Pioneer runners expect another big season

August 27, 2015

Jasmine Harper

Jasmine Harper

By Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

When it comes to cross country in this area, Clare just seems to dominate. Both the girls’ and boys’ teams expect yet another banner year. Though as usual they’ll have to work for it to happen.

The girls team won their fifth straight Jack Pine Conference title last year and also took second at regionals and finished 15th in the division three state finals. They look to be in pretty good shape again this year as they return seven all-conference runners from last year’s squad.

“We have a hard working team of girls who continue to get better each day,” eighth year girls’ head coach Kyle McKown said. “We have an exciting mix of new runners that are mixing well with our veteran upperclassmen.”

Seniors returning for the Lady Pioneers are Madison McPhee (all-conference), Paige Gould (all-conference), juniors Jasmine Harper (all-conference, all-regional, all-state), Holly Pummell (all-conference, all-regional), Makenzie Harmon (all-conference, all-regional), Hannah Brown (all-conference, all-regional) and Jordyn Bradley (all-conference).

New to the team are freshmen Lainey Veenkant, Olivia Haring and Tarryn Winter.

“Our kids understand the commitment that it takes to be the best that they can be and they have been working hard throughout the summer to prepare for the upcoming season,” McKown said. “We will be working hard to continue improving as a team throughout the entire season.”

While the Lady Pioneers should be the favorites in the JPC once again, they also have bigger aspirations in mind too.

“Roscommon has a large and tough program in the JPC each year and Meridian will be a program on the rise this season,” McKown said. “Our goals include qualifying for the state finals as a team and finishing in the top 10 in the state. We are in a very tough region this year so we will be preparing well to be at our best when the end of the season comes.”

The boys had an even arguably better year last season. The Pioneers ran to their seventh straight JPC

Ben Haupt

Ben Haupt

championship, their second straight regional title and an eighth place finish at the state finals.

The boys may not be as jam-packed with returning runners but that doesn’t mean they have lowered their expectations.

“The goals are the same as always,” eighth year boys’ head coach Adam Burhans said. “We want to retain the JPC title and qualify as a team for states”

Senior Chase Field returns after nabbing second team all-conference honors last year, junior Ben Haupt was first team all-conference and also all-regional and sophomore Jimmy Teall was first team all-conference and named to the all-regional team as well.

“We are working hard at being good teammates, training smart and working toward achievable goals,” Burhans said. “Senior Nick Wertheimer and junior Scotty Baldwin are in the best pre-season shape of their lives, so we’re hoping to see them make charges soon.”

The Pioneers add three freshmen to the mix that will look to crack varsity spots as well, those being Davin Good, Aidan Boyd and Jayce Miller.

“All of them are solid, very coachable freshmen who were consistently the top junior high runners in the conference,” Burhans said. “Good and Boyd were one-two at every jamboree, with Miller floating into the top five at every junior high jamboree.”

Clare opens its season at the Benzie Central Invitational on Saturday and hosts its own invite on Wednesday.


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