Evart cross country runners continue to shine

EVART —  Evart’s boys won the team race at the Lake City Invitational on Saturday with 19 points. Mesick was second at 58.

Evart took four of the first six spots and five of the first eight.

Max Hodges was first in 16:47.52, Santana Scott was second in 17:23.09, Zach Douglas fifth in 17:55.79, Josh Woods sixth in 18:03.45, Ryan Tuttle eighth in 18:31.68, Micah Wetters 11th in 19:12.51 and Andrew Bengry 19th in 20:10.06.

Evart’s girls were third behind Glen Lake with 54, McBain MNC with 62 and the Wildcats with 85.

For Evart, Grace Hamilton was second in 20:48.33, Clairese Clark eighth in 23;05.3, Brooke Belleville 19th in 25:21.21, Stevie Duey 34th in 28:49.29 and Rachel Galley 42nd in 36:07.39.

Meanwhile, a non-league cross country dual meet with Harrison on Sept. 24, was considered a warm-up of sorts for the Evart Wildcats at Spring Hill Camp.

But it was still a good day for both Wildcat teams with the boys taking a 15-50 victory and the Evart girls prevailing 22-33.

“We had good times today but they aren’t comparable to what they would be running at state,” said Evart coach Kevin Mills. “I had them do a hard mile before they ran the race today. From now until the conference meets and regionals we’re using these meets as workouts.”

The boys took the first five spots for Evart with Max Hodges at 18:24, Zach Douglass at 19:35, Josh Woods at 19:47, Santana Scott at 19:48 and Ryan Tuttle at 20:11. Micah Wetters of Evart was seventh at 21;20.

“We all tried hard,” Scott said. “I was running with Josh, pushing each other.”

“Today was a little bit of a easier day,” Woods said. “We did a hard day yesterday. I think I still did pretty good.”

It was Evart’s second time on its new home course.

“It’s very nice, very pretty. It’s good racing for us,” Scott said. “We have challenging hills and a few sand traps.”

“It’s a good course. I enjoy running hills and there’s some good ones in it,” Woods said.

Woods’ best time has been 17:51. He’s been  happy with the progress he’s made as a freshman.

“At the beginning of the year, I was hoping for 17:30 area,” Woods said. “Now I’m hoping for the low 17s.”

The key to a lower time, Woods indicated, is running a “good pace the first mile and speeding up my time so I can really push out the last mile and get a better time.”

Middle school runners go from 2.0 to 3.1 miles in high school. “It’s different to pace yourself,” Woods said. “When you’re used to finishing, you have to add an extra mile. My first few races were a little rough. But I’ve been getting used to the 3.1 miles.”

Evart had a Highland Conference jamboree on Tuesday.

“We’re still putting in a lot of mileage, still working hard,” Mills said. “We’re setting up to peak at state.”

His entire team is healthy, Mills noted.

“Everyone is healthy, working hard and is right where they need to be,” Mills said.

The Wildcats went one-two in the girls race with Grace Hamilton at 22:21 and Clairese Clark at 23:48.

“I don’t care for this course, I like the old one better,” Clark said. “This one is slow and sandy.”

Also for Evart, Brooke Belleville was fourth in 28:06, Stevie Duey fifth at 30:11 and Rachel Gally 10th at 36:47.