By David Troppens
When it comes to the cross country season, the state meet at Michigan International Speedway is the ultimate destination for those seeking state honors.
And, of course, the final league meets and regional meets leading to the state event get a lot of headlines as well.
However, during the final week of the cross country season, there is another type of race that is just as important to many runners — the post a PR events.
The tri-county area had all four schools compete at the Tortoise & Hare Post a PR Classic at Huron Meadows Metro Park, with many runners looking to set personal-best or season-best times in for what many of the competitors is their final race of the season.
While the tri-county area has five teams and representatives from seven squads headed to the state meet, for plenty of area runners, Tuesday’s PR race was their state championship.
Fenton has both programs headed to the state meet, but still had 59 runners compete at the PR meet. Among the 17 girls, 16 set season record times, with five setting PRs. The boys had 42 runners and pending on some results that have yet to be compiled, about 28 runners had personal best times and 32 had season best times.
In the fastest heated men’s race, Lake Fenton’s Joseph Gilbert took fifth (16:37.1) while Fenton’s Michael Crane took ninth with a persona-best time of 16:47.7. His previous best time was 17:15.
Holly had a strong group of runners in the men’s mercurial race, placing four of the area’s next five fastest runners in it. They were Mason Rosa in 25th (17:06.1), Gabe Sanchez in 27th (17:07.9), Nolan Weisdorfer in 44th (17:18.1) and Bradley Baxter in 62nd (17:35.1). Griffin Rose also ran for the Bronchos (17:55.1).
Fenton had three other runners in the fastest of three men’s races. They were Aidan Brzezinski (17:26.4), Hunter Wheeler (17:47.0) and Gavin Thomas (18:25.5). Lake Fenton had three others run in the top race — Logan Whittecar (17:50.3), Kevin Lewis (17:56.1) and Matt Fletcher (18:00.4).
Nine tri-county athletes competed in the women’s mercurial race with Linden’s Alexis Mawhinney leading the way in 19th place (20:12.6). Others finishing within the top 100 were Lake Fenton’s Claire Hunt in 31st (20:37.9), Linden’s Jessica Jablonski in 41st (20:49.7), Holly’s Monica Ruiz in 51st (20:57.8) and Linden’s Maureen Fenoll in 85th (21:37.0). Others who ran ion the race were Linden’s Karyn Taylor (21:56.6) and Nicole Palmer (22:30.3), Fenton’s Laruen Gadola (22:26.9) and Lake Fenton’s Salina Mueller (22:28.1).
But just as important are the other two races — the winged foot and the fleet foot events. Those events involve a lot of the depth runners on a team, but plenty have days they won’t forget when they post a personal record. In the winged foot race, Fenton’s Noah Sage finished sixth with a time of 17:57.7, creating a great time drop from his previous best time of 18:41. For the Fenton girls Aubrey Lynch dropped more than a minute from her best time, posting a time of 22:06. Her previous best was 23:31.
In the boys race, the area’s top 10 runners were Linden’s Grant Maxheimer (17:53.2), Hayden Bradfield (18:07.6), Casey Cohen (18:20.6), Luke Webster (18:21.4) and Ricky Rockman (18:30.3); Fenton’s Sage and Nur Cashmere (18:30.3); Holly’s Roger Reppuhn (18:23.7); and Lake Fenton’s Nick Learman (18:22.6).
After Lynch, the area’s other runners that were among the 10 best from the tri-county area in the winged foot race were Fenton’s Ella Cox (22:15.1), Madi Canada (22:42.0), Abigail North (22:54.3), Brooke Thomas (23:16.5) and Taron Masi (23:21.5); Linden’s Coleen Blackwood (22:30.9), Emma Miller (22:51.9) and Katelyn Palmer (23:02.9); and Lake Fenton’s Evelyn Riley (22:51.2).
The fleet foot event also had some great Fenton showings, Anderson said. Aubrey Harmon and Maty Temrowski each dropped their best times by better than a minute. Harmon improved to 24:11 from 25:15. For the Fenton boys, Wyatt Haiss improved to a 18:34 from a previous best of 19:21.
The area women who placed in the top 20 of this event included Temrowski in fifth, Fenton’s Angelina Vitarelli, in ninth (24:01.1), Harmon in 11th and Linden’s Grace Thomas in 16th (24:26.1).
Area boys who placed in the top 20 of the fleet foot race were all Fenton runners. They were Haiss in second, Jake Lescher in fifth (18:54.9), Evan Koch in 11th (19:13.4), Connor Chambers in 14th (19:21.1) and Luke Defina in 18th (19:26.4).
Anderson said he Crane became the team’s sixth runner to race a sub-17 minute race for the boys. It is the first time the boys have had six runners race under 17 minutes. There were plenty of other impressive marks created, showing just how deep the Tigers are.
“It is a super unique race that is one of my favorite days of the year as a coach,” Anderson said. “Especially after performances like yesterday.”