Alexa Keiser made some school history Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Keiser capped her outstanding cross country career by earning All-State honors for the fourth straight season with an eighth-place finish in the Division 1 girls cross country state race. Keiser became the first four-time All-State performer in Fenton cross country history for either gender.
Meanwhile, Fenton’s Adam Jesse also earned All-State honors for a second straight year, taking 24th in the boys D1 race. Holly’s Andrea Ruiz gave a run at earning All-State honors, but finished 37th.
The Fenton boys finished 11th as a team while the girls placed 19th.
Keiser began her race a bit behind the pack, finishing her first mile in 5:59 in about 50th place. However, as the race continued, she moved up. She finished her second mile in 11:52, moving to the mid-20s. By the end of the third mile, she was in a large pack of runners at 17:41 within the top 10 in the race. Of the group that finished the third mile at 17:41, Keiser beat all of them and placed eighth.
“I am extremely happy about my finish this year at state,” Keiser said. “I accomplished exactly what I wanted to do.”
“Alexa’s accomplishments are incredible, “ Fenton assistant coach Sue Larsen said. “In cross country, she has been all-state four years in a row with a top-10 finish her senior year. She has won all 12 FML meets. She led the girls team to its first ever team regional title and ninth place team finish at state meet her junior year. She was regional champion this year. In indoor track, she was the 3200 state champion her junior year and all-state her sophomore year.”
In outdoor track, she was all-state both sophomore and junior years in the 3200 and regional champion in the 3200 her sophomore year. She won her heat at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in the 2 mile this past summer. She has school records in XC, 3200, 4x800, 1600. The list goes on and on.”
Jesse started the boy’s race with a 5:14 first mile, starting well back in the pack. But like Keiser, she started knocking down runners. He finished the second mile by 10:25, and finished his third mile in 5:04, making a big move into the All-State placements. He eventually placed 24th in 15:59.2.
“I felt really good about my performance,” Jesse said. “I accomplished my two goals of being All-State and breaking 16 (minutes).”
Fenton boys placed 11th overall. Logan Canada flirted with a top 30 finish for a good portion of the race and finished in 41st overall (16:14.9). Fenton’s other three scoring placers were Samuel Cox in 114th (16:44.7), Gage Bond in 125th (16:51.0) and Micah Dekraker in 150th (17:00.8). Fenton’s final two runners were Josh Maier in 175th (17:10.8) and Remington Stepp in 177th (17:11.8).
“As a team we out-performed our projections by placing 11th, so we are really happy about that,” Jesse said.
The Fenton girls placed 19th, and their next two best runners after Keiser were sophomores. Emily Grob continued to grow her progress this season by taking 128th (20:04), while Taylor Huntoon finished 132nd (20:07). Fenton’s final two scorers were 147th (20:12.1) and Jessica Adams in 198th (20:47.6). The Tigers’ other two runners were Avery Logan in 230th (21:14.5) and Kierra Ryan in 237th (21:22.5).
“I am so proud of all of the girls,” Larsen said. “Many people thought we would be down this year after graduating three of our top seven from last year. ... There have been some ups and downs throughout the season with injuries. It wasn’t easy for the girls to accomplish what they have, but they pulled through like champs.
“Kaitlin Bayer had some ankle issues that were really frustrating for her. She kept a great attitude and worked through it and ran a season best at the state meet. Taylor Huntoon had an amazing breakout season with a PR at the state meet. She’s improved over two and a half minutes this season and stepped up in a huge way as our consistent No. 3 girl. Emily Grob and Jessica Adams are quiet and so hardworking. They never complain about any run or workout and just show up and get the job done. We will miss Jessica greatly next year. Avery Logan, one of our senior captains, had a great year, as well. She worked really hard this summer and stepped up when we needed her. She has a wonderful persona and great rapport with the rest of the team. Kierra Ryan is a ray of sunshine. She keeps the girls happy and positive and really stepped up the last half of the season when we needed her. And of course, Alexa Keiser, our other senior captain, came out with an eighth place finish in a stacked D1 field. That was simply awesome.”
“The girls are very happy about our performance because we had a lot of season-bests, and we all raced very smart,” Keiser said.
Ruiz placed 37th, and started the race with a 5:50 first-mile, placing her in the mid-20s. She finished her second mile in 11:55, still in the mid-20s. However, the junior had a time of 18:22, placing her outside the All-State positions.