The morning chill did not deter the Thornapple Kellogg girls and boys cross country teams from decorating the team bus to head across the mitten to the Division 2 State Meet, on Saturday, November 5th.
âIt was a pretty electric morning with the excitement in the air,â Coach Sam Wilkinson observed, âUsually they donât have this much energy in the morning, but it was fun to see.â
Being in a large meet was not a new experience for the girls, but it was still something they had to prepare mentally for.
âHaving been at the Portage Invitational earlier this year prepared the girls pretty well for competing with such a mass start. With over 200 athletes itâs important to get out fairly quickly, but to also keep your cool, and I thought they handled that quite well,â noted Wilkinson.
Otsego ruled the day, and four of the six teams from the OK Gold Conference were all in the top 15, with TK, not too far behind, placing 19th of 29 teams.
âWe faced much of the competition that we had all year, with most of the teams in our conference on hand. It was interesting to see how we all stacked up against the rest in the state,â noted Wilkinson.
Freshman sensation, Audrey Meyering (20:13) led the team with a person record, with senior leader, Rachael Gorton (20:56) not too far behind.
âAudrey had a great race,â Wilkinson said, âand by her place (49th), it would be difficult to tell that she was only 40 seconds from being All-State (top 30 earn All-State honors), but there were an awful lot of people in a small amount of space.â
âRachaelâs second half was fantastic. She ran really smart. She passed a significant amount of people and finished really strong,â Wilkinson noted, âIt was a great way to finish out her high school cross country career. Kiley Hilton (21:52), also a senior, had a similar kind of race and had a strong finish as well. She made up a lot of ground in the last mile.â
Keeping the pack mentality going, there was a fairly tight group consisting of junior, Alli Matison (21:03), junior Lauren Lutz (21:21), sophomore Sarah Possett (21:23), and freshman Elizabeth Meyeing (21:30).
âOnce again, the girls were pretty close together, with less than two minutes of separation between them.â
The season has now come to a close, and Wilkinson is optimistic about the future.
âWe finished 19th, but I think we will continue to climb the latter. Certainly we will miss our seniors, but weâve got girls already knocking on the door to join the top seven, and ready to contribute positively.â