ACME – When Bear Lake’s John Girven and Jordan Anderson pulled away from the field and crossed the finish line almost in tandem Saturday, there was little doubt what boys team was going to take home the Division IV regional cross country trophy at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
The Bear Lake Lakers dominated, placing four runners in the top 7, six in the top 14, to cruise to victory with 28 points. Manton finished second in the 11-team field with 82. Grand Traverse Academy secured the third and final state qualifying position with 114 points.
The Bear Lake girls also triumphed, finishing with 52 points. St. Francis, led by individual winner Holly Bullough, came in second with 82 points and Grand Traverse Academy third with 138. All advanced to next weekend’s state finals.
“I thought we did really well,” Bear Lake coach Tony Shrum said. “Our goal was to get our top five runners in both races into the medals. The girls did that. The boys actually had six medal.
“I’m really proud of what they were able to do. They always seem to rise to the occasion when it means the most.”
Girven and Anderson certainly did, finishing in 18:02.22 and 18:02.65, respectively.
“It was teamwork all the way through the race,” Girven explained. “That’s how it usually is.”
Runners had to contend with muddy, windy conditions.
John Schoedel came in fifth (18:39.61), Shane Peterson seventh (18:50.85) and Jared Bair 13th (19:07.10) for the Lakers.
Bear Lake will be a top contender at the state meet.
“We want to win it,” Girven said. “We haven’t done that in awhile. It goes back to 1994.”
“Absolutely,” added Shrum. “Our goal every year is to hang another banner in the gym. It would be nice, too, if we could put another year on that sign as you drive into town that says cross country state champions.”
Manton was paced by Tommy Brettschneider, who was sixth (18:48.72) and Dillon Gouge, who took 10th (18:56.54).
For Grand Traverse Academy, Dallas Hanna placed fourth (18:19.72), Aaron Kostrzewa eighth (18:51.19), Dan Lock 27th (19:57.33), Sergei Kelley 39th (20:37.69) and Christian Turner 43rd (21:01.10).
“This is a young team we had on the (start) line,” Mustangs coach Kevin York said. “You could see they wanted it. They pushed it right to the finish line”
Mesick’s Zack Workman took third in 18:10.18.
In the girls race, the first of the day, Bear Lake did not have a finisher in the top 5, but did put five in the next nine spots. Keena Gilbert finished sixth (21:20.48) and McKaya Groenwald seventh (21:23.18) for the Lakers.
“We knew St. Francis was going to be a tough competitor with Holly up front,” Shrum said. “She’s (Bullough) such a dynamic runner. We knew we had to run well as a team to beat St. Francis. The girls ran in a great pack and they will have to do the same next week.”
Bullough won the 5K in 19:35.87.
“It was very hilly and, with the rain this morning, muddy,” she said. “My new shoes – all muddy.”
Bullough took control about a half-mile into the race.
“I wanted to win really badly,” she said. “I knew there was good competition so I had to try really hard.”
“I thought she ran a great race,” Gladiators coach Julie Duffing said. “We wanted her to run a good, solid race that she would be comfortable with – and she did.”
Emily Gallagher placed 10th (21:29.48), Erin McDonnell 11th (21:31.50), Annie Lyman 23rd (22:57.70) and Gabby Fournier 37th (23:33.36) for the Gladiators.
“I felt they ran great, especially in these conditions,” Duffing said. “We weren’t really worried about times today. Our most important concern was place. They all knew what their target was, what they had to get. It didn’t quite work out, but we’ll take second. Next week is when it’s really important.”
Sisters Abby and Emma Fifarek led Grand Traverse Academy. Abby was third in 20:58.84 and Emma ninth in 21:25.39. In addition, Autumn Amormino took 21st (22:36.14), Molly Ritsema 42nd (23:48.65) and Alyssa Cullen 64th.
“The girls ran well,” York said. “It was a tough day to race. But they gave it all they had.”
York was especially pleased for Emma Fifarek.
“Emma ran one of her best races,” he said. “The course was pretty slow and most of my kids were a minute to a minute and twenty slower. But she was only 30 seconds (off). She stepped it up big time.”
York was proud that both teams qualified.
“Ten of our 14 runners here today had never been at a regional start line before,” he said. “A lot of kids stepped up. Conditions were tough, but they delivered.”
Bellaire’s Isabella Tremonti placed second (20:21.76) and Buckley’s Kirsi Wildfong fourth (21:07.59).