By: Butch Harmon
Ithaca, Breckenridge runners sizzle at Allendale invitational
High school cross country fans were treated to a show by two of the premier runners in the state as Ithaca’s Lani Bloom and Muskegon West Michigan Christian’s Abby VanderKooi hooked up for a showdown at the Orange and Gold Town Crier Invitational at Allendale High School.
The two elite juniors did not disappoint as VanderKooi turned in a time of 17:26.08 to win the race while Bloom placed second in a time of 17:26.5. VanderKooi’s time was the second fastest time in the state for all classes this season while Bloom’s time was the fourth best time in the state for all classes.
“She (VanderKooi) is an awesome runner,” Bloom said. “I was really hoping to race her. That was the reason we came out here to run.”
Bloom’s time was part of an impressive effort by the Yellowjackets that enabled Ithaca to total 22 points and win the meet by 42 points over second-place Kalamazoo Christian.
Ithaca senior Grace Wieburg placed third overall (19:52.71) followed by junior Rachael Sierakowski (fourth, 20:37.85), senior Josie Morrow (sixth, 20:58.72), freshman Liliana Lehnst (seventh, 21:02.71) and senior Abi Whitford (eighth, 21:03.53).
In the boys race, Ithaca made it a clean sweep for the day as the Yellowjacket boys edged Saugatuck 42-47. Senior Braxton Lamey led Ithaca as he placed second in a time of 15:59.03. Lamey was joined in the top ten by sophomore teammate Parks Allen (fifth, 16:19.10) and junior Epsen Lehnst (sixth, 16:33.44). Placing in the top 20 for Ithaca were junior Nolan Woodman (13th, 18:23.23) and junior Hector Sanchez (16th, 18:44.88).
Breckenridge junior Mason Sumner, the defending Division 4 individual state champion, showed that he is rounding into mid-season form as he won the race in a time of 15:53.4. That time was the 18th best time in all divisions in the state this season.
Sumner trailed Lamey of Ithaca during the early portions of the race before turning it on with a strong finishing kick.
“My first mile and a half was not so good,” Sumner said. “Around the second mile I tried to pull up next to Braxton. He’s a real good runner. I was next to him and then the last 400 meters I kicked it in. This was definitely a real big win.”
Breckenridge also received strong efforts from senior Colttion Vine (eighth, 17:16.50), freshman Isaac Humm (12th, 18:14.30) and freshman Sawyer Stoneman (18th, 18:52.54).