BROOKLYN — All season Hunter Jones has been putting up phenomenal numbers as a freshman for the Benzie Central’s cross-country team. The story was no different Saturday for the state finals at Michigan International Speedway.
“I’ve really been working hard all season,” Jones said. “It was all just setting goals for myself.”
Jones ran away with the Division 3 state crown with a time of 15:45.0. Jones’ time was 28.9 seconds faster than Andrew Frohm of Vandercook Lake, who finished second.
“It was an amazing performance,” Benzie Central coach Asa Kelly said. “This kind of performance out of Hunter is unheard of as a freshman.”
Jones was part of a Benzie Central team that finished seventh in the state with a score of 239. Benzie Central girls team also came in seventh with a score of 234.
“The cool part of it is that this is a hard work thing,” Kelly said. “We set the bar high in practice and he continues to exceed it.”
Also in Division 3, Traverse City St. Francis would place fourth in both the boys and girls team standings. The boys team finished with a score of 200 and the girls at 176.
“Our women’s team exceeded expectations today,” coach Julie Duffing said. “We were expecting to finish seventh or eighth and we took fourth.”
The fourth-place finish is the best all-time by any TCSF cross country team. The boys finished 54 points behind state champion Hanover-Horton and the girls finished 99 points back from first-place finisher Hart.
St. Francis would have four runners recognized with all-state honors, Libby Gorman, Sofia Rhein and Anna Nielson from the women’s team and Thomas Richards from the boys team. This marks the second consecutive year that Gorman has been named an all-state runner.
In Division 1, Traverse City Central women’s team finished second with 114 points, 24 points back of Ann Arbor Pioneer. Sophomore Julia Flynn and senior Leah Socks both finished in the top 15 as Flynn finished third and Socks 15th. Flynn and Socks were given all-state honors and were joined by junior teammate Avery McLean.
“I am super excited for the podium finish as a team,” Traverse City Central girls coach Lisa Taylor said. “This was a big season of growing and learning. It felt really good to put it all together at states.”
Flynn and Socks were both named all-state for the second time while McLeaned earned her first all-state nod.
“I am super proud of Julia to put together a full race plan,” Taylor said. “We’ve been working with her on that all year.”
The Traverse City Central boys team also placed fifth in the state with a score of 207, 71 points back of state champion Brighton. The Trojans were led by Drew Seabase and Luke Venhuizen, who finished 17th and 35th respectively. Seabase and Venhuizen were joined by Zachary Gerber inside the top 50, as Gerber took 40th. Seabase was recognized with all-state honors for his performance.
“We came in ahead of ranking and put together a solid performance,” Traverse City Central men’s coach Bryan Burns said. “We came in ahead of ranking and put together a solid performance.””It was a great day for northern Michigan cross-country.”
In Division 2, Cadillac’s girls team finished fifth in the state and was led by Chloie Musta, who finished 31st. The Vikings finished with a score of 249.