Running for a reason: Kiaunis points to banner 2023 season

Reed City junior played key role in team's championship success

Anthony Kiaunis has had three strong seasons of cross country for Reed City.

Anthony Kiaunis has had three strong seasons of cross country for Reed City.

John Raffel

REED CITY – Anthony Kiaunis’ return for another season of Reed City cross country in 2023 is among the several reasons coach Rich Saladin and his Coyotes are extremely confident of a higher than sixth-place finish state, which they notched in 2022.

Kiaunis helped the Coyotes to their first regional trip in 38 years. Ironically, late in the season, he was quietly noting he could be doing better, but yet it was quite a season for the Reed City junior.

At the state meet, Kiaunis place 84th.

“This is Anthony's third time at state,” Saladin said. “He has a best time of 17:22 from last year where he placed 66th. Anthony has been outstanding all year beginning with a PR time of 16:47 at Chip Hills in August. He has 11 top 10 finishes including four second-places. He was first team All-Conference and was a team captain for the second year.

“Anthony is a hard worker. He is consistently good. Leading the team to a conference championship was a big goal. He's been working through some issues the last two races but still performed and persevered. He's a tough kid and runs with his heart.”

Kiaunis notched another PR at the second meet of the season with a 16:44.9 in the Pete Moss Invitational at Benzie Central.

“I actually got off to a great start but it was downhill from there,” Kiaunis said. “I really had a good race at Manistee (second place on Oct. 13 at 17:26.7).”

There were various other factors which Kiaunis feels may have led to various challenges.

“I was in gym class a lot and I’m doing weight training right now so I feel that’s put a little bit of strain on my body,” Kiaunis said. “Overall from the team aspect, it went great. We had a great team atmosphere. Everyone seems to come ready to race and ready to run and run fast.”

As a runner, “I’m good at being with the pack,” he said.

The season ended earlier this month at the state finals and Kiaunis will now focus on track. Cross country is his favorite.

“The elements are out there and I like the team atmosphere,” he said.