Prior to the Spartan Invitational, it appeared the jump to Division 1 would end East Lansing’s string of seven straight top-7 finishes at state finals since they were all in Division 2.
But the Trojans’ eighth-place finish in the elite race for the state’s best teams on Friday at Michigan State’s Forest Akers East Golf Course have changed their perceptions.
“The best teams, most of them were here,” East Lansing girls coach Bob Brown said. “First and second might be hard to reach, but top 10, top five are certainly possible.
“Today was the first day we had everybody running, and the kids really ran well.”
The meet was the first big one for freshman Zoe Morse, who was hoping to finish among the top 30 in about 18:45.
She instead took fourth in 18:09, 14 seconds faster than any mid-Michigan runner managed last fall and not far from East Lansing’s best ever, Eileen Fleck (17:45) and Maddie Reeves (17:51).
“It was way faster than I thought,” Morse said.
“She’s an amazing athlete and a competitor,” Brown said. “She comes to practice, and then goes to soccer practice afterward.”
In the boys elite race, senior Tanner Hinkle was a close second in the same time of 15:23 he ran a year ago. But his Mason team took 12th because fourth runner Jacob Hanson did not compete due to a minor injury.
“I took the lead right away, and the mile was fast (4:42), but the second mile was slow,” Hinkle said. “I was out in front waiting for someone to make a move. The last mile, a couple kids took the lead. But with 200 (meters) to go, it was just two of us, and he had a better kick than me.”
Mason sophomore Mason VanDyke also broke 16 minutes with a 15:53, one second and one place behind Lansing Catholic sophomore Keenan Rebera.
Mason sophomore Meg Darmofal won the green division girls race in 18:34, St. Louis senior Raquel Serna won the new bronze division irace for medium-sized high schools (MHSAA Division 2 or 3) in 18:37, and DeWitt sophomore Shelby Waterson ran 18:42 while taking 18th in the elite race.
The Haslett boys team won the bronze division, while the Ithaca boys won the white division race for smaller high schools (Division 3 or 4).