Cross country coaches reflect on seasons

REED CITY — The cross country season ended last month, but that doesn’t mean the running stops.

Athletes will be focusing on other sports or concentrating on getting in miles as they prepare for track seasons or next fall’s cross country campaign.

Coach Brad Smith had a full girls team at Reed City while Brett Walker and Brandon Wirth performed for the boys and was happy with the progress they made. Joelyn Gamble-Brown led the way for the Reed City girls along with McKenzie Cornelius, Catherine Kettner and Lindsey Kienitz.

“There’s a few runners coming up (from the junior high) that I hope stick it out,” Smith said, acknowledging that it’s a guessing game of sorts to predict numbers for each fall.

Pine River coach Ross Vrieze had a young team for both boys and girls.

“It was definitely a rebuilding year since we lost a lot of seniors,” Vrieze said. “It was neat to see kids improve their times. There were a couple of kids that this was their first season. They wanted to appreciate the sport of running. It was neat to have them as a part of the team.

“Leadership opportunities arose. Some kids stepped up and took charge. That was encouraging to see them develop those life skills.”

Derek Hartline, a senior, was the top boys runner. Others will return in 2016. All the girls except Alysa Geer will return next season, including Olivia Thompson.

Evart recently announced its awards for the 2015 cross country season. State champion Santana Scott and all-stater Josh Woods, led the boys team. Clairese Smith was most valuable performer, Kim Wilson was most improved for the girls, while Mara VanOrder received the Wildcat award and Arianna Mooney got the grit award.

Andrew Bengry won the Wildcat award and Nathan Woods took the grit award.