By Heather Smith
Special to the Leader
It was a heartbreaking finish to a fabulous year for the Oxford varsity boys cross country team– which fell short in qualifying for States at the MHSAA Region 9 finals held October 28.
Having beat the Clarkston Wolves in five previous meets this year, the Wolves were able to pull ahead of the Wildcats. Oxford placed fourth (101 points), a mere three points behind Rochester Stoney Creek (98 points) while Romeo placed first (49 points) and Clarkston second (78 points).
Coach Norm Petersimes reflected, “Even though we did not qualify as a team [for States] we had a great season, a league championship, and countless personal records. I am proud of how this team gave it their all at every meet.”
Senior Dominic Bruce (15:57) placed 11th in the boys varsity race while junior Hunter Green (16:17) set a new PR placing 15th. Both boys will move on to compete individually at the state level.
Junior JJ Bagans (16:18) finished one second after his teammate in 16th place, narrowly missing the opportunity to run at States, but setting a new personal record by 26 seconds. Senior Ulises Rodriguez (16:32) placed 23rd, and senior Zachariah Smith (16:52) in 36th, junior Adam Zyrowski (17:04) in 50th and senior Jacob Garland (17:34) in 73rd all set new PR’s.
The Oxford Varsity girls team also ran admirably on this chilly day, placing seventh with 167 points. Junior Molly Long (19.18) missed 15th place by half a second, dashing her hopes for competing at States. Junior Kerstin Hufstedler (19:58) placed 31st while sophomore Maddie Lukens (20:01) and freshman Emma Long (20:07) both set new personal records placing 32nd and 38th respectively. Senior Ashley Vican (20:40) in 50th, senior Bridget Cusick (20:41) in 52nd and sophomore Paige Miller (21:29) in 68th completed the Wildcat varsity team.
The finish line of the JV boys race was chaotic and crowded. Sophomore Scott Masterson (17:10), a sub-2:00 800m runner, outkicked his competition placing first and setting a new PR. Sophomore Simon Arnold (17:33) placed fifth, junior Shane Moore (17:44) placed 10th with a new PR, and senior Joe Legault (18:29) placed 43rd. Senior Peter Bagans (18:47) set a new personal record by 30 seconds. Unfortunately, some of the times were unavailable but there were many strong finishes including junior Gibson Underwood who set a new personal record by over a minute.
The Oxford JV girls team “rocked it” as Petersimes remarked, placing second with 45 points behind Clarkston with 40 points. Sophomore Sarah Tyrrell (20:41) placed third, sophomore Antonia Vackaro (20:53) placed sixth, freshman Ellie DiMalanta (20:55.0) placed seventh, and sophomore Rachel Whitt (20:55.7) placed ninth. Sophomore Emily Boase-Brotzke (21:17) placed 20th blowing away her personal record by a minute. Nearly all of the JV girls set new personal records with exceptional performances including sophomore Emma Kerbelis (21:40), freshman Kayla Corrion (21:53) and junior Nadia Smith (22:10). Senior Jillian Senger (26:47) ran her last high school cross country meet with passion, setting a new personal best by 1 minute 46 seconds.
Assistant Coach Kieve Johnson said, “I am incredibly proud of these athletes! They have shown great perseverance and character as they have learned how to win humbly and lose graciously. They have done this all as a team. Both the men and the women have supported and encouraged each other from start to finish.”
Oxford athletes Dominic Bruce and Hunter Green will compete in the MHSAA State competition on Saturday, November 4 at the Michigan International Speedway.