Buchanan girls cross country team qualifies for D3 regionals

WATERVLIET — The Buchanan girls cross country team is peaking at the right time.

The Bucks qualified for the regional meet after placing fourth at the Division 3 pre-regional meet Saturday at Watervliet High School.

Buchanan placed five runners in the top 28, led by freshman Eleanor Young’s fifth-place time of 20:58.58. Freshmen Sydney Greaves (22:25.33) and Alyvia Baker (23:32.23) placed 15th and 23rd, respectively. Junior Joy Kaltenbach (23:34.39) finished 24th and senior captain Katie  DeVlaminck (23:56.32) 28th.

Brandywine’s Allison Lauri placed 11th with a time of 22:09.72 and Morgan Horvath was 26th with a time of 23:43.83.

“I thought we did a wonderful job,” DeVlaminck said. “Eleanor was dominating today. All of our girls have been doing great this year. It has been an outstanding improvement. I’m so proud of this team.”

This season’s Lower Peninsula Cross Country Championships began with an additional pre-regional round, which divided traditional regionals into smaller groups in order to limit field sizes per race site. A total of 18 pre-regional races per each of four divisions will qualify the top four teams and top seven individuals not on those teams to nine regionals per division.

From regionals, the top three teams and seven individuals not on those teams will advance to each of the finals, which will be run Friday (Division 1 and 2) and Saturday (Division 3 and 4), Nov. 6 and Nov. 7, at Michigan International Speedway.

Buchanan coach Kristin Baker was impressed with her team’s performance.

“They ran exceptional,” Baker said. “We had a breakthrough performance on  Tuesday that carried us into today. Young has made significant moves as well as Greaves. DeVlaminck, our number five runner, has provided the team with great leadership.”

It has been a challenging year for the Buchanan program, which has overcome runners being quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19 this season. But the quarantine could not stop them from practicing.

“Our top two freshmen runners had to be quarantined for 14 days earlier this season,” Baker said. “They came out of quarantine the day of the conference championship. They ran decent races but not what I would have expected. On Tuesday, we had a week and a half of practice under our belts and they exploded, and carried that into today’s performance.”

Baker and the Bucks are hoping to earn a top-three placement in next week’s Division 3 regional Saturday at Portage West Middle School.

“Our regional today was very stacked,” Baker said. “The best teams in the region were basically all here today. A third-place finish at the regional is still definitely doable, but it’s gonna take everybody running their top performance on that day. It’s a strong group of girls we might sneak a third spot. I think we have that potential, so we’ll work hard to try to do it.”

On the boys’ side, Walker Barz placed second overall with a time of 17:19.68. Ryan Young overcame time missed due to COVID-19 quarantining and placed 12th with 18:32.84. Both runners qualified for next week’s regional meet.

“Walker had a really good race,” Baker said. “He’s been kind of struggling this season but he pulled it together today. Ryan came back from a personal injury and then a quarantine that kept him out of running with us for almost four weeks, so he’s doing very well.”

Brandywine junior Micah Colby earned a 25th place finish with a time of 19:47.80.

Connor Dye (20:21.04) and Brock Dye (20:29.91) placed 30th and 31st respectively, while Bryce Taberski (20:30.44) and Ethan Ohara (21:40.65) earned 33rd and 42nd place finishes.

“I think a lot of our kids ran real real well,” said Brandywine coach Terry Borr.

“We ran here a few weeks ago, and when you compare our time to then, a lot of the kids improved their times by one to two minutes. Our progression throughout the season has been really good. It’s been a fun group. Hopefully, we have at least two or three kids running next week. That’s what our goal was.”

Borr liked what he saw from Lauri and Horvath in the girls race.

“[Lauri] probably overachieved a little bit as far as places overall than we thought she might do,” Borr said. “She was 11th and I think she was projected somewhere around 15th or 16th, so that’s positive. She’s really turned it on this year and got motivated. Her and Morgan [Horvath]  have really battled back and forth.”

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