Though the Wayland girls’ cross-country team finished tied for fourth place in the O-K Gold Conference final standings, it’s going to the Division 2 state finals for the first time in quite a spell.
The Lady Wildcats finished third Saturday in the 14-team field at the Division 2 regional meet at Portage West Middle School. They accumulated 99 points, finishing behind Otsego’s 50 and Parma Western’s 63.
The Wildcat boys finished 14th in the regional meet with 355 points. Parma Western was regional champion with 103 points, Marshall had 108 and Vicksburg and Battle Creek Harper Creek had 118 apiece.
Sophomore Rylee Cronkright, who’s had quite an astonishing season thus far, had her best individual performance yet by breaking 19 minutes at 18:53.6 and finishing in the runner-up slot to Plainwell’s MaKenna Vean, who crossed the finish line in 18:05.1.
Also qualifying for the state championships individually for Wayland were senior Maggie Whitney, seventh in 19:31.8 and foreign exchange student Mie Tornbjerg, 11th in 20:03.9.
But it was the supporting cast that pulled the Lady Wildcats into a trip next Saturday to Michigan International Speedway near Brooklyn. Freshman Naomi Oosterhouse was 38th in 21:27.2 and Zoe Antel 41st in 21:30.2 to turn the trick.
Abbie Hasse and Corrina Courser will join the team in Brooklyn. Hasse was 46th and Courser 55th.
When asked how many times Wayland has fielded a team in the state cross-country finals, coach Sue Brewer answered, “1998, 2006 and today.”
Freshman Elijah Gamelin croosed the finish line in 18:47.7 to lead Wayland’s boys, in 62nd place. Sophomore Ian Russell was 66th in 18:45.5, Gabe Attruia 70th in 19:03.1, Ethan Killips 72nd in 19:10.9 and Jacob Jelsema 85th in 19:49.5.