By John Vrancic
For the Newberry News
It was a solid outing for Leah French as she placed eighth in the Manistique Invitational cross country meet on Wednesday.
The Engadine senior covered the 3.1-mile course in 24 minutes, 31.83 seconds on this sunny and warm day at the Schoolcraft County Fairgrounds.
“I think I did pretty good compared to last year,” she said. “Our practices have been going better. We did some hard practices this summer. Tracy [Germain] has definitely been working us harder and I’m in better shape this year. I was a little nervous today. I just wanted to run an even pace. It was hot out there. Hopefully, this was the hottest race this year.”
Munising took the team title with 65 points, followed by Superior Central 81, Sault Ste. Marie 82, Stephenson 94, Gladstone 101, Escanaba 117 and Engadine 123. Mackinaw City, Manistique, Gladstone, Forest Park, Rapid River, North Central and St. Ignace didn’t field complete teams.
Munising senior Monique Brisson edged Sault junior Cassandra Gallagher by a step for her first career victory.
“I’m really happy about it,” said Brisson, who was clocked at 21:57.3. “I’m kind of stunned. I wasn’t really expecting it. It was a race. She’s really good.”
Gallagher ran a 21:57.78, followed by Manistique freshman Mya Carlson (23:38.7).
Munising senior Hattie Cota placed fifth (23:57.21), followed by Olivia Cotey seventh (24:10.15), senior Elizabeth Holloway 19th (26:42.18), sophomore Elizabeth Wing 56th (34:16.32) and senior Ireland Anderson 59th (39:08.16).
Freshman Kiera McDonnald was Superior Central’s pacesetter in 11th at 25:03.42, followed by senior Madisen Begovac 14th (26:08.14), freshman Rowan Allender 22nd (27:27.05), sophomore Calla Porter 25th (27:46.52), juniors Bree Swajanen 28th (27:59.96) and Alice Hancock 39th (29:25.2) and sophomore Ruth Johnson 48th (31:45.4).
Engadine junior Ally Loebach took 17th (26:23.8). She was followed by classmate Clara Gould 35th (28:45.92), sophomore Hali Butkovich 45th (31:08.79), freshman Lacey Ross 55th (32:43.31) and junior Lillia Bigelow 57th (35:51.62).
Sault captured the boys’ title with 38 points, followed by Gladstone 69, Esky 77, Stephenson 120, Manistique 127, Engadine and Menominee 167, Superior Central 168 and Munising 197. Escanaba Holy Name, Mackinaw City, North Central, Rapid River, Mid Peninsula and St. Ignace had no team scores.
Gladstone senior Drew Hughes retained his title at 17:53.54, followed by Sault senior Cody Aldridge (17:54.94) and freshman Gabe Litzner (18:10.39).
Munising sophomore Dan Goss took 11th (20:12.3) and freshman Duane Krenek was Engadine’s leader in 19th (21:19.47).
Additional finishers for the Eagles were sophomores Ethan Edwards 23rd (21:42.9) and Dakota Taylor 44th (23:57.58), juniors Nick Ehn 50th (24:26.41) and Elijah Parker 68th (28:46.41) and freshman Vern Loebach 70th (29:53.79).
“We were short three boys today,” said Germain. “Conrad (Spieles) didn’t run today because he had some leg issues. We have two freshman boys. A couple kids fell off a little. Although, I’m absolutely pleased with their effort. We have three first-time runners. The kids absolutely ran hard. Leah had a very nice finish. All the girls ran strong.”
Superior Central freshman Cody Moore placed 25th (21:49.35), followed by senior Wyatt Kulik 43rd (23:51.82), freshman Cole Ozoga 49th (24:25.96), junior Paavo Mannisto 61st (26:26.56) and freshman Isaac Gleason 65th (27:55.43).
Munising freshman Nolan Connaughton was 51st (24:52.98) with junior Frank Carlson 59th (25:59.89) and Nate Peterson 64th (27:09.26).
Engadine ran in Monday’s Straits Area Conference Jamboree opener at St. Ignace. The Eagles resume in the Eastern U.P. Conference Jamboree opener at Newberry Sept. 19 and St. Ignace Invitational Sept. 21.
The Alger County teams resume Saturday, with Munising going downstate for the Holly Invitational and Superior Central hosting its invite.