2017-11-02 / Sports

Lady Eagles cruise to regional championship

Glen Lake, Leland duos to join Eagles at Division 4 meet
By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor


ABOVE: The St. Mary girls brought a trophy home from Benzie County on Saturday following a convincing first-place performance in the Region 29 meet. BELOW: Leland freshmen Emma Waskiewicz, left, and Twyla Walters medaled Saturday, becoming the first two Leland girls to qualify for the state finals. ABOVE: The St. Mary girls brought a trophy home from Benzie County on Saturday following a convincing first-place performance in the Region 29 meet. BELOW: Leland freshmen Emma Waskiewicz, left, and Twyla Walters medaled Saturday, becoming the first two Leland girls to qualify for the state finals. Nick Papes saw it coming.

Last year, his upstart St. Mary girls registered a third-place finish at the regional meet and ran in the Division 4 state finals at Michigan International Speedway as a result.

It turns out that was just the start.

“After last year’s pursuit to qualify, I could just see it in the way the girls started to realize what potential there is,” Papes said. “Going into the summer, returning every single runner, it was just the way they went about life. They started to take things seriously, bonded together and ran together. I’ve never seen such maturity, especially in such a small area. … They trained for 30 weeks together discretely — they didn’t tell me how much they were running — but that’s the mentality you want in a program. It’s infectious.”

Hanna Grant led a group of three top-seven St. Mary finishers at the regional meet in Benzie on Saturday as the Lady Eagles ran away in first place with 46 points. Lexi Schaub, Ciara Glynn, Mary MacDonald, Grace McKillip and Nicole Wittman placed fourth, seventh, 20th, 23rd and 24th, respectively, in a field of 52 runners.

Frankfort and Bear-Lake Onekama also qualified for the state meet with 64 and 66 points, respectively.

“I’m at a loss for words at how proud I am of the entire program,” said Papes, who will coach his Lady Eagles and boys qualifier Max Gorcyca Saturday. “We are by far the smallest school at regionals. I’m only drawing from a school of 50 kids and finding 18 that are committed to cross country. That speaks to the character of the program. I wouldn’t want any other team.”

The fourth-place Glen Lake girls missed the cut with 98 points but finished with two individual qualifiers.

Allie Bonzelet, a senior, led the Lady Lakers in 13th place, and sophomore Karrigan LaCross finished 15th. Only the top 15 finishers earn a spot at states — and LaCross was well aware. She placed 16th as a freshman, missing the cut by less than four-tenths of a second.

“Karrigan, of course, had to make things interesting,” Glen Lake coach Ryan Schut said. “She bounced around between 18, 19 and 20 the entire race. Every time I saw her I said, ‘Karrigan, you’ve got to move up.’

“Even at the 2-mile, she was in 18th. After last year, sitting at 16th place, I really wanted her to get in there. She moved from 20th to 16th within the last 800 meters and passed the 15th-place girl within the last 400 meters.”

LaCross crossed three-tenths of a second after 14th-place finisher Emma Waskiewicz, one of two Leland freshmen set to compete in the state finals this weekend. The other is Twyla Walters, who raised some eyebrows with a sixth-place showing.

Leland coach Kat Murphy said her finalists are the first in the six-year history of the cross country program.

“We’ve been so close so many times,” Murphy said. “I was expecting these two to be right there, and they did it. Twyla ran right in that sixth position most of the race. She’s a very smart, controlled racer and paces like a machine. She can hold her mile pace exactly through two miles, and usually only drops a few seconds in the last 1.1.

“Emma moved around a little between the 10th and 13th positions and, coming into the final stretch, she was in 13th. She lost one place in the sprint to (Bonzelet) and fought it out with (LaCross) for the 14th spot, which made it really exciting — a little too exciting for me.”

The lone competitor for Suttons Bay was senior Amelia Hall, who closed out her cross country career in 47th place. Hall’s time, 25:51, was more than five minutes faster than her season-opening performance at Glen Lake.

REGIONAL RESULTS

1. St. Mary 46
2. Frankfort 64
3. Bear Lake-Onekama 66
4. Glen Lake 98
5. Mason County Eastern 110
6. Leland 112

COUNTY MEDALISTS

1. Hanna Grant (St. Mary) 18:39
4. Lexi Schaub (St. Mary) 20:05
6. Twyla Walters (Leland) 21:05
7. Ciara Glynn (St. Mary) 21:13
13. Allie Bonzelet (Glen Lake) 21:41
14. Emma Waskiewicz (Leland) 21:44
15. Karrigan LaCross (Glen Lake) 21:44

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