cross country regionals: Saline girls' perfect outing highlights myriad state qualifying performances
On a day full of standout performances by the area’s cross country teams at regional meets, the Saline High School girls stood above the rest on Saturday.
The Hornets proved worthy of their top state ranking distinction on Saturday, winning its tenth consecutive Division 1 regional title and qualifying for next weekend’s state finals at Michigan International Speedway by taking the top five places at Lake Erie Metropark.
The Hornets’ score of 15 points is the best regional performance in program history. The previous best of 19 points came in 2009 when Saline went on to win the state championship.
The Hornets took the top five spots to finish with the best possible score of 15 points.
Sophomore Elianna Shwayder took first place with Alyssa Cummings, Lauren Green, Abby Rentschler and Amy Creutz finishing in second, third, fourth and fifth.
It was also a successful day at Lake Erie Metropark for the Milan girls team, which took second place in the Division 2 race and qualified for next week’s state championships. The top three teams qualify as do runners who place in the top 15 individually. Tess Odegard finished in fifth place and Chabrielle Gollman finished in 12th for the Big Reds.
Father Gabriel Richard qualified as a team after winning the Division 3 race at Lake Erie Metropark while Manchester fell one place short finishing in fourth but will send one runner, freshman Alia Benedict who took third place.
Elsewhere in Division 1, Dexter qualified as a team after finishing second at Willow Metropark in New Boston. Qualifying as individuals by placing in the top 15, were Huron’s Alexandria Cell (2nd, 19:32), Pioneer’s Rosanna Neuhausler (5th, 19:48) and Skyline’s Lauren Halpern (11th, 19:52).
It was Dexter’s depth that allowed them to place as a team, with only one top ten runner (Elise Dombkowski, 7th), but with four of its other runners finishing in the top 25.
“We knew it was a talented region and we were going to have to run really well as a team to qualify. It was a really exciting race that came down to the last 200 yards, I’m really proud of how our team ran today,” said Dexter coach Katie Jazwinski.
In Division 2, the Chelsea girls qualified as a team after winning its regional at Ella Sharp Park in Jackson. Chelsea freshman Maegen Hopkins (5th, 19:22.5) and senior Danielle Dahl (6th, 19:24.4) both ran career best times to lead the Bulldogs to victory.
Jessi Battaglia (12th, 19:51), Elaine Johnson (13th,19:59), and Kennedy Aldrich (31st, 21:14) also ran career bests for the Bulldogs.
"The girls just ran super today. They all peaked at exactly the right time. They have overcome a lot of injuries and sickness this season so it was especially rewarding to see them run so well. I am very proud of them all," said coach Pat Clarke.
A mere five points separated the top three teams at the Division 1 regional race in New Boston on Saturday with Dexter’s 54 points besting Pioneer (57) and Pinckney (59)
It was Pioneer’s first year in the region and it gave Dexter coach Takashi Gould an opportunity to coach against his high school coach Don Sleeman.
“It was incredibly exciting, having the top teams separated by so a small margin, every little bit counts,” said Gould.
Pioneer’s duo of Costa Willets and Galen Burrell took second and third place, respectively.
“We ran really, really, well today going in we knew it was going to be close. Costa and Galen are great combo for us,” said Sleeman.
Dexter senior Matt Greve was Dexter’s top finisher with a time of 16:27 to take sixth place. Huron’s Jacob Higle-Ralbovsky.
The Saline boys team won the Division 1 race at Lake Erie Metropark, its fourth consecutive title. The messy conditions of the course provided an opportunity for the team according to coach Carl Spina.
"We got some key things done, got to focus on the mental aspect of the sport," he said.
Nick Renberg won the race with a time of 17:03.45.
Milan qualified for the Division 2 finals by taking second place in the Division 2 race at Lake Erie Metropark. Nathan Anderson and Ike Fink finished three and four in the race. In the Division 3 race at the park, Matt Kemner was Manchester’s lone qualifier after finishing in 12th place.
In the Division 2 race at Ella Sharp Park in Jackson the Chelsea boys team took second place behind the top-ranked team in the state, Mason. The Bulldogs finished with 55 points, Mason took first with 26 points. Chelsea’s top finisher was Bryce Bradley, who took second place with a time of 15:55.2.
In the Division 4 race in New Boston, Greenhills’ Ashwin Fujii took first place and qualified as an individual, but the Gryphons fell one place shy of making it as a team in fourth.
“We’re really proud of Ashwin, he’s been running really well for us all season and it’s a credit to him when he is out there running his own race,” said Greenhills coach Jim Hare.