Ranked ninth in Division 2, the Linden varsity boys cross country team was seemingly a bit underrated in recent weeks.
The Eagles proved that to be the case on Saturday at the Portage Invitational.
In an event which included eight ranked teams, the Eagles finished third, at the Portage Invitational, finishing only behind the top two ranked teams in the state.
And it wasn’t like the Eagles were dominated. Second-ranked St. Clair won with 89 points, while top-ranked St. Joseph recorded 106 points. The Eagles, who were the only team to have two of the top five runners, placed third with 128 points, while third-ranked Cedar Springs was fourth with 137 points. Sixth-ranked Ionia was a distant fifth with 215 points. Other teams Linden beat included fourth-ranked Grand Rapids Christian, seventh-ranked Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern and eighth-ranked Richland Gull Lake. In fact, the Metro League represented well. Unranked Clio placed ninth at the event, suggesting Linden’s Metro League jamboree victories deserve more credit than one originally suspected.
“The kids ran really well,” Linden coach Clint Lawhorne said. “While we may have caught some teams off guard with our performances, we weren’t surprised. The kids ran the way both coach (Seth) Normington and I knew they could. They were aggressive from the start and raced to the end. It was a great day for our team, but we need to get better if we want to take home a trophy at MIS in November.”
Of course, Lawhorne was hinting at the state meet. The Eagles know what it takes to place high at the state meet. Linden’s boys cross country team is the most current tri-county squad to win a state title, winning it in 2008. Before that season, the Eagles took third in 2007 and fifth in 2006.
The Eagles were the only team to have two runners finish in the top five or to finish under 16 minutes. Graham Elliott and Roger Phillips led Linden, finishing fourth and fifth place, respectively. Both came in with times of 15:52. Zach LeMieux was 34th (16:34), while Ryan Torok was 42nd (16:40). Dave Doyle capped the scoring five by posting a 43rd-place finish in 16:41. Kyle Susalla, 56th in 16:52; and Adrian Taylor, 77th in 17:11; capped the Eagles’ top seven. Only St. Clair had its top seven finish earlier than Linden’s seven runners.
Tri-County Top Five
According to the Tri-County Times sports staff, these are the top five fall sports teams in the area through Monday’s events. For more updates check www.tctimes.com or the EZ read version of the paper during the weekend.
1. Linden boys cross country
2. Fenton girls golf
3. Holly boys tennis
4. Lake Fenton football
5. Linden girls golf