Evart’s cross country team eyes another league, regional title

EVART – Evart’s cross country team is gearing up for what it hopes will be another productive season.

The Wildcats boys will be defending their Highland Conference title, led by seniors David Zinger and Logan Hammer and juniors Max Hodges and Ryan Tuttle.

Junior Grace Hamilton will be among the top Evart girl runners returning along with seniors Taylor McLachlan and Katie Parsons.

Newcomers include junior Zach Douglas for the boys and freshman Santanna Scott for the girls. Scott was a banner runner for the Evart middle school team as an eighth grader.

The season opens Saturday at the Benzie Central Invitational.

Evart finished fifth in the Division 4 state finals last season. Zinger was third overall in 16:06.6, followed by Hodges, who was 10th in 16:47.9 and Hammer, who was 11th in 16:49. Newton was 96th in 18:35.5.

Graduating seniors include Antonio Militello, who was 58th at the state finals and Brian Flachs who was 118th.

Evart last week came back from a running camp. With most of his top runners back, Evart coach Andy Eichelberger wouldn’t be surprised if Wildcat cross country has another big season.

“We’ll be strong, they’re hoping to win the regional again,” he said. “The girls are looking to improve in the Highland Conference and finish in the top three.”

In the league, Eichelberger expects Beal City’s boys and girls teams to both be strong again.“The boys are hoping to repeat as conference and regional champs,” said Eichelberger. “This year, we’re running regionals in Allendale. It’s usually in Benzie.”

Eichelberger also has high hopes for freshman Mara VanOrder.

“She’s looking to be in my top three pretty early,” he said.