For those who follow boys cross country the vast majority would agree that the CAAC Blue division is one of the toughest leagues in the state. Those statistics spoke for themselves when the Comets finished fourth in the conference meet held at Ledge Meadows Golf Course on Oct. 18.
On a cool and wind swept course Grand Ledge finished fourth as a team with 78 points. A mere 30 points (not all that many in cross country statistics) separated the Comets from first place East Lansing with 48 points. Holt missed the title by two points with 50 and third place Okemos scored 11 fewer than the Comets with 67. Jackson came in with 125, Lansing Eastern 185 and Lansing Everett 199.
“The meet was a tough meet. We ran just a notch behind every runner we needed to win the league,” head coach Tim Hoshal said. “
Junior Nathan Megge finished first for the Comets with a time of 16:54 and second overall in this his first year of cross country. Junior Mike Buffin placed second and fifth overall at 17:11.
Senior Austin Rios placed third and 11th at 17:28 and sophomore Tony Patino grabbed fourth and 29th overall at 18:37. Senior Tyler Bannhard closed the scoring for the Comets in fifth place and 31st overall at 18:52.
Seniors Kyle Strange (18:58) and Ben Heriford (19:01) completed the varsity times.
“We knew that we were much better than we ran,” Hoshal added. “I encouraged them to work hard and that we had to regroup for the regional meet.”
And work the kids did as they carried their pride and hard work to Portage Middle School to compete in the regional meet. In the end their rejuvenated legs and savvy carried them to a third place finish and a trip to the state finals to be held at the Michigan International Speedway. The meet was held on Nov. 3.
Grand Ledge was the lone CAAC Blue school to enter the Division 1 Region 3 meet consisting of 13 teams.
In the end Hudsonville won the title with 63 points while Portage Central was runners-up with 71. Grand Ledge took third place with 95 points. The top three teams from each region advance to the state meet.
Megge was sensational as he raced to a third place finish with an outstanding time of 16:19.
Buffin crossed the line in sixth place at 16:39, also an exceptionally good time.
Rios finished under 17 minutes at 16:48 and finished in the top 10 in ninth place, a great time for Austin.
Bannhard was fourth and 35th at 17:35 and Heriford had an excellent day and cut his time to finish fifth and 42nd overall at 17:48.
Strange finished 55th at 18:23 and Patino came in 74th at 18:56 out of a field of 91 runners.
“Wow. The guys really pulled together and got it done to qualify for the state meet,” Hoshal praised.