Brother and sister reach impressive heights same day, in different races

BIG RAPIDS — It was an eventful day on Nov. 7 for cross country runners Logan Hammer, and his younger sister, Madison.

Logan, a former runner at Evart, is a junior at Ferris State University and placed 25th in the NCAA Division II regional in Evansville, Ind., Saturday, clocking a 31:43.29. FSU was 11th with 272 points.

“We were hoping to place a little better than we did,” Hammer said. “I placed 25th, which is the last place in order to be all region. I was hoping to run a little bit faster than I did. Overall, I’m happy with the performance.”

The performance wasn’t enough to get Hammer in the national meet, but going to that level will be a goal next season along with finishing in the top 10 in the region.

“Our region is actually the deepest region in the nation for Division II,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to get out.”

Hammer said he “improved a lot” from last year.

“Going from last year’s regionals to this year, I was 40 seconds faster,” he said. “There’s been a big jump as far as physical ability. Mentally as a runner, I’ve made a huge jump as well.

“I’ve been transitioning from having a fairly old team when I first came in and now we have a team primarily made up of freshmen and sophomores. I’ve gone from being the young guy to being one of the mentors,” he said.

Hammer also runs indoor and outdoor track for the Bulldogs.

His sister, Madison, is a freshman runner at Big Rapids and placed 28th (19:05.8) over the 3.1-mile course at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday for Division 2 all-state honors.

“I was proud of my sister,” Hammer said. “Going from a Division 4 (Evart) to a Division 2 school was a big jump for her. Sometimes you jump into that higher competition bracket and you’re not sure what’s going to happen. She handled it very well.

“Every time I would do a 5K road race, Madison usually ran it as well. She’s been going at it ever since she was little. So seeing her grow and following in her brother’s footsteps is very touching.”

“Back in August, I could see she was a very confident girl and had the drive to succeed in cross country,” Big Rapids coach Chase Gibson said. “At the beginning of the season, she was in the 22s or 21s. Her heart and love for running will help her to develop.

“To run low 19s to the state was special to see. We’ll try to get her to get it down to the 18:40s next year.”

The Big Rapids girls, making their first appearance in the state final since 2002, were 16th with Hammer as the top runner.

“I was proud of myself and the team for pushing,” Hammer said. “We did really good. I think I ran the best I could have. It was a good start.”

The competition was the most challenging part of the state finals, Hammer said.

“You just have to keep your head up,” she added. “I think I pushed myself the whole season, no matter what race it was.”