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October 30, 2014
By: Butch Harmon

Area cross country runners off to a fast start


SPORTS:

SCHOOLS:

By DAVID COOK
The high school cross country season is in full swing, and area runners are blazing the trails with a number of teams and athletes among the best in the state.


Thr Ithaca Yellowjacket girls cross country team is turning in a big season. They are ranked first in the state in Division 3 and have been dominating the Tri-Valley Conference. Sophomore Courtney Allen has been leading the way, but depth has been key for the team, as senior Hannah Thayer and juniors Blaire Showers and Kurstin Kalisek have also been turning in strong efforts. The foursome all finished in the top 11 at the Holly Invitational that Ithaca won.


Shepherd is right behind Ithaca in the Division 3 poll. The Shepherd girls have been turning in a solid season, as they won the Division 3-4 title at the Delta Invitational. Senior Taylor Thrush placed third at Delta and leads a strong squad that includes sophomores Katelyn Hutchinson and Kylie Hutchinson, who both finished in the top ten at Delta.


Pewamo-Westphalia has also been ranked in the top five in Division 3. The Pirates are paced by sophomore Olivia Nurenberg, who has turned in a number of top-ten finishes this season. Sophomore Brenna Wirth and freshman Brooklyn Nurenberg have also been among the team's top runners.


The St. Louis girls have enjoyed plenty of success this fall. Sophia Bradley has led the way for the Sharks. She won the title at the Delta Invitational in Division 3-4 and also placed fifth in the white division at the power-packed Spartan Invitational at Michigan State University. Mallory Munderloh has teamed up with Bradley to give St. Louis a devastating one-two punch on the trail.


Lansing Catholic also has a top-ten team in the state. Sophomore Abigail Gilmore has been leading the way for the Cougars.


One of the top freshman runners in the area this fall has been Remington Hobson of Montrose. Hobson won the title at the Holly Invitational and placed second at the Delta Invitational.


In Division 4, Sacred Heart Academy and Beal City have been battling for state supremacy, as both teams are ranked among the top five in the state. Sacred Heart placed fifth in the white division at the Spartan Invitational. Sisters Alexis McConnell, a sophomore, and Bailey McConnell, a freshman, have led the way for Sacred Heart.


Beal City finished second in Division 3-4 at the Delta Invitational. Senior Emily Steffke has been pacing the Aggies this fall.


New Lothrop is also ranked among the top ten in Division 4 in the state. Freshman Courtney Krupp has been leading the way for the Hornets.


In Division 2, DeWitt is ranked sixth in the state. The Panthers have a deep squad, led by seniors Shelby Waterson and Jordan Lee along with freshman Katie Vitou.


Cedar Springs features one of the premier runners in the state in senior Kenzie Weiler. Weiler ran a time of 18:23 to win the title at the Spartan Invitational.


In Division 1, the Rockford Rams are ranked sixth in the state. Junior Larissa Medich and freshman Megan Parker have paced the Rams this season.


Rockford also boasts one of the premier boys' cross country teams. It is ranked no. 1 in the state in Division 1 is shooting for its 20th consecutive OK Red Conference title this year. The team placed second in the elite division at the Spartan Invitational led by junior Isaac Harding, who finished eighth as an individual with a time of 15:39. The Rams have also been bolstered by freshman phenom Cole Johnson, who placed 21st at the Spartan Invitational.


Heritage is also ranked among the top ten in Division 1. The Hawks placed seventh in the elite division at the Spartan Invitational led by senior Parker Eisengruber, who finished 18th overall as an individual.


Midland is another strong Saginaw Valley squad. The Chemics placed second at the Holly Invitational and are led by Jacob Greer.


In Division 2, Corunna is the top area squad. The Cavaliers are ranked sixth in the state and are led by sophomore Noah Jacobs and junior Blake Watson.


Clio is ranked 10th in the state in Division 2. Juniors Ethan Taljonick and Dylan Mosher have led the way for the Mustangs, who won the bronze division at the Spartan Invitational. Taljonick placed second as an individual at that invitational with a time of 16:22.


Lansing Catholic is ranked no. 1 in the state in Division 3. Senior Keenan Rebera, one of the top runners in the state in Division 3, has led the way for the Cougars. He placed seventh in the elite division at the Spartan Invitational and also turned in the fastest time at the Grand Rapids Cougar-Falcon Invitational.


The Clare boys are ranked third in Division 3. The Pioneers have turned in a number of solid efforts this season, as they won the Holly Invitational and the Division 3-4 title at the Delta Invitational. Senior Kyler Phillips sets the pace for Clare, while sophomore Ben Haupt and senior Kevin Spicer-Torres have also been running near the top.


Shepherd is also in the top five in Division 3. The Bluejays won the white division title at the Spartan Invitational. Junior Walker Priest turned in a top-ten finish at the Spartan Invitational and leads a deep squad that includes sophomore Tyler Travis and senior Andrew Hutchinson.


The Pewamo-Westphalia boys have also been ranked in the top ten in Division 3. Senior Caleb Barker has been leading the way for the Pirates, with junior Grant Hengesbach and sophomore Bryce Thelen close behind.


Beal City is off to a strong start in Division 4. The Aggies are ranked fourth in the state and finished fifth in the white division at the Spartan Invitational. Senior Nick Pung has been leading the way for the Aggies. Pung finished second at the Delta Invitational, leading his team to a third-place finish. Junior Ethan Schafer has also been among Beal City’s top runners.


Sacred Heart Academy has also been ranked in the top ten in Division 4 this season.

Sophomore Evan Goodell of St. Louis has been among the top individuals this season. Goodell won the white division title at the Spartan Invitational with a time of 16:29. He also won the Division 3-4 title at the Delta Invitational.


Hemlock junior Ryan Hilbrandt is also off to a fast start this year. He placed third at the Delta Invittional and finished fifth in the white division at the Spartan Invitational with a time of 16:50.