Local cross country teams take on Portage Invitational

Tribune Staff • Oct 8, 2018 at 2:41 AM

The Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Fruitport and Western Michigan Christian cross country programs all traveled to Portage on Saturday to compete at what many consider a state finals meet preview event.

The event is split into four divisions, based on school size, with more than 35 schools in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 and 24 in Division 4.


The Grand Haven boys cross country squad had their most successful outing in team history at the Portage Invite, finishing sixth out of 36 teams in the Division 1 race, scoring an all-time low of 233 points.

Ann Arbor Pioneer won the event with a team score of 102, followed by Dexter (127) in second place, Ann Arbor Skyline (148) in third, Davidson (151) in fourth and Saline (198) in fifth.

"I'm very pleased with this performance, mostly because our guys did what we asked them to do," said Grand Haven boys head coach John Tarr. "They got out quick, got into the positions we told them to, and they held on to those spots throughout the race. We were fifth or sixth throughout the entire race. Most importantly, we tightened up our grouping and brought five guys over the finish line in front of the rest of the O-K Red."

Dominic Weatherwax finished 20th overall with a time of 16 minutes, 29.4 seconds to lead the Bucs, while teammate Andrew Ireland (16:45) finished 32nd. Cole Rowden (16:58.7) finished 49th, Aidan Martin (17:13.3) finished 63rd and Kyle Eveland (17:18.4) finished 73rd to round out the team scoring for Grand Haven.

"Once again, leading the team and medaling was the dynamic duo of Dominic Weatherwax and Andrew Ireland," added Tarr. "Weatherwax used his speed to pass six runners in the last mile. Cole Rowden also medaled for the boys finishing in 48th place with 16:58.7 passing 10 runners in the last two miles."


The Grand Haven girls cross country squad scored 272 points to finish 10th overall at the Portage Invite.

Northville (120 points) finished first, while Bay City Western (138) finished second and Traverse City Central (144) finished third.

Gabby Hentemann finished third overall with a time of 18 minutes, 26.3 seconds to lead the Bucs, while Abby Buitenhuis (19:46.6) finished 28th. Kelsie McManus (21:00.4) finished 76th, Jenna Ray (21:04.3) finished 80th and Edan Traub (21:24.2) finished 97th to round out the team scoring for Grand Haven.

"The 272 points is the lowest we've scored at that event in seven years," said Grand Haven girls head coach Scott Przystas. "Gabby Hentemann ran an incredible race, jumping out to 10th place at the mile and slowly chipping away towards the front. She came into the final 800 in second place, only to finish third overall with a season-best time of 18:26. Abby Buitenhuis got out in 27th place and maintained that position, only slipping to 28th with a time of 19:46 to earn medalist honors.

"This is probably the most competitive meet on our schedule leading up to the championship races, with 13 of the top 15 teams in Division 1 at this meet, along with two powerhouse schools from Ohio. My challenge to the girls was to forget about Wednesday's conference meet and get out and compete today, which they did. All seven girls were dialed in and racing from the get-go.

"We had really good positions through the first two miles, then let a few places slide by, which they will learn from. I'm really proud of how the girls responded and showed that they belong in the upper echelon of teams throughout the state. It was a very competitive meet with only 150 points separating 1-10, so the girls learned a lot about just how important a finishing kick can be. Gabby ran great today and showed she's one of the state's best runners with a very methodical climb from 10th to second place, then ultimately finishing third. I was also very happy with how Keslie and Jenna raced today. Both got out quick in their races and ran tough, holding their positions well. We will need their leadership and experience as we head into the championship phase of our season."

The Buccaneers travel to Gainey Field on the campus of Calvin College for the Kent-Ottawa County meet at 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 13.


The Spring Lake boys cross country team finished fifth of 46 teams in the Division 2 race of the Portage Invite on Saturday with 235 points.

Chelsea took top team honors with 144 points, while Fremont (184) finished second, Otsego (196) finished third and Cedar Springs (199) finished fourth.

Ben Hylen recorded a time of 16 minutes, 9.6 seconds to finish ninth overall to lead the Lakers, while Andrew Hylen (16:35.8) finished 18th. Callen Carrier (17:01.8) finished 46th, Ian Hill (17:15.7) finished 59th and Matthew VanderWall (17:55.2) finished 108th to round out the team scoring for Spring Lake.


The Spring Lake girls cross country team finished 12th of 45 teams at Saturday's Portage Invite with 407 points.

East Grand Rapids took top team honors with 66 points, while Lexington (100) finished second and DeWitt (212) finished third.

Maggie Cooper finished 45th overall with a time of 20:23.8 to lead the Lakers, while Anna Fedewa (21:02.2) finished 72nd. Chloe Lohman (21:25.9) finished 94th, Elizabeth Penrice (21:34.2) finished 97th and Julia Bajt (21:38.4) finished 103rd to round out the team scoring.


The Fruitport boys cross country scored 504 points to finish 19th out of 46 teams at the Division 2 race of the Portage Invite on Saturday.

Brendan Deneen finished 21st with a time of 16:45.5 to lead the Trojans, while teammate Jon Wildey finished 44th (17:01.4). Cameron Weaver (18:11.9) finished 140th, Peyton Sharlow (18:17) finished 149th and Jaxon Deneen (18:21.3) finished 155th to round out the team scoring.


The Fruitport girls cross country team finished 37th with a team score of 948 in the Division 2 race of the Portage Invite on Saturday.

Faith Clark finished 42nd overall with a time of 20:15 to lead the Trojans, while Abigail Sykes (22:53.9) finished 180th. Kristen Lord (23:51.5) finished 231st, Analiza Sanchez (24.23.2) finished 244th and Madison Hawkins (24:40) finished 255th.


The Western Michigan Christian boys cross country team finished fifth overall with 172 points at the Division 4 race of the Portage Invite on Saturday.

Saugatuck took top team honors with 46 points, while Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (68) finished second, Breckenridge (99) finished third and Potterville (147) finished fourth.

Jack Zuidema (17:16.5) finished eighth overall with a time of 17:16.5 to lead the Warriors, while Eli Rotman (17:19.2) finished ninth. Ben Garretson (18:17.4) finished 32nd, Tyler Gould (19:00.5) finished 58th and Caleb Croff (19:46.7) finished 78th.

"After a one-hour weather delay, the boys were able to finally get the day started in the first race of the day, on a course that now featured a good amount of mud and standing water," said WMC boys head coach Greg Gould. "We were a little short-handed today, as we were missing a couple of boys who would usually play a part in our team score. We rose to the occasion and ran to our best finish ever in one of the biggest meets in Michigan and the entire Midwest. We faced 29 schools in our race, placing fifth with 172 points. We also put three athletes into the top 50 as medalists."


It was another phenomenal race for Western Michigan Christian freshman standout Abby Vanderkooi on Saturday, as the talented ninth grader recorded the fastest time of the day of any female runner, regardless of division.

VanderKooi took top honors in the Division 4 race with a time of 17:22.2, edging Ericka Vanderlende of Rockford (17:33.1) for the top time of the day.

As a team, the Warriors finished fourth overall with a score of 127, just behind Saugatuck (66), Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (87) and Jackson Lumen Christi (120).

Fellow freshman Ava Rotman (20:57.4) finished 19th, while senior Sarah VanderKooi (21:26.4) finished 28th, Josie Aardema (21:36.1) finished 30th and Natalie Riksen (23:52) finished 68th.

"The girls took to a course that was drying out, but had been torn up a bit by two boys races that had already taken place," said WMC girls head coach Kevin Aardema. "Between some small injuries and illnesses, we were pleased to run to a best-ever fourth place team finish with 127 points, just missing the team podium, as we were just seven points away from third place.

"Additionally, we put four athletes in the medals, placing in the top 50."



In a rescheduled make-up game, the Spring Lake boys soccer team put together a complete effort in a 5-0 drubbing of Coopersville on Saturday.

Tommy Fine and Malachi Mulder each netted two goals to lead the Lakers' attack, while a late finish by Porter Saunders rounded out the scoring.

The team will celebrate Senior Night in their last regular season home game Tuesday, as they host Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

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