Boys finish 13th out of 40; two runners earn all-state honors
Going into Saturday’s Class “D” Cross Country Coaches Association Championships, the cross country teams at Creative Technologies Academy had one goal in mind: a top-10 finish. The Lady Chargers stepped onto Maple Creek Golf Course in Shepherd, Michigan and blew that goal away, earning an exciting runner-up trophy in a race that featured 34 schools. CTA’s previous highest place at the state championships was a 12th place finish last year. Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart took home the first place title in both the girls and boys events.
CTA’s coaches attributed this year’s success to a dedicated group of runners who understood the importance of running as a team. “The key to our success was pack running,” commented head coach Gerry Verwey. “About half-way through the season we were able to get our 2nd-5th runners to link up and start training and racing as a group. Not only did this improve the quality of our practices, but our times as a whole began dropping, and our team scores at meets began improving as a result.”
It wasn’t just the pack of Chargers that made the difference. Sophomore Erin Munger continued to lead CTA, as she has all season, with a new personal record of 20:09, breaking her previous school record mark. Her fifth place finish earned her “All-State” honors and was significant to outdistancing CTA from the third through fifth place teams. Alicia Beck (22:25), Grace VanEnk (22:30), Michaela Smith (22:41), and Hannah Hubbard (22:42) rounded out the scoring for the Chargers. Also turning in solid runs were Dani George and Mikayla Tomandl. “Dani and Mikayla were aware at the start that any chances of placing well might come down to our 6th and 7th runners. They brought their best races ever to help secure our trophy,” added Verwey.
How well they placed surprised even Verwey. “This was an awesome day for CTA. I have to admit that I didn’t believe the girls when they first told me the team scores. I knew we ran well, but the thought of winning a trophy at State hadn’t ever crossed my mind. We had two goals left this season: winning a trophy and a top-ten placing at State. I didn’t expect us to achieve both at the same time,” he explained.
The performance of a boys team that placed 13th out of 40 schools should not go over looked either. Sophomore Aaron Nutt smashed the school record, leading the team with a time of 17:36, and placing high enough to earn “All-State” honors. Jeremiah Wortz (18:34), Benett Tomandl (18:56), Steve VanEnk (19:17), and Venus Ceballos (20:37) all stepped up at a time when the Chargers needed them most. “The boys ran their hearts out,” according to assistant coach Aaron Kenemer. “They knew what needed to be done and left it all on the course. It was great to see the aggressiveness, especially in the last mile of the race.”
Verwey is happy with the results of both teams. “We as coaches are so incredibly proud of both the girls and boys teams. They’ve been working hard since August and learned that good things don’t come easily, but when they do, it’s worth the work!”
CTA will conclude its season at the Michigan Independent High School Championships in Allendale next Saturday, October 29.