SL sends girls’ and boys’ XC teams to State Meet for first time ever

Spring+Lake+girls+run+in+the+Mel+Hall+Invitational+on+October+21.++The+girls%E2%80%99+team+finished+12th+in+the+State+Meet+on+November+4.++Photo%3A++Lacie+Piekarski
Spring Lake girls run in the Mel Hall Invitational on October 21.  The girls’ team finished 12th in the State Meet on November 4.  Photo:  Lacie Piekarski

Spring Lake girls run in the Mel Hall Invitational on October 21. The girls’ team finished 12th in the State Meet on November 4. Photo: Lacie Piekarski

Spring Lake girls run in the Mel Hall Invitational on October 21. The girls’ team finished 12th in the State Meet on November 4. Photo: Lacie Piekarski

by Julia Bajt, Sports

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On Saturday, November 4, the Spring Lake cross country team, for the first time ever in Spring Lake history, sent both their boys’ and their girls’ varsity teams to the Division 2 State Finals at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan.

Going into the meet, both teams’ goals were to place top ten, but they fell just short.

The girls placed 12th in the state, with a team of Julia Bajt, Kate Gilchrist, Maggie Cooper, Eva Tilton, Lizzy Penrice, Chloe Lohman and Maddy Windberg making an appearance on the race track.

When asked about the race, senior captain Maddy Windberg said, “The race was really fun and I’m so happy we made it there. I loved this team and the season was so successful, place-wise and fun-wise. Everything was great.”

Cameron Thalhammer races ahead at the Mel Hall Invitational on Oct. 21. Photo: Lacie Piekarski

The Laker boys placed 13th, with a team of Andrew Hylen, Ben Hylen, Matthew Vanderwall, Cameron Thalhammer, Jack Leech, Will Brown and Andrew Sellon, most of whom had also run at the State Meet in 2016.

The Lakers had tough conditions during the race, which was delayed due to weather at the start. During the run, the course was unfavorable to the competitors, leaving them slipping in the mud.

However, the Lakers were not deterred, and they had a strong showing as a team.

Senior captain Cameron Thalhammer said, “Although the meet didn’t go all that well on Saturday, I think the conditions had a lot to do with it, especially the mud, rain, and delays, which hurt morale. We did have some guys who stepped up and had great races, Will Brown being one of them. For me, personally, I wouldn’t have wanted the season to go any other way. As a team we knew when to work but also when it was time to have some fun, which I think made the difference overall. In the end, of course, it was all about being dedicated to the brotherhood.”

“I knew that Saturday was a tough race for a lot of our guys,” added the other senior captain Will Brown. “It was the conditions that impacted the race the most. But in no way did that race reflect our season as a whole. Looking back, we got first in the [O-K Blue] Conference, second at Regionals, and Andrew Hylen set a new school record of 15:37.2. Even beyond the stats though, I know a lot of our guys enjoyed the season. This was definitely due to the positive chemistry from all our runners and our three senior captains.”

The Lakers did not let the course conditions get in the way of their goals, and recorded a couple PRs.

On the girls’ team, Kate Gilchrist ran a determined race and came across the finish line second for her team, and with a new personal record of 19:59. Gilchrist had been close to breaking the 20-minute barrier all season, and to finally managed to do so in the final race.

Kate said, “Well, it was pretty awesome. It feels like all the mile repeats were worth it and I was so happy. It feels pretty nice to beat Skyler’s (Gilchrist) time too…”

On the boys’ team, senior Will Brown concluded his high school cross country career with a bang, coming in sixth for the boys with a personal record of 17:36.

Another notable performance came, yet again, from junior standout Andrew Hylen. Going into the race, Hylen was hoping to get All State, and he did not disappoint.

Coming in 19th overall with an incredible time of 15:59, Hylen secured his Cross Country All State award for the second year in a row, placing two spots higher than last year’s State Meet.

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