Above, Hope Wilkes, left, of Columbia Central High School battles Sophia Reynolds of Hanover-Horton High School during the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 cross-country regional on Friday at Ella Sharp Park.
Photo, story by Jeff Steers
Exponent special writer
Grass Lake, three individuals qualify for XC finals
The COVID-19 kids returned for the Grass Lake High School girls’ cross-country team just in the nick of time.
The Warriors finished third at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 cross-country regionals at Ella Sharp Park on Friday.
Grass Lake and three other individual runners will advance to the MHSAA state finals on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. Columbia Central runners Hope Wilkes and Jacob Walker and Napoleon runner Alex Darnell also qualified for the state finals.
The top three teams and top seven runners – not on qualifying teams – advance to the MHSAA state cross-country finals this week.
Three runners were under quarantine for Grass Lake the past 10 days resulting in a third-place finish at the Cascades Conference finals and not running at the pre-regional event.
The Warriors were still able to tie for first in the conference and finish second at the pre-regional event at Springport High School nearly two weeks ago.
Grass Lake finished third with 61 points in the girls’ events, Lumen Christi won the event with 52, and Hanover-Horton was second with 60 points. Napoleon finished sixth as a team with 133 points.
The Warriors were led by Kailee Sandoval finished third overall in 19 minutes, 31 seconds. Ava Viegelahn was ninth for the Warriors (20:45), Isabel Spencer was 11th (21:09), and Madison Bacham placed 15th (21:16).
Wilkes of CCHS finished sixth overall in 20:08. It is the second time the sophomore has qualified for the state cross-country finals.
“You never know how well you are going to run at the state meet,” Wilkes said. “You can win this race (today) and finish 100th at the state meet.
“There is a lot to comprehend (at the state finals).”
Onsted runner Emily Kilpatrick finished just outside of the top seven qualifiers with a time of 21:25.
Napoleon was led by Madelyn Norman who finished 24th in 21:47.
Hanover-Horton won the boys’ 5k regional event with 46 points, Leslie took second with 55 points, and Homer took third with 86. Napoleon finished fifth with 125 and Grass Lake was sixth with 196.
Darnell of Napoleon and Walker of Columbia Center finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Napoleon senior will run at the state meet for another year.
“Last year everyone was so excited, and we went out too fast (at the state meet),” Darnell said. “I think I ran a 5-minute mile and it killed me.”
Darnell will be running with the individual qualifiers and teams that finished third at their respective regional events. He won’t know his place once he hits the finish line.
“I am going to have to look at www.athletic.com and figure out who to run with,” Darnell said.
One of the runners he will look for is Walker of CCHS. The two finished three seconds apart at the regional meet.
“I talked to Alex and we could stay together and catch some runners together at the state meet,” Walker said. “I tried to stay up with him (Darnell), but I didn’t catch up to him until the second mile (at regionals).”
Hugo Gamez of Napoleon finished 18th overall at the regional in 17:34, just missing the top seven. Matthew Rankin of Grass Lake was 20th with a time of 17:40.
Division 3 boys will start at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at MIS for the state finals. The D-3 girls will run at 11 a.m.
Two Addison runners qualify for state XC finals
Addison High School runner Robbie Michalowski qualified for the state meet this Saturday by finishing 15th at the regional meet last week.
Addison High School cross-country runner Robbie Michalowski picked a good time to run his personal best time.
The Addison junior finished 15th at the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 4 cross-country regional on Friday at Ella Sharp Park in Jackson.
Michalowski finished the 5k event in 18 minutes, 5 seconds.
The top three teams and top seven runners – not on the three qualifying teams – qualify for the MHSAA state finals to be held Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway.
Concord easily won the boys team event, Lenawee Christian was second, and Ottawa Lake-Whiteford finished third.
He was one of two Panthers who qualified for the state meet.
Fellow junior Kendal Morris was 15th in the girls’ 5k event in 21:23. She was the seventh individual runner to qualify for the state meet.
Kendall will run at 3 p.m. and Michalowski at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at MIS.
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MHSAA state cross-country finals
Those hoping to attend the Michigan High School Athletic Association state cross-country state finals this weekend at Michigan International Speedway will face some obstacles in obtaining tickets and in seating.
Spectators will be limited to grandstand seating, they will have their temperature checked at the entrance, and must purchase e-tickets via the GoFan site (https://gofan.co/search), the week of the finals.
Attendance is limited to 1,000 spectators per session.
The finals will be run on Friday and Saturday at MIS.
Divisions 1 and 2 will run on Friday and Divisions 3 and 4 will compete on Saturday.
Division 3 boys will start at 9:30 a.m. and D-3 girls at 11 a.m.
Division 4 boys will run at 1:30 and D-4 girls at 3 p.m.
Each of the divisions will be split into a pair of races. Third-place teams and individual qualifiers will run first, followed by the first- and second-place teams from each regional.
Points will be tabulated using times for each of the runners.
The top 30 earn all-state honors.
There will not be a ceremony following races at the speedway.
For more information, go to mhsaa.com and click on cross-country.