Grass Lake girls’ cross country achieves rare feat in Cascades conference double meet
The Grass Lake Women’s Cross Country Team accomplished something that only one other program has done in the past 20 years in Jackson County.
The Warriors placed five top-eight runners in Tuesday’s doubles match against Hanover-Horton and Michigan Center to score 21 points and topple the Comets (43 points) and Cardinals (57 points).
It was the first time since 2015 that Hanover-Horton was defeated in a double meeting of the Cascades Conference. Napoleon’s women’s cross-country team is the only other program in the past 20 years to have beaten the Comets, when they recorded double-competition wins in 2014 and 2015.
Senior All-State runner Kailee Sandoval took the top honors with a time of 19 minutes and 29 seconds, while first-year teammate Ava Viegelahn was second at 21:38. Junior Isabel Spencer was fourth at 9:52 pm, while sophomore Madison Basham was sixth at 10:25 pm and runner-up Ella Kraus was eighth at 10:33 pm.
“It was huge,” said Grass Lake head coach Jennifer Taylor. “For these girls to get started early in the season and prove that they are capable of beating a team like Hanover, which has generally been the best team in our conference most seasons, is a huge boost for them. Now we can aim for the end of the season and this conference championship come together and try to take that.
“I hope that if everything goes the way we would like, we can come out of this region with a qualifying spot and take these girls to the state final.”
Taylor credits the pack mentality of some of the program’s young runners as one of the main reasons the Warriors found themselves able to win the league on Tuesday. After that, it was the inspired determination of a freshman that turned the tide of the event.
“Our second, third, fourth and fifth runners were able to come together very tightly and help each other to finish the race strong,” said Taylor. “They know that as they run together the better they will score as a team, so they really help push each other to the finish line. I thought they did it exceptionally well today. ‘hui, then we had a few really come girls with superstar performances and help us get ahead of Hanover in the final standings.
“Ava kind of got self-sufficient tonight. She was really, really nervous before the race and put a lot of pressure and a lot of weight on her shoulders. She took this a bit personally and was really worried that if she failed she would have let the whole team down. Seeing her come in as the second runner and beat the first runner from Hanover was great to watch. She found the strength and power to come out of it today and I’m really proud of her efforts. “
Sophia Reynolds was third overall with a time of 21:37 to lead Hanover-Horton, while Sydney Fazekas was seventh at 22:26, Alexis Flint was 10th at 22:59, Kelly Fielder was 11th at 23 : 11 and Isabella Berry was 12th at 11:19 pm.
Lizzie William placed fifth overall at 9:54 pm to lead Michigan Center, while Lillian Wittman was ninth at 10:43 pm, Kate Patterson was 13th at 11:51 pm, Anna Reynolds was 14th at 24:01 and Jersey Franks was 16th at 25:01.
Hanover-Horton will be back in action at Ella Sharp Park on Saturday as part of the Jackson Area Invitational, while Grass Lake and Michigan Center travel to the Whitmore Lake Invitational on Saturday.
For the full results from Tuesday’s meet, including the boys’ results, Click here
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