Lady Pioneers run to 5th place finish at State Finals

November 9, 2017

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

The Clare cross country teams have seemingly made running at the state finals a tradition for its program. The girls and boys squads once against ran at the championship races on Saturday, at Michigan International Speedway. The Lady Pioneers had a fifth place showing while the boys were good for 13th.

The girls had all five of their scoring runners clock times of under 21-minutes, giving the team one of their best finishes ever at the meet.

Olivia Harring finished 52nd with a time of 20:09.

Olivia Harring finished 52nd with a time of 20:09.

“We are very proud of the girl’s performance at the state finals, girls head coach Kyle McKown said. “They put it all on the line and fought every step of the race. Their fifth place finish is the highest finish for a Clare girls’ cross country team since the runner-up finish of 1979.”

Junior speedster Lainey Veenkant ran in the top five for most of the race and even though she faded towards the end, she still had an all-state 12th place finish in a time of 19:07.

“Veenkant become a three time all-state athlete and showed more guts during her race than any cross country athlete I have ever coached,” McKown said.

Olivia Haring had a solid 52nd place finish, with a time of 20:09 and in 59th and 60th were Kameron Haag and Katherine Haupt, timing out at 20:15 and 20:16. Riley Schroeder placed 91st at 20:43, Nicole Taylor was 141st in a time of 21:21 and Bri Smith clocked a 22:20 and finished 183rd.

Riley Schroeder placed 91st at 20:43.

Riley Schroeder placed 91st at 20:43.

“Our pack continues to run strong and stepped up big against the best teams in the state,” McKown said. “This group has been amazing all season.  They work hard, support each other, and have the determination that will not only help them to continue to get better as runners, but it will also take them far in life.  They’ve realized that it isn’t about what happens that matters, but that what’s most important is how you choose to react to the things that happen in life, and then how you get back up, fight back, and finish strong.  They continue to inspire us all and make us proud, each day.”

The good news for the team is that it doesn’t graduate any of their state finals runners.

“We have a very young team and return 15-of 17-girls for next year’s team,” McKown said. “We are excited to work hard and to run even stronger next season.”

The boys’ team had just over a minute between their top finishing runner and their seventh, giving the team a distinct pack mentality.

“We packed up better than we have all season, which was good,” boys head coach Adam Burhans said. “The problem is, the pack got out to a bit too slow and spent most of the race catching up. In the end, we just ran out of real estate. Sometimes that happens, but this shouldn’t overshadow another tremendous season.”

Jace Miller

Jace Miller

Leading the way was David Good, he was 77th in a time of 17:18, Jimmy Teall was 86th at 17:23, Alan Winter crossed in a time of 17:24 and was 89th, Kaleb Schroeder placed 102nd at 17:28, in 110th was Jayce Miller by timing out at 17:32 and Dylan Morrish was 153rd at 17:32.

The Pioneer boys graduate Teall and Dangler from its state finals team.

“We had some solid veteran help and new faces to help us become a great team,” Burhans said. “We don’t lose much and are very excited for next year as we should be much stronger.”

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