By: John Raffel
Pewamo-Westphalia runners celebrate state title and runner-up finish
It was quite a day on Nov. 5 for the Pewamo-Westphalia cross country program.
The boys took first place and the girls placed second in the Division 4 races at the Michigan International Speedway.
The P-W boys posted 131 points to finish ahead of Harbor Springs, which was at 144.
In the team race, Bryce Thelen placed fifth (16:43.2); Mitch Nurenberg, 29th (17:18.6); Brock Simon, 30th (17:19.4); Kyle Hengesbach, 32nd (17:21.3); Trent Barker, 35th (17:28.5), Zach Schmitz 38th, (17:29.9); and Troy Hagen 173rd (20:53.4).
“The team did fantastic and the course was in pretty good condition,” Thelen said. “Everything worked the way we wanted it to; it was a great feeling. Our team's been going better all year. We worked every day.”
For individual placings, Thelen took seventh, Nurenberg 35th, Simon 36th, Hengesbach 38th, Barker 43rd, Schmitz 46th and Hagan 226th.
“It was a really good day for us,” P-W coach Scott Werner said. “Coming in, I thought we had a really good shot to do what we did. We've been working hard since June. We were focused on this day. We run as a pack, that's how we work. We were able to work our way through the field and come out with a pretty good result.”
The boys team won its conference, region and several invitationals. Werner was confident coming into the season he had a team capable of winning the state title.
“I know my kids well and they work very hard,” Werner said. “They were committed. I made the challenge for them back in June that they needed to do a lot of work to get there and they did.”
The girls were in the same division as powerful Sacred Heart but still took second with 116 points. In the team race, Aubrey George placed fifth (19:21.1), Cailey George, 22nd (20:35.2); Olivia Nurenberg, 23rd (20:42.2), Bailey Droste, 29th (20:52.9); Emily Nurenberg, 37th (21:12.7); and Brenna Wirth, 69th (22:12.4). For individual placings, Aubrey George was sixth, Cailey George 32nd, Olivia Nurenberg 34th, Droste 42nd, Brooklyn Nurenberg 53rd, Emily Nurenberg 59th and Wirth 107th.
“We were able to make it a really good year,” Werner said. “Our focus from day one was to get to the podium (for second place). There's 148 schools in Division 4. For us to get in the top two is quite an accomplishment.”