Evart cross country runners celebrate championship week

KEEPING PACE: Evart senior Logan Hammer works on his pace in the Chippewa Hills Invitational. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)
KEEPING PACE: Evart senior Logan Hammer works on his pace in the Chippewa Hills Invitational. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)

EVART -- It was quite a week for the Evart Wildcats boys cross country team heading into the Division 4 regionals which are set for this Saturday at Allendale.

The Wildcats finished first in Division 4 Saturday at the Chippewa Hills Invitational.

In overall standings, David Zinger was fourth in 16:23.02, Logan Hammer sixth in 16:46.51, Max Hodges eighth in 17:06.7, Santana Scott 14th in 17:35.04, Zach Douglas 43rd in 18:56.12, Ryan Tuttle 51st in 19:13.95, Akira Inoue 68th in 19:38.82, Micah Wetters 70th in 19:39.82 and Clint Retter 126th in 22:30.1

“They’re starting to blossom to where they need to be for regionals,” said Evart coach Andy Eichelberger. “David Zinger is back to his self, that’s good. Santana Scott ran a really good race.”

For the girls, Evart was third among Division 4 teams.

Grace Hamilton was first among Division 4 runners in 21:13.22 while Mara VanOrder was 13th in 23:44.33, Clairese Clark 16th in 23:57.91, Taylor McLachlan 18th in 25:11.88, Kaitlyn Parsons 20th in 25:25.18 and Rachael Galley 26th in 27:46.46.

Earlier in the week, on Oct. 16, the Wildcats clinched their fourth straight Highland Conference title by winning the final jamboree with 33 points, followed by Beal City with 47.

That marks four straight cross country league titles for the Wildcat boys runners.

“Talent-wise, my team is about the same,” said Eichelberger. “I don’t want to take away from Beal City or Pine River boys who are both getting better. They’ll be a force to reckon with next year.”

Zinger was first at 17:34 while Hammer was third in 17:40, Hodges seventh in 18:34, Scott eighth in 18:54, Douglas 14th in 19:24, Ryan Tuttle 27th in 20:29 and Akira Inoue 29th in 20:47.

Hammer and Zinger will be graduating for next year. They’ve both been on all four league title-winning teams.

“I thought it was a pretty good day,” Eichelberger said. “The Marion course isn’t the fastest course in the world. It has a lot of turns and mild hills. The kids took the challenge well and did their best.”

The girls were sixth in the Highland meet. Hamilton was fifth in 22:00, Clark was 22nd in 24:42, VanOrder 29th in 25:32, Kaitlyn Parsons 30th in 25:34 and McLachlan 35th in 26:07.

“The girls have improved,” Eichelberger said. “The first Highland meet, they took seventh and took sixth on Tuesday. Their best finish was a fourth. overall they were fifth. Last year they were seventh. I was very pleased.

“On Saturday, they also ran better. Grace Hamilton had a very good race. Mara VanOrder had one of her better races. Clairise Clark has been nursing an injury but is kind of coming back. I think they’re ready for regionals now.”