Cross country teams start this week
REED CITY — Cross country teams are gearing up for action this week with the ultimate goal being to secure a berth in the November state finals.
Brad Smith returns for his second season with the Reed City squad.
For the boys, Joe Oehrli leads the way after winning the regionals at Benzie a year ago and finishing all-state in 30th place.
Drake Walker is a sophomore and returning runner who is high on Smith’s list. Matt McGahey is a freshman, who was a strong runner in middle school and “should be a good addition to our team,” Smith said.
For the firsts, Smith has three seniors who are first-year runners. Emily McIntosh “has shown solid performances in practice,” Smith said, adding that “Amanda Steig has had success in other sports (softball and basketball) and is hoping for a good season.”
Smith added that Lindsey Ridderman is also a successful athlete eyeing success in cross country.
Smith is looking to have full rosters for both boys and girls to field a full team.
“We’re hoping to keep Joe healthy and improve on his times over last season,” Smith said. “We’re shooting for a top 5 finish at the state meet for Joe.”
Reed City runs at the Benzie Central Invitational on Saturday.
State qualifiers David Zinger and Logan Hammer for the boys and Katelynn VanMourik for the girls return to coach Andy Eichelberger’s lineup this season.
Evart was in Division 3 last year for the state meet and will be in Division 4 this season. The Wildcats will also go for their third straight Highland Conference title.
VanMourik was 70th at the state finals as a junior.
Zinger, a junior, finished sixth at state last season. Antonio Milittelo, 54th at the state meet, returns as a senior. Max Hodges is back for his sophomore season. Alex Newton returns as a junior. Hammer is also a junior. The boys team was 15th last season.
Evart runs at the Benzie Central Invitational on Saturday.
Ross Vrieze is back for another season as coach. He has 11 boys and 10 girls for the Bucks.
For the boys, a transfer from Cadillac, Trevor Holmes, leads the way. Caleb Elkins is back for the Bucks as a junior. Ben Rigling is on the squad as a freshman.
For the girls, Devyn Powell returns for her sophomore season after going to the state finals last year. Jasmine Huback is back for her sophomore season but is battling injuries right now.
“At this point, it’s early to tell,” Vrieze said. “A lot of the girls are out to get in shape. We’ll see how that comes about. We might pick up some volleyball players that get cut from the varsity.”
Pine River runs Saturday at Benzie Central.