Dowagiac freshman Shawn Little helps Otsego runners get back on course before rallying to beat them by a second

Published 1:51 pm Thursday, September 29, 2016

The defending state champions and the state runner-up invaded Dowagiac for a Wolverine Conference meet at the Dowagiac Middle School Tuesday.

The Otsego girls cross country team captured the state title last year and proved that it is a serious contender for the title again this year.

The Bulldogs had every one of their runners cross the finish line before the first Dowagiac runner came in as they defeated the Chieftains 15-50.

The Otsego boys team are the defending state runners-up.

The defeated Dowagiac 21-39.

“They are the real deal,” Dowagiac coach Dan VandenHeede said.

Dowagiac’s Shawn Little, just a freshman, rallied over the final stretch of the boys race to edge Otsego’s Will Finch by a seconds to win the race.

Little ran a time of 16:58, while Finch came home with a 16:59.

Dowagiac had to reroute its course due to some logging going on in the woods.

Apparently, several of the Otsego runners started to go the wrong way and Little called out to them that they had missed the turn, waited for them and then resumed the race.

“The top Otsego boys ran as a pack, allowing Shawn to hang with them for the first two-plus miles,” VandenHeede said. “When they came out of the woods he had fallen back some, but then did something that truly shows his character and sportsmanship. The Otsego pack went straight when they should have turned. Instead of allowing them to continue on and possibly be disqualified, Shawn stopped, yelled ahead to them to come back and make the turn and then waited for them to get ahead of him again before running again himself.”

In the final half-mile, Little sprinted ahead of the Bulldog pack and finished for the win.

A complete box score is available online at