By Calli Newberry
More than 400 varsity runners across several divisions line up to race in the 33rd Annual Algonac Classic cross country meet on Saturday, Sept. 11.
In a season preview, Yale High School cross country coach Greg Whitican said this year’s boys team could be the best he’s ever had, and after Saturday’s performance, things are certainly trending that way. His team won the Boys Division 2-3-4 race with a score of 35, ahead of St. Clair with 49, and Croswell-Lexington who finished third with 107 points.
Junior Lukas Kriesch won the division race with a personal-best time of 16:29.0, ahead of Marysville senior, Brock DenUyl, who finished second in 16:36.5. And finishing third overall, junior David Harris of St. Clair crossed the finish line in 16:48.1.
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A pack of navy, royal, white, and red swarmed the finish as the next seven runners to come down the final straightaway were from Yale, St. Clair, and Cros-Lex, helping their teams to top-three finishes. In fourth was Cros-Lex senior James Elling (17:07.7), then Yale sophomore Giovannia Pardo-Keegan (17:09.2), followed by St. Clair junior Carter Boullard (17:16.1), then Yale’s Blake Ferguson, a sophomore (17:21.1), and a pair of Saints, seniors Cole Cunningham (17:25.2) and Sam Vitale (17:26.4), rounded out by Cros-Lex senior Ethan McCombs (17:35.9) in 10th overall.
In the Boys Division I race, Port Huron Northern captured first as a team with 52 points, ahead of Grosse Pointe South with 74 and Utica with 84 points. The Huskies placed all of their top-five scoring runners in the top 20 overall in a well-rounded team victory.
The overall winner hailed from Utica, junior Trent McFarland, who crossed the line in 16 minutes flat. The first Northern runner to finish was sophomore Luke VanderHeuvel, with an incredible improvement in time. His previous personal best was 17:54.0 from last year’s final MAC White meet, and on Saturday, he shattered that time by more than a minute, with a new best of 16:49.2. His junior teammate Glen Davis finished right behind him in fifth, also with a new personal best time of 16:59.2.
Juniors Michael Paoletti and Matt LaFreniere from Northern nearly tied for 13th, with times of 17:09.2 and 17:09.8, respectively. And sophomore Luke Maher rounded out the Husky pack with a 16th-place finish in 17:21.8.
The only two area athletes to finish in the top 20 of the Girls Division I race came from Northern: junior Therese Georgia and junior Dylan Pasia. They both ran personal best times of 20:21.9 and 21:10.8, respectively, to take 14th and 18th overall. Their team finished ninth with 222 points. Oxford, Utica, and Macomb Dakota swept the top three team places, as well as the top five individuals.
In the Girls Division 2-3-4 race, Warren Regina took the overall team victory with 65 points, but Marysville ran a close race to finish second with 73 points. And sliding into third place with the smallest team spread was Cros-Lex with 107 points.
Grace Zdankiewwicz, a senior from Warren Regina, finished first in 19:09.7, but runners from Marysville and St. Clair managed to break the 20-minute barrier as well and crack into the top three. Senior Hannah Fisher, who earned All-State honors in the 800-meter run in June, finished second in 19:40.7, and junior Ava Pergitone crossed the finish in 19:56.4 to take third.
Senior Reese Powers from Marysville finished sixth overall in 20:15.7, and a pair of young Pioneers from Cros-Lex captured ninth and 10th: sophomore Morgan Newton and freshman Eva Thompson. They finished in 20:32.9 and 20:34.6, respectively.
Saturday’s meet was a great preview for the Division II Region 17 Championship meet that will take place on this same course with many of the same teams on Saturday, Oct. 30. But between now and then, teams have three conference meets to race, and the first of them is on Tuesday, Sept. 14. The BWAC Jamboree will be in Richmond at 5 p.m., the MAC-Blue Jamboree is at Freedom Hill County Park at 4:30 p.m., and the MAC-White Jamboree will be at the Port Huron Central Middle School at 4:30 p.m.