Laker boys takes first, moves on to state finals

TOP: Gary McBride (259), Kaiden Hejl (256) and Trey Gilbert (255) set the pace during Saturday’s Division 4 Regional Final. Those three runners led Bear Lake to a regional title. (Robert Myers/ Pioneer sports Network)

TOP: Gary McBride (259), Kaiden Hejl (256) and Trey Gilbert (255) set the pace during Saturday’s Division 4 Regional Final. Those three runners led Bear Lake to a regional title. (Robert Myers/ Pioneer sports Network)

BENZONIA — Bear Lake cross country can add another trophy to the shelf after the boys won a Division 4 regional title Saturday at Benzie Central High School.

The Lakers ran away from the competition with the boys finishing in first with a team score of 46. Walkerville was the second team with a 57.

Meanwhile, the girls will also be joining their teammates next week at the state finals after finishing in third place with a team score of 66, behind Lake Leelanau St. Mary’s in first with a 46.

“The times were great across the board,” Bear Lake coach Tony Shrum said. “We had a couple of guys really step up with great races. On the girls’ side, all of our top five or six ran their best time of the season.”

Manistee had a Division 3 regional at the same time and place. The Chippewa boys finished ninth with a 252, and the girls were seventh with a 206. Hart won both races with a 56 on the boys’ side and a 30 for the girls.

Manistee’s Noelle Fink and Brethren’s Alexis Tracy each qualified as individuals as well.

The Laker boys were led by Gary McBride and Kaiden Hejl up front again with second and third place finishes in the race at 18:55.58 and 18:55.84, respectively. Trey Gilbert finished fifth overall at 17:20.26, freshman Hunter Bentley followed him with a personal-best 18:32.71, which was good for 17th, and Luca Leffew rounded out the scoring in 24th at 18:53.95.

“He (Bentley) PR’d by about 40 seconds. He’s a talented kid. He’s incredibly motivated,” Shrum said. “For a freshman he has been a pleasure to coach because he just keeps getting better and better. He’s always asking questions.”

The girls were led by Elizabeth Belinsky in ninth at 21:14.77, Emilee MacPherson right behind her in 10th at 21:20.69 and Faith Corey in 11th at 21:22.72. Yuki Babinec and Hayley May rounded out scoring in 21st and 29th, respectively at 22:22.66 and 23:13.69.

“We had great races from our top three girls. Emilee and Elizabeth had their best times of the season by quite a bit, and for Faith it’s an all-time PR by almost a full minute. It just was a great race from her,” Shrum said. “The girls needed to have a great race to guarantee their spot in the state finals. Hayler May stepped up in fifth for us, and she had a PR by over 40 seconds yesterday.”

Brethren’s Alexis Tracy qualified as an individual after finishing eighth overall at 21:14.20. She will continue her season next week at the state finals. 

Taylor Cordes also finished 28th at 23:13.36 for the Bobcats.

“We did a lot of pace work, because we knew it would be a fast course. She ran well at Manistee and she was right up there. We were expecting her around 14 or 15, not 8. I can’t complain about that,” Brethren coach Kyle Griffin said.

Manistee’s one qualifier is Noelle Fink, but the rest of the team had a solid showing.

The boys were led by Elliot Kamaloski’s 17:03.46 for 22nd place, Ransom Hoeflinger was 41st at 18:14.03, Evan Bauman was 62nd at 19:06.49, Declan McCann was 63rd at 19:11.82 and Bishop Davis was 68th at 19:30.01.

“We’re only graduating one senior from the boys varsity team with Elliot. He ran a 17:03, and still finished in 22nd. If we would have been in Region 19, and he ran that last year, he would have finished sixth,” Manistee coach Andy Anderson said.

The the girls’ side, Fink was 14th at 19:29.01, and keeps her season going, Erin Dorn was 33rd at 21:16.24, Kendahl Wright was 42nd at 21:44.64, Taylor Murray was 58th at 22:55.91 and Olivia Holtgren was 59th at 23:00.91.

“It was a great day,” Anderson said. “I think we had 13 PR’s. All of our kids peaked at the right time. They had fun, even though it was freezing cold. It was a great day for the Chips.”

The state finals will begin on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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