Evart fifth at state finals
BROOKLYN — It wasn’t exactly the type of finish the Evart Wildcats were looking for in Saturday’s Division 4 cross country finals at Michigan International Speedway.
Evart had hopes of taking first place but finished far behind Concord, which posted 64 points. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart was second with 99, North Muskegon third with 131 and Potterville fourth with 165. Evart had 192 for fifth.
David Zinger, who had hopes of winning the meet, was third in 16:06.6. Max Hodges was 7th in 16:47.9 and Logan Hammer 18th in 16:49. Evart’s lone senior in its top five, Antonio Militello, was 58th in 17:42.7 and Ryan Newton 96th in 18:35.5. Sophomore Ryan Tuttle and senior Brian Flachs were 103rd and 118th in 18:43.5 and 19:01.4.
All three Evart all-staters were hoping for higher individual finishes.
“I feel as if I let the team down,” Zinger said. “I feel I should have had first. I was in first for the first half-mile. At the mile, the first-place guy got caught back up. They’re both good runners. It was a bad day (for me), I guess.”
Zinger said finishing third did provide him with some satisfaction.
“But I wanted first,” he said. “I’ll come back next year, I guess.”
Hammer was also hoping to finish higher. It was his third appearance at the finals and Hodges’ second.
“That was my best time of all three times I’ve been here,” Hammer said. “The weather didn’t cooperate. It was windy and the mud was really deep. It was mush out there.
“It was just a bad day for everyone, I think,” Hodges said. “It might have something to do with the weather, I’m not sure.”
He was off about 15 to 20 seconds from his personal best, Hodges said.
“I think my finish was my best part,” he said. “I had a kick at the end.”
Hammer said he improved a minute from a year ago.
“We were ranked third coming in,” said Evart coach Andy Eichelberger. “That’s the best the school has done in cross country, fifth place at state. It’s hard to get athletes running their best at the same time.”
Looking ahead to next season, “we have a chance,” Hammer said.
“Right now, Alex Newton is stepping it up,” Hammer said. “We need one more.”
“We were hoping to pull out first today,” Zinger said. “Fifth is disappointing for us, but it’s better than what we’ve done in the past. With some training, you never know what could happen. It will be interesting next year.”
Evart’s only girl runner at the state finals, Katelyne VanMourik, was 12th in 19:36.6 for all-state honors.
The top 30 runners in each class earned all-state honors.
Last year at the finals, VanMourik was in the 70s.
“I caught seven people at the end,” she said. “I think I did really good. I got a new PR.”
It helped having been to the state finals last year, VanMourik noticed.
“I knew it was going to be a fast course. I pushed myself all the way,” she said. “It was good weather for running. It was muddy at the end.”
“Katelyn ran very well,” said Eichelberger. “I”m happy for her.”
VanMourik graduates but most of the other runners return, Eichelberger noted.
Joe Oehrli of Reed City finished 16th for all-state honors with a 16:21.2 in Division 3.
“I felt like I could have finished higher,” Oehrli said, adding that if he had to run the race again, he might work on a faster first mile.
Oehrli finished 30th a year ago. He caught some runners at the end of the race to get 16th.
“He did very well overall from last year,” said Reed City coach Brad Smith. “We were hoping for a top 10 finish. Overall, he had a good day.”
This was Oehrli’s fifth cross country season and he indicated he might pursue a college career in the sport. Right now, he’s focusing on track.
Trevor Holmes of Pine River, a junior, was 50th in 16:59.6.
“At first, he was kind of disappointed with that,” said Bucks coach Ross Vrieze. “He was ranked 32nd. His time was decent. It was the only time he was under 17 minutes.”
Holmes, as a junior, returns next season.
“He’ll have a good shot at all-state (top 30),” Vrieze said.