Davisburg — Tyler Buchanan has been the king of the cross country circuit the last two seasons, coming into the Metro League Cross Country Championship on Wednesday, Oct. 16 2019 as the two-time defending title holder.
By the time the event was over, the Linden senior made it three league championships.
Buchanan beat the field by almost 30 seconds at the event held at Springfield Oaks County Park en route to this third title. He finished the 3.1-mile race in wet, muddy and windy conditions in a time of 16:17.4. Lake Fenton’s Joseph Gilbert also had a strong showing, placing second with a time of 16:46.1.
Linden finished in second at the meet, placing second overall. Lake Fenton jumped to fourth at Wednesday’s meet while Holly placed fifth. The two squads finished the season tied for fourth.
In the women’s event, Linden placed third at the meet and third in the final standings. Lake Fenton took ninth at the meet and finished ninth overall. Holly was unable to field a complete women’s team.
Buchanan ended his Metro League cross country career with nine straight Metro League jamboree or event victories. He never was seriously threatened Wednesday.
“It means a lot,” Buchanan said. “For myself it shows that I’m really dedicated to the sport. I love the sport.
“There were a lot of muddy corners, and going down hills I had to slow myself up to make sure I wouldn’t slide. It was pretty messy out there.”
Linden’s boys had all of its top five finish within the top 27 places. The rest of Linden’s scoring five were River Meckstroth in sixth (16:53.8), Kyle Eberhard in 10th (17:15.0), Liam Sack in 19th (17:38.0) and Simon Dicks in 27th (18:04.7).
“I am very proud of our guys for meeting our goal to make a statement this year,” Linden varsity boys cross country coach Brad Ferrara said. “Finishing fourth last year was not entirely fun and we knew we had a team this year that could bounce back and make some type of statement. Placing two spots higher than last year was definitely our league goal this year, but we always kept our eye on Fenton. They had another great season and we love all the competition around us in the league.”
The Blue Devils made a nice move as did Gilbert. Gilbert was outside the top 10 early in the race, but by the end of it he moved forward and eventually took second by about four seconds with a time of 16:46.1.
“I really shocked myself today,” Gilbert said. “I went out a little hot today with Tyler and I was afraid of going too hot but I stuck with it. ... I told myself mentally that I wanted to get this and I had to stick with the pack. I stuck with them. Something happened and I had a great kick at the end, almost a second wind. It felt great.
“Going into the day I wanted to get top seven because I know if I got top seven I would’ve gotten first team, so that’s my goal.”
“I knew, with the type of competitor (Gilbert) is that he would probably move up a spot or two but I didn’t expect him to move up to second,”
Lake Fenton varsity cross country coach Chris Sobczak said. “He went into the woods in sixth and came out in second, and held on to it for the last 800 meters.”
The Blue Devils’ other scoring five runners were Brenden Schroeder in 13th (17:30.8), Colton Dietrich in 21st (17:46.4), Logan Whittecar in 31st (18:09.4) and Matt Fletcher in 33rd (18:12.3).
“We knew the FML was going to be tough and didn’t know how’d we stack up against the competition,” Sobczak said. “It was great to see the boys move up race after race. We were only four points out of third.”
Holly’s boys were led by Gabe Sanchez who took 12th in 17:23.7. The rest of Holly’s top five were Nolan Weisdorfer in 15th (17:34.3), Mason Rosa in 18th (17:37.5), Bradley Baxter in 32nd (18:10.2) and Roger Reppuhn in 47th (18:48.2).
In the women’s race, Holly didn’t have a complete team, but junior Andrea Ruiz still figured a way to place second. She posted a time of 19:36.6. Her sister, Monica Ruiz, took 32nd (22:15.1).
The Linden Eagles were a strong third, beating fourth-place Goodrich by 57 points.
Melanea Strauss placed eighth (20:29.8), followed by Zoe Brown in 11th (20:33.4), Hannah Wabel in 16th (20:58.4), Kathryn Walterhouse in 20th (21:09.5) and Shelby Holscher in 21st (21:15.3).
“The girls ran a great race,” Linden varsity girls cross country coach Benjamin Cox said. “I was probably more amped up during this race than I have been most of the season, but that is what championship racing is all about. We put our best foot forward and Fenton and Flushing answered back. They ran super well, too. Of course we always have our sights on those two schools, but I couldn’t be happier with our performance. This will provide us with some good momentum going into our regional meet next week.”
Lake Fenton’s girls were unable to put together a full team at the first jamboree, but were able to in each of the last two weeks. The Blue Devils’ scoring five were Claire Hunt in 22nd (21:21.9), Evelyn Riley in 46th (23:49.5), Salina Mueller in 47th (23:59.2), Estella Hufton in 60th (25:52.2) and Isabella Castro in 61st (26:21.0).
“It was a tough season for them this year because we have been dealing with a few injuries,” Sobczak said. “We had a few meets we couldn’t field a complete team.”