DIVISION 3 CROSS COUNTRY STATE FINALS: Erie Mason’s Raymond, Lutheran North’s Patterson emerge as champions; Jackson Lumen Christi sweeps titles
BY DAN STICKRADT
BROOKLYN, Mich. — Erie Mason’s Nick Raymond learned a valuable lesson last season at Michigan Speedway: It’s not how you start, but how you finish.
Raymond led for part of the Lower Peninsula Division 3 cross-country state finals in 2011 only to fade back and finish fourth.
He didn’t let that happen again.
The senior took command of the race halfway through and posted a blistering time of 15:05.1, which not only gave him the individual state championship, but landed him amongst the top-30 times since the MHSAA moved the state finals to M.S. back in 1996.
He now has the second-fastest time ever recorded by a Division 3 runner at M.S.
“Last year I went out and was leading the race. I was a little confused, because I wasn’t expecting to do so,” recalled Raymond.” I kind of died and fell back. This time I was prepared to go out to the lead and just take it. No one really went with me.”
Raymond not only finished unbeaten against D-3 competition, but was undefeated on the season overall. He had the second-fastest time of the day combining the four divisions.
“I haven’t had any competition this season, except here, which I liked,” added Raymond, who placed in both the 1,600 and 3,200 runs last season at the D-3 track and field state finals. “It was great. I got a really fast time. I was happy with it. I didn’t lose all season.”
Hanover-Horton’s Bruce Stroede was second (15:22.4), while Scottville Mason County Central’s Chase Barnett (15:28.7), Marlette’s Jacob Bowman (15:37.2) and Lansing Catholic’s Keenan Rebera (15:42.5) followed in the top five in the field of 250 finishers.
Jackson Lumen Christi won the boys team title in narrow fashion, scoring 129 points to edge Marlette’s 137 points. Grandville Calvin Christian was third (147), while Benzonia Benzie Central (187), Freeland (196), Ithaca (216), Mason County Central (223), Watervliet (250), Stockbridge (261) and Lansing Catholic Central (312) followed in the top 10 of the team standings.
Lumen Christi had its top five finishers in the top 55, as it took Marlette 77 positions to have five runners cross the line. Marlette had two runners finish inside the top 10.
Karl Berkmeier was 12th to pace Lumen Christi, with Charlie Ludlow (13th), Ryan Gibson (20th), Patrick Soltis (30th) and Canyon Raburn (54th) aided the winning effort.
Macomb Lutheran North’s Gina Patterson says she runs with a divine purpose. The sophomore won her first state title with a 17:43.4 clocking, shattering her school record and winning by 16 seconds.
“Whatever God’s plan for me is, I’ll go out and chase it,” said the sophomore, who was sixth last season and wasn’t favored to win it this year. “I didn’t think I was going to win. I just wanted to go out and run better than last year. It’s an amazing feeling. I feel so blessed. I just wanted to go out and run my best. That’s what is so pleasing God. It’s not that I won, but ran my best.”
St. Louis’ Rachel Serna was a distant second in 17:59.8, with Manistee’s Annie Fuller (18:10.8), Charlevoix’s Amber May (18:13.6) and Holland Black River Academy’s Allison Vroon (18:21.9) also finishing in the top five.
“I just came out here and looked forward to having a good experience,” added Patterson. “It was a great surprise. I really didn’t expect to win.”
Lumen Christi pulled the sweep by winning the girls crown with 167 points, only four points ahead of Grandville Calvin Christian’s 171. Caro was back in third with 201 points, with Benzie Central (204), Lansing Catholic Central (237), Hanover-Horton (241), Macomb Lutheran North (275), Bath (288), Shepherd (299) and Mason County Central (332) also finished in the top 10.
Lumen Christi’s boys put four in the top 40 to claim the title. Caitlin clark (18th), Aubrey Renn (19th), Jensen McEldowney (35th), Leanne Leuthard (40th) and Anna Berkemeier (55th) were part of Lumen Christi’s scoring unit.
(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.)