‘Buck Hill’ helps Buchanan girls best Bridgman in BCS cross country meet

Published 1:19 pm Wednesday, September 29, 2021

BUCHANAN — The Buchanan girls cross country team sneaked past Bridgman by the slimmest of margins Tuesday night.

The host Bucks edged the Bees by one point, tallying 32 points to win the Berrien-Cass-St. Joseph League jamboree at McCoy Creek Park.

Bridgman placed second with 33 points, and Berrien Springs finished third with 82, and Brandywine fourth with 94.

According to Buchanan Coach Kristin Baker, the Bucks received help against the Bees in the form of a steep hill on the course known as “Buck Hill.”

“We trained hard to be ready on our hills,” Baker said. “We spent a lot of time training in the park on what we call ‘Buck Hill.’ We had a long conversation about it. [Buck Hill] is our best friend, and the only way we were going to beat Bridgman today is by using that hill.”

Buchanan freshman Madeline Young was the difference-maker for the Bucks, taking first place with a personal best time of 21:09. Emma Miller (22:12) and Eleanor Young (22:27) placed fourth and fifth overall, and Sydney Greaves (23:31) and Joy Kaltenbach (24:21) finished 10th and 12th to round out the scoring for the Bucks.

Brandywine senior Allison Lauri led the Bobcats with a sixth-place time of 22:36.

Young, who was battling Bridgman senior Arie Hackett for first place, said Buck Hill allowed her to create separation from Hackett that she was able to maintain.

“We’ve practiced on [Buck Hill] a lot,” she said. “We used it to our advantage today.”

“[Madeline Young] set the tone for us,” Baker said. “When she hit the hill the first time, her and [Hackett] were neck and neck. On that hill, she pulled ahead.”

Much like golf courses, cross country courses can play a significant role in a team’s success in a competition.

“We’ve been fortunate to be on two hilly courses so far, at Brandywine and then here,” Baker said. “Bridgman beat us twice early in the season on flat courses. Our last race is on a flat course, so we need to switch up our training to be ready. [Bridgman] is a bit faster on their feet than we are. We’re a little bit stronger.”

After a slow start to the season by her standards, Madeline Young is rounding into form as the Division 3 regional meet approaches.

“At the beginning of the season, my time wasn’t that good,” she said. “I’ve been getting my time down with each race.”

For Madeline Young and the Buchanan girls team, winning the league and regional are among the team’s goals for the season.

“We just have to keep working,” she said. “We’re hoping to win our conference championship. We’re just going to keep pressing hard.”

“There’s still one conference race to go,” Baker said. “The conference champion is determined by the average of the three races. [Bridgman] still has us in the regional by about 10 points, so that’s where we’re focused.”

On the boy’s side, Walker Barz battled a leg injury throughout the race and was able to finish sixth overall with a time of 18:37. Freshman Coy Weinberg placed 13th and notched a personal-best time of 19:50 and Ryan Young finished 19th with a time of 21:26.

For Brandywine, Ethan Ohara (23:37), Jacob Rydwelski (24:49) and Mason Young (24:52) placed 26th, 27th and 28th, respectively.

“[Barz] has been battling injuries this season but still had a good race,” Baker said. “He was proud to be running at home and worked really hard today. Coy made a big step today by breaking 20 minutes. He’s in a position to potentially make second team all-conference as a freshman.”