By Travis Smola
Vicksburg’s cross country teams were feeling the effect of Michigan’s unseasonable early fall weather in the first part of the season. “It’s been hot,” head coach Lucas Wolthuis said after the teams faced off against Edwardsburg at the school’s course on the Nazarene campgrounds. Temperatures were hovering near 90 degrees, even at the start of race time at 5 p.m. “It’s been such a huge factor because it changes the runner’s times,” he added.
Still, that didn’t stop junior Kyle Strong from winning the race in a time of 17:26 and helping lead the Bulldogs to a 23-36 victory. Fellow juniors Collin Eager and Aidan Ward also finished in the top 5. Senior Ben Loriso set a personal record while coming in 8th place.
The girls ended up falling in the same meet by a score of 17-43. Senior Layna Steele was the highest finisher for the Lady Bulldogs, coming in fourth.
The hot conditions and mosquitoes in the more wooded areas of the course were tough on the runners and make it tough for them to set new personal or season records. Both teams also have quite a bit of youth to them, which means many are still learning the ins and outs of cross country.
Wolthuis said he expects to see more improvements as the temperatures drop and running conditions improve. At their latest match against Allegan, that definitely seemed to be the case. Strong again finished in the top spot. Ward and sophomore Kyle Kelly and freshman Evan Frank all set new personal records as the Bulldogs beat Allegan 25-39.
The girls also came away with a victory against the Tigers by a score of 18-39. It was junior Hannah Flickinger taking the win, closely followed by freshman Angel Currie while setting a new personal record in the process.
Senior Kasmyn VanMaanen and junior Therese Thamann rounded out the top 5 while setting new season records in the process. Also notable were sophomore Abbey Lafler and freshman Kassie Lash, who both set new personal records.
“I think we’re going to continue to grow, we should see a different team by the end of the year,” Wolthuis said.