by Calli Newberry
The Yale boys cross country team retained its rights to the BWAC title for the fifth year in a row after an overwhelming victory at the third and final conference jamboree of the season. The Bulldogs ran away with just 26 points, while Armada finished second with 70 and North Branch took third with 80, on Tuesday evening at North Branch High School.
“When I started coaching, the Bulldogs hadn’t won the league in 21 years,” head coach Greg Whitican said. “Now they’re at five. This has been 10 years now, so I’m batting 500.”
Not only did his team win the meet, but his runners also made up more than a third of the All-Conference team. Twenty-one athletes make up the All-BWAC team, from honorable mention to First-Team, and Yale had eight crack that top 21, and only of them was a senior, proving they still have a lot left to accomplish.
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This young group of runners was led by junior Lukas Kriesch who finished first in 16:22.4 to earn the conference MVP award. He’s won each of the BWAC jamborees in addition to three other invitationals so far this season.
“It feels great. It’s very exciting, these guys have earned it for sure, it’s a great feeling,” Kriesch said. “This is only the beginning. We’re all pretty sore, pretty busted up, but we ran through this one and the best is yet to come for sure.”
The Bulldogs had a tough week of training, according to Whitican, but they still managed to come out on top.
“I was very confident that even if they were tired they could perform well today, and they kind of proved it,” he said. “I even had guys who PR’d today.”
A trio of sophomores followed behind Kriesch in the top 10: Acer Campbell in third (17:03.08), Giovanni Pardo-Keegan in fifth (17:32.78), and Blake Ferguson in sixth (17:38.10). Rounding out the scoring pack of Bulldogs was freshman Kale Kovach in 11th with a time of 17:55.29, which was a new personal-best time by 20 seconds.
“For Lukas, this was one of his goals in the preseason. We’ll put a checkmark next to that, and he’s got a couple other ones,” Whitican said. “This was one of our goals as a team and we’ll put a checkmark next to that. We’ve got a couple others yet.”
Armada junior Camden Khon ran an excellent race to finish second overall and earn a new personal best time of 16:29.4. His previous personal best was 16:53.0, making Tuesday’s race a big improvement. And breaking up the pack of Bulldogs was Croswell-Lexington senior Ethan McCombs in fourth with a time of 17:10.18, his best so far this season.
North Branch placed three in the top 10: senior David Hadden in seventh with a new personal-best time of 17:38.74, freshman Thomas Shultz in eighth in 17:42.76, also a personal best by nearly a minute, and senior Gabriel Hutchins in 10th with a season’s best time of 17:45.06.
Several of these BWAC teams will meet up again on Saturday for the Thumb Area Cross Country Championship in Caro. Kriesch said his team is looking forward to the race and will be preparing for another victory.
“It’s going to depend on the competition,” he said. “We still want to come out on top so we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to take away the win.”
A couple others will race at the Dryden Cardinal Invitational, while the rest will gear up for the Regional meet on Saturday, Oct. 30 in Algonac.