Former local runners shine in Helsing Invitational

Hanna Brock leads Ferris women, Brandon Wirth paces men

BIG RAPIDS – Former Big Rapids Cardinals were in the spotlight as the Ferris State men's and women's cross country teams each took the top team scores home at the annual Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational on Saturday at Katke Golf Course on Sept. 10.

On the men's side, Ferris State dominated, finishing 46 points ahead of second place, grabbing each of the top six spots and 11 of the top 13.

Ferris State senior Brandon Wirth, who ran at Reed City, took home a first-place finish as the only runner under the 27-minute mark, clocking in at 26:53.83 in the men's 8,000 meters.

Right behind Wirth were FSU sophomore Brandon Cairney, seniors Dan Hardesty and Donis Harris, and sophomores Kevin Wilson and Nathan Alford, who finished second-sixth respectively for the Bulldogs.

“It was a pretty tough race, it was a hot one today,” Wirth said. “We all got out and had a great effort as a team. There’s something I have to work on the second half of the race. I’ll get back to work. All the upperclassmen and all the leadership wanted to hammer down and get together. We stayed in Big Rapids and put in lot of hard miles and hard work.”

He said he’s hoping to get around 25:30 at the Louisville race.

Hardesty, a senior and Big Rapids native was third in 27:18.30. Senior Casey Bouman and freshman Ryan Ososki, also former Big Rapids runners, were ninth and 11th respectively in 28:08.75 and 28:20.26.

It was Ososki’s first collegiate race.

“It’s definitely different than a 5K,” he said, of the longer distance. 

“Our kids had an opportunity to run against some good teams,” Ferris coach Jared Kelsh said. “A lot of our kids ran PRs. Hanna has really come along this last year. She’s been able to develop into one of our top runners. Brandon, a senior, puts in the work and that showed today.”

The Ferris State women narrowly edged out Northern Michigan by two points, earning third, fourth, and sixth-to-ninth place finishes.

Former Big Rapids runner and Ferris State sophomore Hanna Brock led the Bulldogs with a final of 19:15.58 in the women's 5,000 meters. Senior Sydney Kubiak finished just behind at 19:18.53. Of Ferris State's six top 10 finishers, five are sophomores or younger. Brock was third overall.

“I feel last year with COVID, everyone was getting quarantined and today for our first meet in awhile, we were all here and ready to race,” Brock said. “We wanted to get out there together as a team and group up. I think we did that. We had a lot of girls in the top 10. I personally was super stressed. It was our first race, especially that first mile. We went out super fast, which I’m not used to. And then I filled in toward the second and third mile and it went well.

“I am super proud of us right now. I feel good to have the first race out of the way. I was staying with Syd. This was a 5K and most of our races are 6K. I want to improve my 6K time.”

Two former Cardinals ran for Northern Michigan. Senior Meghan Langworthy ran 20:29. 21 for 14th  Her younger sister Kate, a freshman in her first official college race, clocked a 22:48.86 for 40th.

“I miss them so much,” Brock said of her two former BRHS teammates. “I wasn’t running against them, I was running with them.”

The men ran 8,000 meters and the women 5,000 meters.

“It was great to get back racing again,” Meghan Langworthy said. “It’s not a fast course, but not a slow course either. We want to get top four in conference. We have a tight team. The top two are way out there and the rest of us are tight and we’ll switch on and off.”

“For my first college race, I think it went pretty well,” Kate Langworthy said. “It’s good to be back and see former (teammates).”

When the women races go from 5K to 6K, “I have not done it yet,” Kate said. “It will be an adjustment.”

With Ferris State's annual season-opening home meet in the books, the Bulldogs are headed next for East Lansing where they'll run at the Michigan State Spartan Invite on Friday.