Local runners medal at Dowagiac Rock-n-Run

Published 1:30 pm Friday, October 15, 2021

DOWAGIAC — Eight local runners took home some hardware on a wet, chilly evening at the Rock-n-Run Invitational cross country meet at Dowagiac Middle School on Thursday.

Walker Barz (17:36.0, seventh), of Buchanan, and Aiden Krueger (18:25.6, 11th), of Niles, medaled for the boys, while Madeline Young (20:46.2, seventh), Emma Miller (21:19.1, 11th) and Eleanor Young (21:48.9, 18th), of Buchanan, while Kierstyn Thompson (21:34.6, 13th), Aubrey Jackson (21.40.0, 15th), Eva Shepherd (22.21.7, 20th) and Cassandra Shortman (22.30.1, 22nd), of Niles, medaled for the girls.

The Buchanan girls finished fourth as a team, while the Niles girls finished fifth.

“The last two races, the girls’ times have not been that good,” said Niles Coach Jami Roden. “Today was a turnaround. They’re back closer to their [personal records] for the season, so I was really happy with that.”

Niles boys Coach Tony Todd, whose team had four runners compete, said he thinks his team ran pretty well overall despite the wet, sometimes muddy conditions.

“The conditions are conditions,” he said. “It’s the same for everybody, so we can’t make any excuses. Time-wise, they all put in a great effort.”

Todd added he is looking forward to Krueger possibly eclipsing the 18-minute mark next Tuesday at the Wolverine Conference Championships or at regionals Oct. 30.

“He’s been progressing well,” Todd said. “He’s about 40 seconds faster than he was his freshman year, so we’re really happy with that. We’re hoping his time is going to keep dropping, and we’re hoping for big things from him at regionals.

“We’re trying to get him into the 17s. He’s really close.”

Roden said while she was not happy with the team’s fifth-place finish, she was pleased with the improvement and enjoyed the competition at Rock-n-Run event.

“We really like coming here,” Roden said. “We get to see St. Joseph and Lakeshore, and we’re not in that conference anymore. I like my girls running against those really solid teams and getting that competition because that’s what they are going to face at regionals.”

With five runners in the top 10 and seven medalists, Saint Joseph cruised to a team win. Senior Riley Mullen (19:54.1) and freshman Elena Figueroa (19:55.8) were first and second for the Bears.

Berrien Springs won the boys team event, with five runners placing in the top 20. Saint Joseph was a close second, with seven medalists. Race Bettich (16.00.1) of Lakeshore won the boys individual race by over a minute.

Dowagiac and Cassopolis were unable to field a team in either the boys or girls races.

Cassopolis’ Lauren Anderson was 17th with a time of 21:42, while Jaren Waldschmidt finished 32nd with a time of 20:02.

The Chieftains were led by Owen Saylor in the boys race as he finished 49th with a time of 21:03. Faith Green finished 81st for Dowagiac with a time of 27:54.