Both boys and girls cross country regional champs
By Sue Wolfe
Boys Cross Country Coach Ted Sabinas, his daughter Jen (Sabinas) Kahler (Girls Cross Country Coach) and their teams have been setting Cedar Springs school records all season. However, this year’s teams are definitely earning elite status that may never be surpassed.
Last Saturday, both the girls and boys cross country teams finished first in the Division II Regional Cross Country meets held at Benzie Central High School. Not only did they earn two (boys and girls) regional team titles for Cedar Springs, but they also laid claim to the top two running times from all divisions in the State of Michigan. Kenzie Weiler and Connor Mora each finished with the best current individual times in the state according to athletic.net.
“We have two of the very best cross country runners in Michigan right here in Cedar Springs,” explains Coach Sabinas. “These runners have not only accomplished outstanding personal running feats but have also inspired and challenged the rest of the team knowing that it takes a entire team to win conference, regional, and state competitions.”
Kenzie Weiler, a freshman on the girls team and Connor Mora, a junior, have been posting some of the fastest times in the state all year. The Cedar Springs girls team has sisters Kenzie and Katie Weiler (daughters of Pat and Julie (Myers) Weiler, both outstanding high school and collegiate athletes themselves) finished first and second at regionals with times of 17.13 minutes and 17.57 respectively.
“Our team has worked very hard this year. At the regional meet, all seven runners from both the girls and boys teams achieved personal best times of their career thus far,” said Coach Kahler. The Weiler’s other five running mates had personal best times which include Sommer Vandyke 19:23, Maddie Pekrul (19:32), Michaela Burnett (19:41), Christina Dean (20:04), and Kendahl Oberdorfer (20:22). “It is important that our players stay healthy and reach their peak at this point of the season. They are doing just that,” she noted.
Part of the teams’ success is the great rapport between the athletes and their coaches. “We respect and admire the blend of coaching our team has received this year from both Coach Sabinas and Coach Kahler. They brought different elements into our practices and meets at different times during the season. As shown in the team’s success, it has been the perfect combination of coaching styles,” said both Katie and Kenzie Weiler.
For the first time ever in Cedar Springs High School history, the girls team has been ranked first in the state. They have been bouncing back and forth among the top five all season. The team won both the conference and regional meets and is ready for the state meet scheduled for this Saturday, November 5 at MIS Speed Way in Brooklyn, Michigan starting at 1:30 for the girls and 2:30 for the boys.
Coach Kahler had to miss only a few weeks of the season, giving birth to her and her husband Bryan’s first child, Lela. She and her father worked together to keep the team with a well-planned schedule during Kahler’s short absence. This is Kahler’s 9th season as the varsity girls coach, during which the team holds three consecutive conference and regional titles, along with a 6th place team finish at the state level in 2010, a school record for the women’s team.
When Coach Kahler was asked how she can continually bring the best out of her runners both physically and mentally she explains, “The girls and I believe strongly in the sense of team and the work that they put in day in and day out for each other helps strengthen each individual’s running performance.”
Sabinas had high praise for his daughter. “Jen is highly respected among the running class of athletes and coaches throughout the state for her knowledge and abilities. In just 9 years, she has already accomplished many of the goals I set for my teams in a 27-year span,” explained Sabinas. “She is doing an amazing job with the many facets of coaching necessary to achieve conference, regional, and state level success.”
Veteran Coach Sabinas is in his 27th year as varsity men’s coach. He too holds school and state records for his cross-country teams. Sabinas’s teams highest honor is runner up at the state meet in 1990. Other significant accomplishments include over 160 dual meet wins, 3 conference titles, 3 regional titles, and 10 teams placing in state meets.
“Conner Mora has consistently been an outstanding runner. He finished 2nd at the 2010 state finals and continued to improve his times this year. He improved through hard work and tremendous dedication. However, Connor would be quick to point out that our team’s success is just that—team success and not individual success. His six regional teammates all achieved personal best times with Aaron Brooks (16:06), Justin Harthorn (16:26), Alex Bray (16:32), Austin Sargent (16:32), Ethan Menefee (16:48), and Dan Zinn (17:27) stepping up to secure the championship,” said Sabinas.
“Coach Sabinas understands us really well,” commented Mora. “He knew what type of training we needed to take our team to the state level. We are now ready and excited for next week.”
Autumn Mattson, CSHS Athletic Director, urged fans to support the teams. “This is a year when the Cedar Springs Community will want to get out and cheer for their two cross country teams as we have some of the finest ever Red Hawk runners competing,” she said. “This is a pretty unique moment for our school and community having two teams qualify for state during the same season and to have the best male and female runner in the state on our teams. This is all happening under the leadership of a father-daughter cooperative coaching effort,” she remarked.