Wirth leads Reed City runners

Brandon Wirth (far left)
Brandon Wirth (far left)

BENZONIA — Led by senior Brandon Wirth’s first-place overall finish, the Reed City Coyote boys’ cross country team placed second out of 17 teams in the White Division at the Pete Moss Invitational at Benzie Central High School on Saturday.

Swapping leads throughout the race with McBain’s Keegan O’Malley and Montague’s Cole Jensen, Wirth sprinted away from both in the last 30 meters to win by 1.1 seconds with a time of 16:32. Junior Calvin Rohde placed sixth (17:05) and fellow juniors Noah Blythe and Jared Karns finished 17th (18:27) and 38th (19:14). Senior captain Ryan Simmons finished out the scoring for the Coyotes in 19:52 in 54th place out of 174 runners. The boys’ team totaled 102 points to finish second to McBain with 56 points.

“This was a great test for Brandon and for all of our runners. There is some really great competition at this race including some state qualifying teams from last year. Brandon has had an incredible week, winning the local Spectrum Health 5k last Saturday, winning the Chip Hills invite on Tuesday and now taking first here,” said Coach Rich Saladin. “The team trophy is a big accomplishment for our program. Everyone had a part in it and it was a team effort. The kids push each other in practice and they expect a lot out of each other.”

For the girls’ race, the Coyotes placed seventh out of 15 teams. Freshmen Paige Lofquist led the Coyotes (22:07) in 17th. She was followed by junior Taylor Harrison (22:13, 19th). Both girls earned medals by finishing in the top 40. Leigha Johnson (24:32), Abigaile Johnson (24:54), and Mackenzie Vandawater (26:01) finished out the scoring for the Coyotes.

“Paige and Taylor did a great job of pushing each other in practice this week, and then pushing each other on the course today,” Saladin said. “It’s great to see their hard work rewarded. Leigha, Abby, and Mackenzie are all veteran runners and did a nice job. They are all ahead of pace from last year and we’ll continue to see better results. It was a little wet out there with the rain but the cool temps were nice. We are excited to show off these well-earned medals and trophies.”

The Coyotes had multiple runners set personal records on Saturday including Blythe, Karns, Lofquist, Gavin Throop (23:59), Nathan Huss (24:41), Kellen Haney (24:56), Joe Robinson (30:09), Bryce Glasgow (30:11), Hannah Kaverman (26:21), Sydney Himes (26:58), and Taylor Hilliard (27:17).

The Coyotes will run next on Wednesday at the Clare Invitational at Mid-Michigan Community College.

Evart Wildcats

Evart was fifth at Benzie for the boys small school division on Saturday. For Evart, Austin Hamilton was fourth (16:35.9), Nathan Woods fifth (16:47.7), Richard Foster 39th (19:17.9), Tanner Ryan (19:38.2) 48th and Kinkaide Dubreuil 84h (20:45.6).

The girls were 15th. Sophia Scott was 46th (24:09.1), Laina Payne 60th (24:57.7) and Rilee Clark (27:27.4).

Pine River Bucks

Pine River’s boys were ninth at Benzie on Saturday. Jayce Methner (19:09.1) was 35th, Kei Deguchi 62nd (20:06.5), Kaden Darrow 73rd (20:24.6), Wyatt Underhill 78th (20:34.6), and Landyn Cool 79th (20:36.9).

The girls were 12th out of 15 teams. Kelsi Charles was 25th (22:51.3), Payton Fulmerhouser 39th (23:21.6) and Abby Dennis was 79th (26:52.80).