The weather proved to be much more runner friendly Wednesday afternoon at Cass Benton Park as the storm-delayed Mustang Invitational cross country meet featured cooler temperatures and blue skies.
The meet was postponed for a day after a severe thunderstorm rolled through the area late in the afternoon after temperatures reached a heat index of 99.
The non-team scoring meet, a kickoff to the season hosted by Northville, consisted of four different races for girls and boys divided into a junior-senior division and a freshman-sophomore grouping.
The Northville girls, defending Division 1 girls state champions, boasted two individual winners as Lexa Barrott won the 5-kilometer race for grades 11-12 in 18 minutes, 57 seconds, while teammate Cayla Eckenroth led from start-to-finish to win the grade 9-10 race easily in 19:45.
“I knew I was going to be by myself pretty much through the most of it so I wanted to see how I was going to pace myself,” said Barrott, who owned a 42-second differential over runner-up Emma Wilson of Romeo. “I didn’t feel too good today, but it was probably better running than yesterday.
“I was really ready to run yesterday. I was excited to kind of get the season started, but I think it kind of paid off running today because it’s a lot cooler.”
Eckenroth shot out into the lead from the start and won by 47 seconds over Walled Lake Northern’s Brianna Mulrooney.
“I just tried to get out there and set a pace for myself,” Eckenroth said “Just get out there and try my hardest, just see how everything goes. It was O.K,, but it wasn’t awful. The weather was nice, so it was good. I was ready to run yesterday, but … ”
Also earning all-invitational honors (top 25) for the host Mustangs in the junior-senior race was Emma Hermann, fourth (20:13); Hailey Harris, sixth (21:10); Mirai Kobayashi, 11th (21:55); Paige Zimmer, 18th (22:38); and Addison Gaines, 25th (22:48).
Also earning medals for Northville in the girls 9-10 race included Taylor Gattoni, fourth (20:54); Helena Bryans, 12th (21:58); Katie Chevoor, 19th (22:25); Rachel Zimmer, 21st (22:29); and Emily Rudberg, 25th (22:48).
“I was happy with the way they performed,” Smith said. “They were happy it was cooler. This is our training course, so they were happy with their times. Compared to last year, all my top girls, and in-between girls did minute to 30 seconds better.
“Two girls that really surprised me were two of my freshman, Rachel Zimmer and Emily Rudberg. They ran a great, smart race and they improved from the camp time trial. Another one that stepped up was Taylor Gattoni. She is one of my top seven already, but improved from last year.”
Novi was led by senior Hannah Longeran, who placed third in the girls 11-12 race with a clocking of 20:13.
The Wildcats also had three others make all-invitational in the freshman-sophomore class as Hadley Peterson (21:12) and Jacalyn Schubring (21:14) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, while Jessica Lipka took 13th (22:09). Heather Blair was just one place out of the top 25 in 22:50.