BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Runners are heading to Michigan International Speedway this Saturday after qualifying at the MHSAA Division 1 Cross Country Regional races.
The Lady Wolves dominated Algonac High School as they finished first at the Region 9 race with 60 points.
“The team probably had their best performance of the year,” said Coach Kevin Breen. “It was from our top varsity runners through the back end of our JV. We are coming together as a team. We have been working hard all season and we have had hiccups – kids get sick or have nagging injuries all season. It wasn’t until the last two weeks we have been able to run a full healthy squad.”
Mia Patria led the girls as she finished in fifth place setting a new school record for top ten finishes at 18:20.5. Mallory Ferguson also set a school record for top ten finishes with the time of 18:31 for seventh place.
“Mia had her best race of the season and really showed what she is capable of,” said Breen.
Elizabeth Dalrymple finished in ninth at 18:55; Shannon Billette, 18th, 18:55; Emily Ferguson, 21st, 19:41; Grace Nolan, 33rd, 20:03; and Emily Gustafson, 45th, 20:23.
Breen added there were a lot of great performances but three stuck out – Patria, Mallory Ferguson and Maddie Drennan.
“Mia has really been our top runner for the last couple of weeks. She has really come on strong and is starting to look a little bit more like a leader. She is captain material for the future,” he said. “Maddie, who we thought would be on our varsity team all year, had some hiccups early on in the season. She won the open race the other day.”
Lake Orion finished in second place, 72 points, and Stoney Creek finished in third, 118, to join the Lady Wolves at states.
The Clarkston Boys Cross Country team finished in second place qualifying for the state championship with 78 points.
“I was pretty pleased because going in we were fighting for third place finish,” said Coach Larry Adams. “Moving up to second was above expectations. We had not beaten Oxford all year and we hadn’t raced Stoney Creek because we don’t see them much. To be able to beat both was exciting.”
Brendan Favazza led the pack, finishing in seventh place with a personal record at 15:51.
Shawn Slater finished in tenth place, 15:56.5; Nathan Sesti, 12th, 16:04; sophomore Christian Collis, 21st, 16:31; Mark Sprague, 28th, 16:41; Jeremy Cavallo, 56th, 17:13; and Ben Allen, 72nd, 17:33. Slater, Collis, Sprague, Cavallo and Allen also had their personal bests.
“Six out of seven had personal bests – that was nice,” said Adams. “We prepared the right way and they challenged themselves. The last mile they ran tough.”
He added three performances stood out for him with Collis, Sprague and Favazza.
“Christian beat personal best by 20 seconds and Mark beat his by 25 seconds. Being our last two scorers that really made the difference for second place,” he said. “Brendan running a personal best and breaking 16 for the first time was a big deal for him. He likes to run up front and he has proven he can do that. The drop in time was a big deal.”
Romeo finished as regional champions with 49 points. Stoney Creek finished third, 98 to qualify for the state championship.
Clarkston heads to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn to compete in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 race. Tickets are $8 per person.
“We are looking forward to the state meet and see if we can maintain it one more week,” Adams said. “With a young group we want to make sure they can get excited and fired up to run two weeks in a row at their best.”
He added the boys finished in 15th place last year and this year the goal is to be in the top ten.
BY WENDI REARDON PRICE