Cross country: Two Rayders, Logger earn All-State honors
Rams fifth, Rayders sixth in Division III
Erica Westbrook (right) of Boyne Falls earned her third consecutive spot on the Division IV All-State girls cross country team Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. (Photo courtesy Patty Sutton)
The Rams, who last season finished runner-up in the Division IV state meet, placed fifth in Division III Saturday at the state finals at Michigan International Speedway, while the Rayder girls followed right behind in sixth.
Top-ranked Benzie Central won the team title, finishing with 126 points, while Kent City was second, 146; Hanover-Horton was third, 166; followed by Jackson Lumen Christi, 190; Harbor, 197; and the Rayders, 212.
“We were just seven points out of fourth place,” Harbor coach Emily Kloss said. “I was pretty pleased and I can’t complain. We moved up into Division III and we knew it would be tougher and I would’ve been happy with a top-five finish and that’s where we ended up.
“The girls all worked very hard and we had a respectable showing to be in the top five.”
Manistee senior Kelly Schubert won the individual title in 17 minutes, 58.6 seconds, while St. Louis junior Raquel Serna was second, 18:23.1.
Two Rayders, freshman Amber Way and junior Olivia Certa, earned All-State honors. Way finished ninth in 18:55.0, while Certa was 18th in 19:16.4. The top 30 finishers earn All-State.
Way’s finish was the best ever by a Charlevoix female runner, and her time is a school record. Alina Dhaseleer held the previous record, 19:09, and her 11th place finish in 2008 was the best finish ever for a Rayder runner until Way’s accomplishment on Saturday.
“Amber and Olivia ran perfect races up front,” veteran Charlevoix coach Mary Plude said. “They ran the way they always run. Amber is one cool customer up there and she went out very strong, was in the top 30 or 40 and she was then ninth coming back into the stadium where she held her position for the final three-quarters of a mile or so.
“She just ran great.”
Plude also lauded the effort of Certa, who last season ran for Ellsworth in the state finals in Division IV.
“She moved up from about 20th or 25th and she felt it a little bit,” Plude said. “She was tickled to death afterwards. I think last year was a bit of a shell shock for her and jumping up to Division III, she was happy.”
For the Harbor girls, senior Maddie Buntin finished a team-best 41st in 19:47.8, while junior Rhi Cullip was 52nd, 20:03.9; followed by freshman Charlotte Cullip, 66th, 20:09.1; junior Kaitlyn Alessi, 68th, 20:10.4; sophomore Autumn Kihnke, 70th, 20:10.7; sophomore Betsy Simons, 87th, 20:27.6; and junior Taylor Sydow, 160th, 21:28.6.
It marked the first time the Harbor girls have qualified for the state meet as a team, but did not have a runner earn All-State honors.
“I was pleased for Maddie (Buntin) to finish her career on top,” Kloss said. “It was good for her. She’s been to the state meet all four years and she’s been All-State twice.
“Charlotte (Cullip) also did really well. We had just a second apart between our No. 3 and No. 5 (runners) and we had the second-fastest No. 5 runner (Kihnke) in the state behind Benzie Central.”
Also for Charlevoix, senior Annie Dipert was 46th, 19:58.4; followed by senior Molly Jeakle, 60th, 20:06.5; sophomore Caroline Boss, 181st, 21:47.9; senior Stirling Witthoeft, 201st, 22:19.6; and senior Jane Balasz, 223rd, 22:59.0.
“Annie (Dipert) ran a really good race and she knew coming in she had an outside shot of being All-State,” Plude said. “Molly (Jeakle) has been anemic all year and she lost some training this summer. She just seemed to run out of gas. She’s been guiding this team for years now and she’s looking forward to track season.
“Our other girls ran their races and they ran pretty much what they expected to run. I’m proud of our team, proud of what we got and they got rewarded accordingly.”