Pine River boys second, girls third at final Highland Conference jamboree

LEROY — Beal City secured its hold on first place in both the boys and girls Highland Conference cross country races Wednesday, while the Evart and Pine River teams secured their own high finishes.

The final Highland Conference race was at Pine River’s muddy course with Beal City taking the boys race at 33 points, compared to 75 for Pine River, 83 for Manton and 95 for Evart.

Evart took second in the final boys standings.

In the girls race, Beal City was first with 28 points, followed by Manton with 48 and Pine River with 75.

Nick Pung of Beal City won the boys race at 17:32.14. Evart’s Santana Scott was second at 17:46.35. Also for Evart, Josh Woods was sixth at 18:57.44, Micah Wetters 14th at 19:48.28, Andrew Bengry 31st at 21:10.13 and Nick Niles 42nd at 22:25.66.

“It was OK,” Scott said, acknowledging that the muddy conditions had an impact. “I almost fell a couple of times.”

His times are coming down, Scott indicated.

“I’m hoping to get in the 16:30s. I have to work on my first and second mile,” he said.

Pine River was led by Ben Rigling, who was fourth at 18:49.68. Also for the Bucks, Derek Hartline was seventh at 19:04.05, Jordan Stone 15th at 19:52.71, Tony Moore 21st at 20:24.37 and Mark Geer 28th at 20:58.32.

“The weather was pretty much perfect,” Rigling said. “The course is wet so it slows you down. It’s the best place I’ve gotten in the conference this year. We haven’t had a meet in a week and a half so I was well rested. I was mentally prepared.”

Rigling is hoping to break 17 minutes.

“I have to push myself harder in races,” he said.

Emily Steffke of Beal City won the girls race at 21:19.57.

For the Bucks, Cheyanna Rizor was fifth at 22:13.53, Olivia Thompson was 12th at 23:19.19, Holly Bailor was 23rd at 25:19.12, Julia Lucas was 24th at 25:36.99 and Alyssa Geer 31st at 26:49.85.

“It was good, muddy but good,” Rizor said. “Our course is tough all the way around, especially the last hill at the end.”

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Pine River coach Ross Vrieze said. “Our time weren’t great because of the conditions but we finished second for the boys and I thought it’d be a tough battle with Manton.”

The Pine River boys and girls were both third in the final standings.

“I’m hoping I can make it to state,” Rizor said. “Our team has been doing pretty well. I have to get at least 20:30 or lower to make it to state.”

“I improved five places from my last conference meet,” she said. “I’m hoping to go to regionals and be in the top 30.”

Evart didn’t have enough runners to contend as a team, but Clairese Clark was 18th at 24:15.35, Mara VanOrder was 28th at 26:13.16, Brooklynn Elenbaas was 34th at 27:28.25 and Arianna Mooney was 38th at 28:03.74.

“Our kids looked strong,” Evart coach Kevin Mills said. “They battled through the muddy, slippery course. We’ll have to see how things come down to the scoring.”

This Saturday, Pine River and Evart will be at regionals.