Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 5, 2011

Area runners outplaying gridiron gangs


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---- — Fall is for football.

In northern Michigan, you could add running to that, too.

This area has become a hot spot in the state for running -- both at the recreational and high school levels.

That's because the communities, and schools, promote and support running. As a result, this area is turning out some quality runners.

Just look at what happened in the collegiate cross country ranks last Saturday. Runners from this area made a statement.

Down in Urbana, Ill., sophomore Julia Otwell (Traverse City Central) led Michigan State to its second consecutive Big Ten Conference women's cross country championship. Otwell finished sixth overall in the 6K with a personal-best 20:30.

In Muncie, Ind., Tecumseh Adams (Harbor Springs) won the Mid-American Conference men's race with an 8K time of 24:01.6. It was nearly 25 seconds faster than his previous best at that distance.

On the women's side, junior Charnele Lyons (Traverse City Central) sparked Central Michigan to a second-place finish. Lyons finished sixth overall with a 6K time of 21:13.9. That beat her previous best by nearly a minute.

At Alma, junior Morgan McCardel (St. Francis) helped Hope College capture the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association women's title for the first time since 2004. McCardel, one of four Traverse City runners on the team, finished ninth overall in the 6K in 22:28.7. She was Hope's third counter.

On the men's side, Dan Kerr (Petoskey) won the MIAA individual championship, finishing his 8K in 24:52.2. That led Calvin to another title. Kerr was named the MVP of the league.

A week earlier, Aimee Marsh (Traverse City Central) placed 11th overall as West Florida won the Gulf South Conference championship.

All of this came right after Adrian Chouinard (Traverse City Central) qualified for the Olympic Women's Marathon Trials, the second former Central runner to do so this year.

The success stories could well continue today with the high school state cross country championships at the Michigan International Speedway.

Although football dominates the headlines, it's no secret that our prep athletes fare best in cross country and downhill skiing at the state level. That's where most of our state championships are won.

Northern Michigan teams should be right in the mix again today.

The Benzie Central girls could bring back a Division 3 state title. The Huskies are ranked No. 1 in the state.

The Traverse City Central and Grand Traverse Academy girls will contend in Divisions 1 and 4. Central, which finished second a year ago, is ranked No. 9, but the Trojans seem primed for a breakout performance today. And that's with a lineup comprised primarily of sophomores and freshmen.

Grand Traverse Academy is ranked No.3 in Division 4.

Individually, Johannesburg-Lewiston's Meridith DeLuca should be near the front of the pack.

All in all, it could be another big day for area runners.