Cross country meet changes up format

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A pack of Dowagiac cross country runners leave the starting line of the Wolverine Conference tri-meet Tuesday. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

A pack of Dowagiac cross country runners leave the starting line of the Wolverine Conference tri-meet Tuesday. (Leader photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

It wasn’t the traditional cross country meet Tuesday at Dowagiac Middle School.

Instead of running separately, the boys and girls ran together in the Wolverine Conference tri-meet between Dowagiac, Coloma and Paw Paw.

Dowagiac first-year coach Rob Lowe explained why there was a different format.

“We’re three smaller teams in the conference and instead of running 20 people at 5 o’clock and 20 people at 5:30 we decided to run all 40 or 45 of us at 5:15 to give everybody a chance to warm-up and just to have some people out on the course working together,” said Lowe. “It just makes a lot more sense that way. It’s nicer for smaller teams like us to have more people out on the (starting) line and more people going out. Obviously, when you get some of the larger teams, like Three Rivers and Otsego it’s harder to have everybody compete together.”

In the boys competition, Paw Paw beat Dowagiac, 19-40, and Coloma beat Dowagiac, 19-40. In the other dual meet, Coloma edged Paw Paw, 27-28.

In the girls competition, Paw Paw beat Dowagiac, 21-34, and Coloma beat Dowagiac, 24-33. Paw Paw edged Coloma, 26-29, in the other dual meet.

Dowagiac’s DeYonte Sullivan finished fourth overall and fourth among the boys with a time of 19:55 in temperatures in the high 60’s.

“It makes you run faster,” said Sullivan about running with the girls. “You don’t want a girl to beat you, but the girls train just as hard as us and if they beat you, you have to repect that.

“This was beautiful running weather. I couldn’t complain about it.”

Sullivan feels he’s on the right track with his times as the season progresses.

“I did under 20 and that was my goal for today,” Sullivan said. “We went to MSU last Friday and I was under 20. My goal now is to just stay under 20 and keep dropping my 19’s.”

The top Dowagiac girl was Charlotte Sievers, who’s a foreign exhange student from Germany. She finished sixth among the girls with a time of 26:19. Teammate Jennifer Schaus placed seventh with a time of 26:20.

“It really doesn’t make a difference,” said Sievers about running with the boys. “You’d expect the boys to be out in front.

“I think I did pretty good today. I just need to keep practicing and improve my conditioning.”

Lowe likes the direction his team is headed in.

“We’re still working to take steps forward,” Lowe said. “We had a harsh beginning to the season as we lost a number of runners. But I’m really starting to see some improvement. At Michigan State (last Friday), all five of my boys actually had lifetime best races and five of the six girls had lifetime best races. Everybody really took a step forward at that race.

“Those who raced today on the boys and girls side, actually, in my estimation, took a step forward and ran very similar times (to Michigan State). We’re just trying to improve and take it one step at a time. When you’re really trying to replace some of your top people with sophomores and freshmen it just takes time to learn how to run faster.”