Lakers set sights on regional titles

Bear Lake’s John Michael Schoedel and the Lakers will run in a Division 4 regional today at Benzie Central. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

The recent warm weather was welcomed by many in the area, just not members of the Bear Lake cross country team.

So, the Lakers were pleased to see today’s temperature should be in the 40s, not the 70s, for the Division 4 regional at Benzie Central

“The weather is going to be good, not like what we’ve had,” Bear Lake coach Tony Shrum said Thursday. “We’re supposed to get back to more cross country-type weather this weekend, so they’re looking forward to that. They love running in the cold.”

It shows.

The Lakers, who typically send both the boys and girls to the state finals every year, have that same goal today. The top three teams and top 15 individuals advance to the state finals the following Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Advancing to the state finals is a primary goal for both teams, but they’d also like to earn some hardware along the way.

“Both the boys and girls set goals to win the regional meet and run to the best of their ability,” Shrum said.

In their last race, the Bear Lake girls beat No. 1 Harbor Springs at Manistee National. The Lakers are No. 4 in the state and looking forward to running against the Rams at MIS, but not looking past the race at Benzie, with No. 8 Traverse City St. Francis and Grand Traverse Academy representing the top competitors.

“It’s going to be an interesting state finals,” Shrum said. “It’s always in the back of your mind, but first thing’s first, there’s a regional meet (today) and we’re looking forward to that. The kids are excited. Benzie is a fast course so I’m expecting PRs across the board. I’m expecting them to put up some really good times and I think they’re ready to do it.”

The Bear Lake boys won back-to-back regional titles before taking third last year. Both the boys and girls lost their top runner to graduation and have relied on new leaders this season — Kenna Gilbert and John Girven.

“I’m looking for both of them to lead the charge,” Shrum said. “John has a chance to be a regional champion and that would really make his season thus far. It would be a big win for him. Keena is going to have a tough race with Holly Bullough from St. Francis, who is one of the top runners in the whole state.”

Brethren, which revived its program this season, will also compete in the regional. Freshman Josh Riggs is the lone boy, while senior Haley Tighe will lead the girls, to go with a trio of underclassmen.

“I told them just to really enjoy the day,” said Brethren coach Andy Robak. “It’s going to be a first time for everyone running in it. For the young people, I told them to absorb it all, take it all in so you know what to expect for next year and for my senior, I’m happy for her because this will be her last meet ever.”

Leave a Reply