Big Rapids runners ready to run

Big Rapids cross country runners eye huge season.

BIG RAPIDS — Giselle Tauriainen makes her debut as cross country coach when the Big Rapids season starts Wednesday at Hesperia.

The boys last year were third in the regional meet and qualified for state. Big Rapids graduated first team All-CSAA all-conference runners Dan Hardesty and Logan Williams.

For the girls, Megan Langworthy was the CSAA individual champion and All-State finisher last season in 22nd. She is now running in college at Northern Michigan University. Hanna Brock was first team All-CSAA and Kate Langworthy, Megan’s sister, was CSAA honorable mention.

“We graduated three of our top seven varsity runners last year that were members of the state qualifying team that finished 13th at MIS with Logan Williams, Dan Hardesty and Casey Bouman,” Taurianen said. “We graduated four ladies last year, including state qualifier and all-state runner, Megan Langworthy, plus one of our top varsity runners, Madison Hammer.

“We have a solid group of boys coming together that are still young. Some of them had a taste of what the state meet is all about and they are eager to race at MIS (Michigan International Speedway) again in November. Senior Kaden Torres has put in a lot of miles this summer and has his heart fully invested in his running. He is going to be a fun one to watch this season. Archie Rush (junior), Matt Hardesty (junior), Ethan Fuller (sophomore), and Ryan Ososki (sophomore) have been running all summer and are ready to see some results.”

Tauriainen said newcomer Ben Knuth had a successful time at the middle school level and “is fitting in nicely with the varsity boys,” Tauriainen said. “He may be a wild card for our team this year.

“For the girls we are returning state qualifier Hanna Brock (senior) this season. In 2018 she narrowly missed all-state honors when she finished 35th at MIS. She is on the hunt for that top 30 finish this season. Kate Langworthy (sophomore) is a young firecracker for our team. She put it a lot of miles this summer and is a hard worker for us. She is hoping to punch her own ticket to the state meet this year.

“Destiny Weckesser (junior), Zoey Watters (junior), and Abby Saxton (junior) are all returning varsity runners. We have newcomers in sophomores Megan Knuth, Zoey Deam and Emily Seamen, who will all be likely contenders for our varsity squad. In addition, we have returning seniors Eve Hinkley and Valerie Vandertol bringing in some experience to our otherwise young team.”

For the boys, “we have the potential to qualify for the state meet again and place well within our conference this year,” Tauriainen said. “This season will be a matter of convincing these boys that they are capable of qualifying for state as a team, despite graduating multiple top athletes from last season.

“For the girls, we are hoping to qualify as many runners for the state meet as possible and place well within our conference. We will be working on closing the time gap within our top seven runners. Both sides have the potential to pack run and they are already pushing one another every day and have a positive attitude.”

Confidence is a huge factor for both teams, Tauriainen indicated.

“This season will be a matter of working with each other and taking risks out on the course,” she said. “On the girls side we will focus on shrinking the time gap between our third through seventh runners.”

For the CSAA boys, “Fremont is definitely a force to be reckoned with.” Tauriainen said. “They will be tough competition for any team in the conference. For the girls, Fremont, Reed City and Chippewa Hills will be tough teams. We are hoping for a top 3 team finish in the conference.”

 

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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