By: Scott Keyes
Mason cross country gearing up for state
When Team Playmakers hosts a high school running event in mid-Michigan, you can bet the finish line speakers will be cranking out an inspirational tune as the runners sprint for the wire.
"Final Countdown,” “Eye of the Tiger,” and “Pick Up the Pieces” have been at the top of the playlist for the past several years.
But at the Greater Lansing Championship on October 15, Mason junior Tanner Hinkle looked like he was enjoying a bit of Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” as he tore through a stiff northerly breeze for his first-place Bulldogs. Hinkle’s time for the 5K at blustery Ledge Meadows Golf Course was a leisurely 16:06, yet he still won the race by 14 seconds over Zach Zingsheim of Lansing Catholic Central.
"I wasn’t really worried about time too much, because I knew the wind was going to slow it down,” said Hinkle, who earlier this season broke the school record previously held by his father when he won the Spartan Invitational in 15:23. “I went out pretty conservative the first mile (4:56), and then the second mile I really pushed to try to break everybody.”
Hinkle had plenty of help on the front end, as teammates Alex Whitmer (4th, 16:24), Mason VanDyke (5th, 16:37) and Joe Cecil (9th, 16:46) all cracked the top 10 for the top-ranked team in Division 2. Jacob Hanson finished 23rd in 17:17 to complete the scoring for Mason, which finished with 42 team points. Haslett (81), Ionia (95), and Lansing Catholic Central (99) staged a spirited battle for runner-up honors while Okemos was a distant fifth at 256.
"I still think we’re a couple of weeks away from peaking,” sixth-year Mason coach Charles Miller said afterward. “It was another great race for Tanner and our second through fifth runners all finished strong. So I really feel good about where we’re at heading into the state finals.”
The invitational victory was the Bulldogs’ third this season. They also won their own invitational as well as one at Portage. They finished second at Bath and third in the Elite division at the Spartan Invitational.
Alex VanCamp (3rd, 16:22) and Alex McCormick (6th, 16:37) ran strong races for Haslett. Jimmy Hicks (7th, 16:38) and Keenan Rebera (12th, 17:01) were strong for Lansing Catholic Central, the No. 2-ranked team in Division 3 behind Calvin Christian.
Nick Wharry (8th, 16:38) and Brice Brown (10th, 16:57) led the way for Ionia, the No. 3 team in Division 2 behind Mason and St. Joseph.
In the girls' race, Mason freshman Meg Darmofal finished first in 19:05. DeWitt won a tight scrap for the top team spot by edging Grand Ledge 108 to 101. East Lansing was third with 134, followed by Mason with 209 and Williamston with 240.
Emily Murdoch led DeWitt by finishing fifth in 19:31. Christy Snelgrove (4th, 19:21) and Allison Dible (9th, 19:55) gave Grand Ledge two runners in the top 10, while Mado Glew (15th, 20:04) and Hannah Busch (22nd, 20:14) led a tight East Lansing pack . Karrigan Smith of St. Johns (2nd, 19:07), Raquel Serna of St. Louis (3rd, 19:11), Emma Frost of Lansing Catholic Central (6th, 19:37), Lindsay Poll of Stockbridge (7th, 19:46), Audrey Tremaine of Leslie (8th, 19:49) and Hannah Grischke of Williamston (10th, 19:57) completed the top 10.