Fuller shooting for D3 state title; Chips aim for top 10

Manistee’s Ashley Lindeman has a shot at finishing All-State as a freshman. (Matt Wenzel/News Advocate)

Manistee qualified teams for the state finals for the first time in program history.

Now it’s up to the Chippewas to do something about it.

“I’ve got to get them to realize the season isn’t done yet,” said Manistee coach Eric Thuemmel. “We’ve got unfinished business.”

The Chippewas will run in the Division 3 state finals today at Michigan International Speedway. Although it will be a new experience for 12 of the 14 runners, there are some big goals packed in.

Sophomore Annie Fuller carries the best Division 3 time (17:42) into today’s finals and is coming off a regional title last week after beating Charlevoix’s Amber Way, who has the second-best time in the state (17:47).

“There’s a big target on her back,” Thuemmel said of Fuller. “She wanted to make sure she had to do as little to win as possible last week. She didn’t want to overdo it, wasn’t going for any records or anything. This is the week she’s going to put it all out there.”

Fuller took 11th last year to finish All-State (top 30) and expects to be more relaxed today.

“I feel like it’s not going to be as nerve-wracking as before,” she said. “I was kind of really nervous (last year) with how big it was and how hyped up it was. I think I’m going to be a lot more comfortable with the setting.”

Fuller, who won a state title in the 800-meter run as a freshman in track, could give Manistee back-to-back individual state titles in cross country to follow 2012 graduate Kelly Schubert.

“I didn’t really have that great of a race last year, I thought I would do better,” Fuller said. “This year, I’m ranked first, so I kind of hope to win.”

Senior Jarret Deisch and freshman Ashley Lindeman both have a shot at being named All-State. Deisch is Manistee’s most experienced runner and, like Fuller, is in the only in his group who’s run at MIS.

“It’s uncharted territory for most of the kids,” Thuemmel said. “Annie and Jarret have the experience and can tell the guys what to expect.”

MIS, with its 100,000-plus seats surrounding the track, can be intimidating.

“I’ve heard people say it’s overwhelming with the amount of people,” said senior Courtney Stefanski, “and the first mile I guess is kind of scary.”

Neither Manistee team is ranked in the top 10, though it’s possible for the Chippewas to place there, which is a goal.

“I don’t want to have a bad day,” Thuemmel said. “I want them to go out on a bang, I want to see how many of us can improve from last week to this week.”

With their performance last weekend, the Chippewas made school history. Thuemmel is hoping to see his team close the season in a way that sets up a tradition for the program.

“It’s a big deal,” he said. “This is something we haven’t seen before. I’m real proud of the kids and it was a lot of work.”

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