By CHRIS DOBROWOLSKI email@example.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Before every meet, Anthony Berry says its a mystery as to who will end up finishing first for TC Central between himself, Kyle Dotterrer and Cam McAuliffe.
Those three have been the lead runners for the Trojans’ boys cross country team in every meet this year, taking turns setting the pace.
There isn’t as much uncertainty when it comes to Central’s team standing within Big North Conference meets.
For the second straight league jamboree, Berry, Dotterrer and McAuliffe were ahead of the rest in leading Central to a first-place finish on Tuesday at Courtade Elementary.
Berry took first in 16:50, while Dotterrer was second (16:56.4) and McAuliffe was third (16:56.9) as Central not only had the top three finishers, but five of the top seven to score 18 points, well ahead of second place TC West (62) and third place Alpena (88).
“It’s so great. It helps tremendously,” Berry said of having three equally talented runners leading the same team. “Training-wise, it’s all of us together with Keefer (Edwards) and Jake (Daniel), our coach, running with us. That really helps a lot. It’s really a good motivator because we’re all really close to the same, so that’s great. Every meet you never know who’s coming in first place. That’s how it goes. I feel like Kyle’s going to win the next one. Keefer, he’s really working hard too to get where me, Kyle and Cam are and Jordan (Query), our fifth, is coming along great. So are the rest of the guys. This is a tremendous year for us.”
The same can be said for the TC Central girls team, which also took first in impressive fashion, claiming the top six spots in cruising to a first-place finish for the second consecutive league meet. Central finished with 15 points, followed by West with 74 and Cadillac in third with 84.
Ashley Ko led the Trojans with a first-place time of 19:01, winning convincingly over the rest of the field. Central’s Molly Peregrine was second (19:50) and was followed by teammates Joy Reist (20:03), Graceanne Tarsa (20:07), Hannah Keyser (20:22) and Emmalyne Tarsa (20:24). West’s Jessica Gockley broke the string of Central runners with a seventh-place time of 20:32.
“It was a pretty tough course, but it was just a lot of mental strength,” said Ko. “You had to stay in the race and stay positive the whole time and keep pushing. So that was really difficult, but I think it helped a lot.”
Ko had a sizable lead through the entire race, but never let off the gas.
“I didn’t let myself look back. I just told myself people were there and kept pushing myself the whole time. It helped to know my team was behind me,” she said.
Peregrine couldn’t keep up with her teammate, but still managed to record a good time despite an unseasonably hot day that included a strong wind by pushing through the elements.
“I knew it was going to be tough with the wind and the heat, but we were all in this together because everybody had the same conditions,” Peregrine said. “Before races we tell each other, ‘O.K., we’re going to focus on effort and we’re all going to work together and push each other.’ It’s working pretty well so far.”
West’s Nick Hirschenberger broke the string of Central runners at the top of the boys race, finishing fourth in 17:14 for a showing he considered a breakthrough for his team. It was the highest finish of the year for a West runner.
“I feel pretty good,” Hirschenberger said. “West is finally starting to break up Central. Hoping to get a good score for the Big North. I think we definitely improved a lot and excited for the next one.”
Central’s fourth runner, Edwards, was fifth in 17:25 and its fifth runner, Query, came in seventh (17:33). After Hirschenberger, West’s next four scorers were Joe Hughes (11th, 17:42), Nick Amato (13th, 17:49), Jimmy Seekamp (16th, 18:06) and Sam Elmi (18th, 18:19).
On the girls side, following Gockley for West were Emily O’Leary (12th, 21:47), Corinne Schrotenboer (14th, 21:58), Amanda Fouchey (20th, 22:29) and Alyssa Ohanesian (21st, 22:39).
“It was kind of spread out today,” West coach Diane Goss said of her team.
The Titans have finished second in both league meets, holding the upper hand on everyone but their crosstown rivals.
“They give us goals to shoot for,” said Goss. “She (TC Central head coach Lisa Taylor) has a lot of strong competitors.”
Among junior varsity runners, Central’s Tyler Sepaniak was the first JV finisher and 20th overall in a time of 18:22. Jacob Dean had the best finish for West’s JV, coming in ninth for JV runners and 43rd overall (19:25).
Among girls JV runners, Central’s Courtney Stewart was first and fifth overall (20;18). Quinn Hall had the top JV time among TC West’s girls, finishing third and 13th overall in 21:34.