ACME — Benzie Central’s depth proved too much.
The Huskies placed six boys in the top 10 Saturday morning to win the Division III cross country regional title at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa.
Coach Asa Kelly’s team finished with 34 points, Mason County Central 57 and Charlevoix 100 to lead the 13-team field. The top three teams advanced to next weekend’s state finals.
The Benzie Central girls also took home a regional championship, edging Manistee 56-63. Hart placed third with 96.
Mason County Central had two of the top three finishers in the boys race, but could not match Benzie’s depth. The Huskies are ranked No. 1 in the state.
“On paper, I knew we had a pretty good shot (Saturday),” Kelly said. “We’ve been running well all season. It’s an incredible group of kids. I thought if we could score under 50 we would have a shot to win it. We scored 34.”
Mason County Central’s Zac Benham won the 5K in 16:41.89. Teammate Chase Barnett was third in 17:10.91. Kingsley’s Jake Keena placed second in 17:03.25.
Kyle Bailey led the Huskies, taking fourth (17:31.22).
“It means a lot,” Bailey said of the regional title. “We went out there and tried our hardest – just kept running, kept passing. We knew this wasn’t a course for time – it’s rough out there – so we focused on placing.”
A sea of red and white crossed the finish line early. Max Gaft came in sixth (17:41.99), Ismael Halaweh seventh (17:42.47), Brayden Huddleston eighth (17:46.20), Noah Robotham ninth (17:51.80) and Jake Williams 10th (18:05.44).
“They ran incredible,” Kelly said. “The beauty of this team is that there is no standout. Today our first guy was Kyle Bailey. It’s the first time he’s been our No. 1 guy all season.
“Kyle was our No. 1 guy at states last season. But the first part of the season he wasn’t even on varsity. He had to work his way back on.”