Second place at state: Evart runners have big day
BROOKLYN – Evart celebrated a second-place team finish and also the No. 2 runner in the state to highlight area accomplishments at the state cross country meet on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
David Zinger fired in at second place individually in 15:52.8 as his team took second with 100 points behind Concord, which had 61.
It was his last race as a senior and Zinger was happy with his performance.
“It’s a pretty good way to go out,” Zinger said. “We thought we’d get top four. We had no idea.”
It was almost an hour after the race, when all the points were totaled that Evart realized it had taken second place, ahead of Pewamo-Westphalia, which had 117.
“This is the best we’ve ever done,” said Evart coach Andy Eichelberger, in his 13th year of coaching. “They tied for first place at team track (state finals) last year. Now it’s runner-up for cross country.”
For team scoring, Max Hodges was seventh in 16:21.1, Logan Hammer 12th in 16:30.5, Santana Scott 22nd in 16:54.1, Zach Douglas 57th in 17:41.9 Ryan Tuttle was 77th in 18:07.3 and Akira Inoue 149th in 19:30.1
With all runners combined, Zinger was second while Hodges was ninth, Hammer 19th, Scott 36th and Douglas 97th.
“That was (Zinger’s) best of the year,” Eichelberger said. “He ran a good smart race. He’s a senior and has been three four times. For David, it was a good cap on his career. It really was.”
Most of the runners attained personal records, Eichelberger said.
Eichelberger saluted his No. 4 and 5 runners for helping the Wildcats get the necessary points for a high finish.
“They were probably the most improved,” he said. “They ran smart. Having Santana Scott run his time, He had never run a 16 before. That was impressive. Zach improved a lot; having four and five stepping up really helped us.”
“We have a good cross country program,” Hodges, a junior said. “We lose David and Logan. Hopefully, we’ll get some new runners.”
Coming into the season, Eichelberger had an inkling this team could do something special.
“Way back in August, it was a matter of getting the fourth, fifth and sixth man to improve,” he said. “I knew we had a shot.”
The threesome of Hammer-Hodges-Zinger challenged for the top spot most of the year with Zinger asserting himself as the top runner at the state meet.
“We had 17 meets this year so you’re not going to run a good race every meet,” Eichelberger said. “So by having three top guys, somebody stepped up every meet.”
Eichelberger noted that Zinger started running his best in October.
“We got him on a better diet,” Eichelberger said. “I think that helped.”
Hammer and Zinger graduate after four solid seasons.
“We went with them as freshmen (to the state meet),” Eichelberger said. “Then Hodges came the following year.”
Grace Hamilton ran for the Evart girls and was 54th in 20:47.6 for her first year at state.
“I went out fast, like I should of,” she said. “I passed people the whole race.”
A strong start was a key in her race, Hamilton said.
“I went out faster than I have been so I didn’t get boxed in,” Hamilton said. “The weather was beautiful. It was a little cold.
“I had a great season,” she said. “I had a lot of fun with my team.”