The tri-county area has been a hotbed for quality cross country runners for a couple of decades now.
Teams consistently qualify for the state meet with individuals earning All-State honors. Many also leave their prep programs to become runners at a variety of collegiate programs. All one has to do is look at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) schools and one can recognize the area’s success.
Many area graduates recently competed in the GLIAC Championships and/or the Division 2 Regional Championships.
At the GLIAC meet held at Saginaw Valley State University, the area had two All-GLIAC performers. Fenton graduate and Grand Valley State University runner Jacob Lee placed ninth in the men’s 8K race, earning First-Team All-GLIAC honors. He posted a time of 25:32.6. The Grand Valley men also won the conference title. Meanwhile, fellow Fenton graduate Alexa Keiser earned Second-Team ALL-GLIAC honors. She placed 12th in the 6K women’s event with a time of 23:05.5. The top 10 in each race earned first-team honors while the next 10 earned second-team status. The Saginaw Valley State women placed second.
They weren’t the only area runners to compete in the races. In the men’s race, Lake Fenton graduates and Saginaw Valley State University runners Thomas Hufton and Eric Niestroy competed. Hufton placed 29th in 26:45.4, while Niestroy was 65th 928:17.4). Saginaw Valley State’s men placed fourth. Linden graduate Melanea Strauss also competed in the women’s race, earning 61st for Ferris State University with a time of 25:04.8. Ferris State’s women placed seventh.
Four of the runners also competed in the D2 Midwest Regional. Grand Valley’s men won the regional title and Lee placed 10th for the squad, running a 10K time of 30:40.5. Hufton ran his first 10K race at the collegiate level, posting a 38th-place time of 21:55.4.
In the women’s regional, Keiser helped the Saginaw Valley State women place fourth, by taking 28th in the 6K race with a time of 21:43.5. Ferris State placed 19th as a team and Strauss placed 134th with a time of 23:47.6.
Plenty of other tri-county runners also compete on the GLIAC teams as well. They include Tanner Blaney, Tyler Buchanan and Mitchell Chabot for the Wayne State University men; Sam Deardorf and Nate Fraser for the men’s Saginaw Valley State program; Eric Somsky for the Lake Superior State University men’s program and Jessica Jablonski and Jenna Keiser for the Saginaw Valley State University women’s team.