Bear Lake boys, Brethren’s Alexis Tracy compete in state finals

BROOKLYN, Mich. — The cross country season came to a close with the state final meet held at the Michigan International Speedway Saturday. The Bear Lake boys team placed 24th out of 27 teams, finishing with 532 points. Saugatuck won the Division 4 state title with 62 points and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart took second with 102.

Bear Lake’s Luca Leffew (589) runs during the state finals Saturday. Luca took 118th with a time of 19:18.4 and helped the Lakers take 24th place. (Robert Myers/Pioneer News Network)

Bear Lake’s Luca Leffew (589) runs during the state finals Saturday. Luca took 118th with a time of 19:18.4 and helped the Lakers take 24th place. (Robert Myers/Pioneer News Network)

“We kind of tried to peak for that regional meet to ensure we had an opportunity to go down to the state meet,” said Bear Lake coach Tony Shrum. “For these guys, I think that the big accomplishment for the year was getting an opportunity to get down there and race.

“We weren’t fighting for a state title or anything like that,” he continued. “With the young crew that we have, it was a great experience for them to get down and see it and race there — for four of the seven — for the first time.”

Sophomore Hunter Bentley paced the Lakers with a time of 18:22.0, good for 63rd overall. Jarrett Buckner (71st, 18:34.6), Luca Leffew (118th, 19:18.4), Sam Corey (127th, 19:25.3) and Trevor Eisenlohr (153rd, 20:07.2) also scored for Bear Lake.

“I thought it was a really great way to cap off the season for our top three,” Shrum said. “For Hunter to finish up a really strong sophomore season and for Jared and Luca to finish up a career, unfortunately.

“Those are two guys we’re really going to miss as leaders and just as teammates to all these guys,” he continued. “It was a great way to send them off and give them an opportunity at one last race at the state finals.”

Jake Griffis and Tai Babinec also ran for the Lakers, finishing with non-scoring times of 20:16.2 and 20:18.7, respectively.

“Any time you get a chance to go down there and race it’s really motivating — especially for next year,” Shrum said. “You see where you’re at and you look at what the other teams have that are around you — what they’re losing as far as seniors go and what they bring back.

“A lot of things can happen between now and then and I think our guys are poised to make some big improvements, especially our young guys,” he continued. “We’re a pretty sophomore-dominant team right now so the next couple of years should be pretty bright with that group we’ve got coming back.”

Brethren sophomore Alexis Tracy had qualified individually and finished with a time of 22:54.3 in her second trip to the state finals, good for 135th place.

“(She did) all right considering,” said Brethren coach Kyle Griffin. “She had allergies all week and then we had a long week on top of that. We got her home (Saturday) night and she was running a fever. She slept for 11 or 12 hours so I think she ran with the flu.”

The young Bobcat started off fairly strong until her illness started to hamper her efforts.

“She was looking strong for the first two, two and a half miles,” Griffin said. “Just kind of nestled right in at 80th and getting ready to make her move. And then she threw up and then passed a few girls. And then she threw up. And then she passed a few girls. And then she threw up. And then she passed a few girls. And then she threw up one last time.”

As a freshman last year Tracy finished 83rd in the state finals with a time of 21:41.8 and Griffin believes she could have placed in the top 50 Saturday had she been in top form. Griffin was proud of the grit and determination Tracy demonstrated.

“Every single time that she stopped to throw up, she turned around to pass five to 10 girls,” Griffin said. “She was out there and the first time she hurled she wasn’t quitting that race. She was going to finish and she wasn’t going to slow down. She wasn’t going to let anything get in her way.”

Griffin believes Tracy will use Saturday’s tough meet to motivate her going forward.

“She’s not going to be happy with this for a while,” Griffin said. “But I couldn’t have been more proud of the effort that she showed. She wasn’t going to quit. She wasn’t going to slow down even though her body was telling her she needed to.”

Manistee Catholic Central’s Henry Hybza — who runs on Mason County Eastern’s co-op team — ran a 19:10.2, good for 110th overall.

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