CROSS COUNTRY: Milford, Seaholm defend Oakland County titles
BY DAN STICKRADT
MILFORD TWP. — Brian Kettle understands the tradition of Milford’s cross country program. He is now a big part of it.
A junior, Kettle won the individual title Saturday in helping the top-ranked Mavericks win the prestigious 52nd Annual Oakland County Championships at Kensington Metropark.
“There’s a lot of legacy to live up to, the others that have come before me,” said Kettle, a junior who was second last season. “We have such agreat tradition and we work hard to keep it going.”
Kettle pulled away from a tight pack in the final mile over the picturesque 3.1-mile course to win in 15:46, becoming one of nine runners to ever break 16 minutes at the county meet since the event was moved from Marshbank Park to Kensington Metropark in 1996.
Milford landed six of its seven runners in the top 30 to reach the medals stand. Cody Snavely, last year’s champion, was third, while Chris Housel (10th), Matt Lorrades (14th), Jesse Field (15th) and Clinton Caddell (21st) all medaled for Milford.
“We always preach, program, program, program,” offered Bryan Saylers, Milford’s head coach since 1996. “We have a lot of history and such tradition. Our girls have won 10 titles over the years which is more than anybody, and now this is our 10th title with the boys, which is more than anybody. We have a great tradition at Milford and each year we add to that.”
Meanwhile, Birmingham Seaholm won its second straight girls title, sending all seven runners inside the top 30 with 47 points — both which are rare and difficult feats.
Clarkston was second with 138 points, while Milford (!43), Mott (164), Troy (220), Oxford (270), Lake Orion (270), Bloomfield Hills Lahser (270), Rochester Adams (287) and White Lake Lakeland (339) rounded out the top 10 in the girls standings.
“Last year was much more stressful,” offered Seaholm coach Jeff Devantier.
A year ago, Seaholm learned, due to a scoring glitch, that it had won the title by one point over Oxford after it was originally reported that the Wildcats won the title.
“This year I felt like we had a real good chance at winning,” said Devantier. “I am thrilled with our performance. I look back at all of those great Clarkston teams (a decade ago) and how they were able to have seven runners inside the top 30 and score under 50 points. It doesn’t happen very often. We’re in elite company. I’m proud of the girls for their effort because they all ran hard.”
Audrey Belf (fourth), Aubrey Wilberding (eighth), Tess Wilberding (10th), Rachel Diadamio (11th), Danielle Bentzley (14th), Julia Demko (17th) and Patty Giradot (26th) all finished in the top 30 for the Maples.
West Bloomfield’s Erin Finn also joined some elite company, winning her third straight county crown. Finn was clocked at18:18 with one of top five fastest efforts on the course. She became the first three-straight winner since Adams’ Katie Boyles won four straight from 1997-2000.
“It’s a great honor to be able to win three straight county titles,” said Finn. “I know of all the great runners that have run here in the past and it’s a great accomplishment to be able to win this prestigious meet three times.”
Lahser’s Elana Miller claimed second ((18:30), followed by Oxford’s Brook Kovacic (18:39), Seaholm’s Belf (18:48), Adams’ Jamie Morrissey (18:53), Rochester’s Jessica Goethals (18:58), Lahser’s Alana O’Meara (19:00), Seaholm’s Aubrey Wilberding (19:03), Clarkston’s Nicole Hanson (19:08) and Seaholm’s Tess Wilberding (19:10) all raced into the top 10.
In the boys race, Mott was second 175 points, while Lake Orion (194), Novi Detroit Catholic Central (220), Rochester Adams (268), Bloomfield Hills Lahser (273), Walled Lake Northern (278), Birmingham Seaholm (346), White Lake Lakeland (353) and Troy (369) rounded out the top 10.
Mott’s Nathan Burnand was second (15:57) in the individual race, followed by Milford’s Snavely (15:58), Lake Orion’s TJ Carey (16:07), Royal Oak’s Ben Hill (16:24), Adams’ Stephen Biebelhausen (16:26), Walled Lake Northern’s Devin Chamberlin (16:30), Mott’s Sam Albaugh (16:31), Royal Oak’s Max Benoit (16:32) and Milford’s Housel (16:32) in the top 10.
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)