held at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) next Saturday. The girls were tied with Sanford-Meridian at the two-mile mark and Coach Fitch and I knew that this race was going to come down to who was going to have the fastest last 1.1 mile. We were seeded 19 points ahead going into the meet but Sanford-Meridian’s girls where having a great day with a few personal records included. Our girls held on and won by a close three points, but it was a win that was hard fought and helped along by other teams that had runners place higher than they were originally seeded. That is how these types of meets go – you need your own runners to do well and you need other runners from other teams stepping up to help with the point spread against the main team(s) you are competing against. It was a nail-biter all the way through the meet and we really did not know the outcome until it was posted. We were comfortable with the fact that we had a very good chance of finishing in the top three teams which would give us a birth in the MHSAA State Finals, but we really wanted that Regional trophy as the last time the girls won a regional was back in 2001 and 2002! The girls worked hard for this all season and it was well deserved.
The regional team heading for the MHSAA State Finals next week was led by Junior Hannah Loucks with a 5th place finishing time of 20:25. Hannah was not happy with this time, but she needed to challenge herself and go out with the leader to see how long she could hang on. This is what next Saturday’s MHSAA meet will be like. That first mile may have taken a little too much out of her, but she still finished strong and placed very well. Next in was freshman Samantha Rapson with a 7th place finishing time of 21:02. Samantha is a strong runner and someone to watch moving forward. Another strong freshman, Kallie Lindow was our third runner today as she placed 14th with a time of 21:33. Sophomore Zoe Neirink placed 17th with a time of 22:00 followed by senior Autumn Gentner who place several places above her seeded placement to help secure the championship with her 18th place time of 22:07. Autumn has been running hard the last part of the season and it is coming at just the right time. Rounding off our varsity was freshman Bailey Stainforth with a 30th place time of 23:01 followed by sophomore Gabby Harris in 33rd position with a time of 23:13.
There was a Post Regional Open Meet (PROM) offered that gave our junior varsity runners another chance to participate in one more race which Coach Fitch and I thought was a great idea. Freshman Tara Keller led the way for the girls in this race with a 9th place time of 22:21. Tara is looking good in her races as she is finally starting to feel better. As the Regional and State teams were set, Tara has earned the first alternate spot for the Regional and State teams and we feel confident that if she is needed, she would continue to run strong. Senior Abby Struble is our 2nd alternate for both Regional and States and she has performed very well for a first time runner finishing 23rd with a time of 23:27. We are very happy Abby decided to give cross country a try as she has performed very well all season. Our next runner in was freshman Hayleigh Atkin with a 33rd place time of 23:52 her second best time ever. Following Hayleigh was Lulu Karney in 36th with a time of 24:01. Next up was Heather Atkin setting a personal best time of 25:08 finishing 59th. Heather looked good today and it was nice that she was able to set a personal record at the regional venue. Sophomore Nissia Bernard clocked her second fastest time of her career with a 25:20 good for 64th place. Next up was junior Abbey Kerkau who has been running on sore Achilles all season but finished well with a time of 27:07 (90th) which was her second best mark this season. Sophomore Mackenzie Miller is also running hurt, but she was also determined to run this last meet of the season as she placed 104th with a time of 29:03. We have several tough girls that run through pain just so they could compete and this shows a lot of heart and dedication to the team.
For the boys, we had three athletes that had a chance to finish in the top 15 runners which would qualify them for the MHSAA State Finals as individuals. In order for this to happen, they would all have to set personal records to have a chance as they were seeded below the top 15 going into the race. Freshman Wesley Beck was the lone boy that made the top 15. The boys knew going into the race where they were seeded and who they had to beat. Freshman Wesley Beck was in 18th place coming into the last 400m. Coach Fitch and I (and I’m certain Wesley’s dad) let him know exactly what he needed to do as he headed to the finish. Wesley responded as he passed three runners at the end and claimed that 15th spot setting a personal record of 17:44 along the way. Senior Isaak Biddle had a chance as well but came up just shy finishing in 20th place with a time of 18:09. Isaak has been a main stay on the team for the past four years and he ran a tough race to end his high school cross country career. Senior and first time cross country runner Sam Stahlbaum also had an outside chance if he knocked 30 seconds off from his personal record. Sam gave it a valent try as he finished 23rd with a time of 18:27. Sophomore Scott Nedoff ran a great race today as he set a life-time personal best mark of 19:13 finishing 42nd. Scott is really starting to blossom as a runner as he continues to get taller. Sophomore Sam Piper was in next with a time of 19:58 good for 58th place followed by sophomore Michael Valone just missing his personal record as he placed 64th with a time of 20:20. Freshman Nicholas Hyslop finished with his second fastest time of his running career placing 67 with a time of 20:36.
The boys junior varsity team ran in the PROM race led by junior Sam Neirink placing 64th with a time of 20:50. Senior Hunter Duehring finished his high school running career very well as he set a season best mark of 21:27 (87th) just missing his life-time personal best of 21:22. Junior Anthony Harris finished in 24:09 good for 95th place followed by junior Austin Notter with a time of 23:28 good enough for 140th position. Junior Eric Hayes finished with a time close to 23 minutes as his results were not included in the results in athletic.net. Freshman Conner Duff finished 152 with a time of 24:09.
Coach Fitch and I are very happy with the results and the extended season into the MHSAA Finals next Saturday. The girls are currently ranked 14th in Division 3 and we will be looking forward to seeing if they can move this placement higher. For the boys, Wesley will have a great experience as a freshman running at the State Finals.