2016-11-03 / Sports

St. Mary girls headed to Division 4 state final

Three Lakers qualify
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


ST. MARY cross country runners gather for a post-race photo after qualifying for the state meet as a team. Pictured from left (back row) are Grace Mckillip, Alexandra Kirt, Lexi Schaub, Nicole Wittman, Mary MacDonald, (front row) Hanna Grant, Ciara Glynn and Breanna Weber. Photo: Erica Kirt ST. MARY cross country runners gather for a post-race photo after qualifying for the state meet as a team. Pictured from left (back row) are Grace Mckillip, Alexandra Kirt, Lexi Schaub, Nicole Wittman, Mary MacDonald, (front row) Hanna Grant, Ciara Glynn and Breanna Weber. Photo: Erica Kirt St. Mary cross country coach Nick Papes refers to his girls program as a “sisterhood” for a reason.

“I’m not coaching a team,” Papes said. “I’m coaching a family, and that’s what echoes the most in my mind when we talk about St. Mary cross country.”

Birds of a feather flock together — and Papes’ family of Lady Eagles plans to travel south to Michigan International Speedway this weekend.

Five top-30 finishers led the way for St. Mary at the regional race in Benzie on Saturday as the Lady Eagles punched the third and final ticket to the state finals with a third-place finish.


GLEN LAKE runners (from left) Noah Henderson, Sunny Charpentier and Drake Parker qualified for the state meet individually with top-15 finishes in Saturday’s race at Benzie Central. 
Photo: Jenny Parker GLEN LAKE runners (from left) Noah Henderson, Sunny Charpentier and Drake Parker qualified for the state meet individually with top-15 finishes in Saturday’s race at Benzie Central. Photo: Jenny Parker The team finished behind Manton (50 points) and runner-up Bear Lake (59) with 77 points, outpacing Glen Lake by 20. Suttons Bay took seventh as a team with 178 points.

“The expectations to be competitive at the regional are tough,” Papes said, referring to enrollment at St. Mary. “No one expects you to produce results. Even though it’s a third-place finish at regionals, it’s like a championship.”

Hanna Grant turned in a championship effort, overcoming cramps early in the race before crossing third individually (20:08) in a field of 60 girls.

Ciara Glynn, who will be one of three eighth-graders competing at the state meet, finished seventh (21:06); junior Lexi Schaub crossed 17th (21:31); Mary MacDonald took 22nd (22:09) and Nicole Wittman placed 30th (22:45).

“The girls really looked out for each other all year and they capitalized,” Papes said. “At one point in the race, I was looking at the uniforms around them and I saw a lot of orange. They were running with the Manton team.

“It was fun to watch.”

Glen Lake senior Sunny Charpentier will join the St. Mary girls Saturday after placing sixth individually (21:02).

Lakers coach Ryan Schut said Charpentier exceeded expectations and put together an amazing race.

“She was in the top 10 the entire time — confident, strong — and just really earned her spot,” Schut said. “She deserves this spot after four years of cross country and a lot of work. I’m excited beyond words for her. She’s such a great kid and a hard worker.”

On the boys side, Manton took home top honors as a team (27 points) in front of Bear Lake (28), Frankfort (104), St. Mary (120), Glen Lake (123), Marian (162), Brethren (189) and Suttons Bay (191), respectively.

Rounding out the list of Leelanau County state qualifiers were a pair of Glen Lake boys, juniors Drake Parker and Noah Henderson. Parker placed 12th overall (17:35) in the field of 62; Henderson was 15th (18:00).

“These three kids are the most deserving of this accomplishment — the three hardest workers that I have,” Schut said. “I’m so glad to bring them.”

While the St. Mary girls and trio of Glen Lake runners head to Brooklyn on Saturday, other county runners outside of the top 15 will have to wait until next year.

Such was the case for Glen Lake freshman Karrigan LaCross, who missed the cut by 0.39 seconds in 16th place. Officials reviewed the finish per Schut’s request, but the call stood.

“No coach wants to leave regionals with a 16th-place runner,” Schut said. “It’s the worst as a coach and an athlete to walk away No. 16. Karrigan had a great race and bounced around the 13th, 14th and 15th position the whole race. ... It just gives her more motivation for next year, to come back that much stronger.”

Leland sophomore Zachary Fortuna finished with a similar fate after crossing just 8.13 seconds behind Henderson.

Comets coach Kat Murphy said the race was awesome and heartbreaking.

“He just didn’t have the kick to catch Noah, but ran a really great race with more heart than I could have asked for,” Murphy said. “He is our closest to date for a state qualifier, and as a sophomore, has a great chance next year.”

Other top-30 finishes on the boys side came from St. Mary junior Avery Kohler in 19th place (18:34), St. Mary senior Ryan Popp in 24th place (19:03), Glen Lake sophomore Christian Barber in 26th place (19:15), St. Mary freshman Nathan Smith in 27th place (19:18) and St. Mary freshman Cameron Tarsa in 30th place (19:27).

Other top-30 finishes on the girls side came from Suttons Bay senior Shantel Francis in 23rd place (22:11) and Glen Lake junior Jennifer LaCross in 26th (22:23).

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