Friday night is the big stage for high school sports. It is when the community comes out to watch their favorite sons play their favorite sport of football.
Big crowds, bands, cheerleaders.
Other sports in the fall don’t get nearly as much attention.
Harper Creek and Pennfield looked to change that on Friday.
Along with the big city rivalry football game between Pennfield and Harper Creek on Friday, the two schools added a boys’ and girls’ cross country meet to the festivities – and put bragging rights and a trophy on the line to juice things up a bit.
After all the stats had been counted following the three-sport event, which ever school had won two of the three contests gets a traveling trophy that has a football and two cross country runners on it. The idea is, that school gets bragging rights for a year and the two schools will make this an annual event as future Beavers and Panthers will be chasing the hardware themselves.
“Our cross country kids work as hard as any when it comes to preparing for the season. Our coach, Ryan Renner, has had the idea for a couple of years to run a meet in conjunction with a football game. He was able to pull it off with Pennfield and we feel it was great for our kids to be able to perform in front of a bigger crowd then what they normally would. Hopefully, it will be an annual event between Harper Creek and Pennfield,” Harper Creek Athletic Director Ed Greenman said.
As for the first edition of this event, it was Harper Creek winning the boys’ cross country meet and Harper Creek the girls’ cross country meet.
Which meant the football game was just extra, as the Beavers had already clinched the new trophy before kickoff.
“This was a great event for cross country and Harper Creek and Pennfield. It helps make the community aware of the sport of cross county and how hard these kids work,” Harper Creek cross country coach Ryan Renner said. “It is a new rivalry with Pennfield for us in I-8, so this will help boost this rivalry and hopefully we can keep it going every year.”
Harper Creek beat Pennfield in boys cross country 22-33. Leading the way was Ben Isaacson, who won his first high school cross country race in a time of 18:13.
“This was awesome, having the crowd here was great,” Issacson said.
Other top finishers for Harper Creek were Tommy Shaw (third place, 18:21), Drew VanWagne (5th, 18:42), Drew Haller (6th, 18:44), Devon Funk (7th, 19:01)
For Pennfield, Nick Simonds led the way finishing second in a time of 18:20.
Also for Pennfield, Kyle Tharp (4th, 18:39), Jean Luc LaChance (8th, 19:21), Keagan Burns (9th, 19:27), Nolan Bornammen (10th, 19:44).
Harper Creek beat Pennfield in girls’ cross country 19-44. Leading the way was the Beavers’ Allegra Baird taking first in a time of 20:57.
Also for Harper Creek was Hannah Berning (3rd, 21:50), Danielle Stewart (4th, 22.10), Emma Berning (5th, 22:37), Julianna Adams (6th, 22:46)
For Pennfield, Mallory Haaksma led the way finishing second in a time of 21:14.
Also for Pennfield, Torey Fischer (9th, 24:40), Schaylee Smith (12th, 24:51), Savannah Gregory (13th, 24:57), Ashley Morales (18th, 26:24).
“We want to make this a tradition to give the people a little something different on football night and get them excited about cross country as they do for football,” Pennfield coach Rick McKire said. “These kids work hard and they deserve to be seen.”
Contact Bill Broderick (269) 966-0678 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @billbroderick