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Girls XC qualifies for State Finals, VanderKooi advances as individual on the boys side

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From Coach Winkle – Saturday 10/29/16

We had roughly 1/3 of our usual 75 racers today, but those who competed provided an unforgettable viewing experience for SC cross country fans.  Thanks to all who were able to come today and to the rest of you … all providing wonderful support in multiple ways this season.  Our top 5 girls and top 6 guys all ran lifetime PR’s (personal records)–a rarity on a legit course at this time of year–and the other 3 in the Varsity races also ran well.

On the boys’ side, we came in seeded 7th, about the same distance from 5th and 9th, so a good race would move us up but a poor one down from there.  With the top 3 teams ranked in the D2 Top Ten in Michigan and a 4th not far behind, we thought we could finish 5th … and if any of the 4 titans faltered, to squeak into 4th if everything went very, very well for us.  And 4th it was, nearly 20 points ahead of the 5th place team … so even though no team trip to State Finals (only top 3), our boys were simply fabulous (and would have qualified for State in at least a few of the other 8 Regionals).  By finishing in the top 15 overall, freshman Micah VanderKooi qualified as an individual (8th place), and senior James Nykamp completed his stellar career w/ a lifetime best (by 20+ seconds) of 17:15.  Completing our scoring w/ their personal records were freshman Jared Berkenpas (17:41), sophomore Owen Pruim (17:43), and junior Tyler Warners, who busted through the 18:00 barrier for the first time w/ a 17:47.  Soph Anthony Nykamp broke 19:00 for only the 4th time in his young career … and nearly broke 18:00 as well, finishing in 18:06, and senior Alec Walstra nearly ran a PR as well.

Our girls were seeded 5th in the Regional, based upon best times, but we figured that if we could get 5 in the top 25, that would likely be good enough for a top 3 team finish and trip to State Finals … and soph Joz VanTol ended up our 5th runner in 23rd place (soph Eden VanderWeele 22nd, senior Jenna Hoekwater 21st, senior Josie Rice 6th, and frosh Anna Winkle 3rd).  Anna and Josie are both 1st-year runers and came in seeded 11th and 22nd respectively, but they handled the pressure of their 1st Regional brilliantly, both w/ 30ish-second PR’s and Top Ten finishes that we were not expecting.  And together w/ teammates Aubrey Meindertsma and Candice Baker, the team finished 2nd, comfortably ahead of the three teams that had been seeded immediately ahead of us.

In the Boys PROM (Post Regional Open Race), junior Joseph Feddema ran his Season PR, and both senior Mason Rauner and frosh Hudson Knapp ran their 2nd-fastest times ever.  In the Girls PROM, soph Emma Pothoven and frosh Abby VanderPloeg ran their lifetime PRs, and junior Brenna Newhouse her season best w/ the fastest SC time in the race.  The rest of our female PROM lineup–Rachel Offringa, Maddie Leenstra, Jillian Postma, and Zoe’ Donker–also had good races.

I often challenge SC runners w/ the famous quote by U.S. running legend Steve Prefontaine: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”   And then, we think about how we can apply that truth to running and myriad other areas of life.  And in Christ, we can flip the quote and joyfully proclaim, “To give your best is to celebrate the gift.”  And that’s what we did today.

Yes, it is truly a joy to be the SC cross country coach alongside my able assistants and friends Brent and Pam (and for much of this season volunteer assistant and alum Michael Potter).  Thanks for all the ways you contribute to that.

And to all a goodnight!

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