2017-11-02 / Sports

Glen Lake boys snap 15-year state finals drought

Software snafu leads to letdown for St. Mary boys
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor


GLEN LAKE runners punched their ticket to the state finals by placing third at the Region 29 meet in Benzie County on Saturday. GLEN LAKE runners punched their ticket to the state finals by placing third at the Region 29 meet in Benzie County on Saturday. In some ways, the regional meet is a cross country coach’s nightmare. Unpredictable rosters, cold weather and good old-fashioned desperation have been known to put the “hypothetical” in “hypothetical score” in a hurry.

The only thing a coach can really expect at a regional, Glen Lake coach Ryan Schut said, is maximum effort from senior leaders — and Schut had two of them at Benzie on Saturday: Drake Parker and Noah Henderson.

“Anything can happen at the regional,” Schut said. “I told Drake and Noah to lead the way and let the freshmen follow. That’s kind of what happened.”

Parker placed eighth, Henderson took 10th and a pair of Glen Lake freshmen — 11th-place finisher Caleb Henderson and 12th-place finisher R-Jay Willey — followed suit as the team took third with 63 points and punched its ticket to the state finals for the first time since 2002. Bear-Lake Onekama won with 46 points; Walkerville was second with 57.

Parker’s appearance at the Division 4 meet will be his third. He qualified as an individual in 2015 and 2016.

“It’ll be nice to have his teammates with him this year,” Schut said.

The St. Mary boys finished with 82 points, missing the state-qualifying cut by one place in the standings.

A snafu in the timing software led the boys to believe they had qualified for states through a technicality, but the initial ruling was officially overturned by the MHSAA on Tuesday.

“The team ran a brilliant race Saturday,” coach Nick Papes said. “There truly were three complete teams ahead of us in the standings, though. Regardless of the outcome, these boys handled adversity with an unparalleled maturity. They will be faced with many more tests in their future. Some tests will be out of their control, but they are showing me they can handle anything life throws their way. They’ve made me a believer. I believe in this team. I believe in every single one of them. I believe they have earned something greater. And for that I am most proud."

Max Gorcyca, who paced the St. Mary pack with a seventh-place finish, will compete at Michigan International Speedway as an individual Saturday.

That unfortunately won’t be the case for 18th-place finisher Avery Kohler, the team’s only senior. That said, Kohler’s fall sports season isn’t over yet. He contributed to a 38-24 playoff win for the Suttons Bay football team on Saturday — just hours after competing in the regional cross country race.

Runners from three other Leelanau County schools were among the 96 regional finishers Saturday, including Suttons Bay junior Jayce Konopka.

Konopka crossed 20th in 18:41, hitting a personal record in the process.

Another junior, Zach Fortuna, led the way for Leland with a 32nd-place performance. Comets coach Kat Murphy said Fortuna was sick but still managed to register a season record, crossing in 19:09.

Thomas Chilton led The Leelanau School, finishing 62nd.

REGIONAL RESULTS

1. Bear Lake-Onekama 46
2. Walkerville 57
3. Glen Lake 63
4. St. Mary 82
5. Pentwater 134
6. Mason County Eastern 196
7. McBain NMC 208
8. Suttons Bay 215
9. Mesick 225
10. Leland 250

COUNTY MEDALISTS

7. Max Gorcyca (St. Mary) 17:27
8. Drake Parker (Glen Lake) 17:48
10. Noah Henderson (Glen Lake) 18:03
11. Caleb Henderson (Glen Lake) 18:04
12. R-Jay Willey (Glen Lake) 18:11

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