The Grand Ledge girl’s cross country team traveled to the east side of the state to compete in the Lee Averill Invitational at Kensington Metro Park and the Comets put together a very solid performance finishing 5th place out of 19 teams competing.
“We’ve been coming to this race as a program for the last 20 years or so and if you can finish in the top 5 here, that usually means you’ve got a pretty good team and I think we have a good team that with focus, hard work and a little luck could be a great team, perhaps on of the best in the history of our school,” said an excited coach Fred Hutchinson. “The course we run for this race is certainly far and away the toughest we run all year long so it isn’t really a day to run fast times but it is a day to develop some toughness, to compete against teams we don’t often get to see from the east side of the state and to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for the really important races that lie ahead.”
The Comets were led by senior Claudia Baryo who finished 11th out of the 151 runner field and freshman up and comer Grace Buckland who finsished 12th overall only five seconds behind Baryo.
“Claudia and Grace will be able to give us some low numbers in almost every meet we compete at,” Hutchinson said. “I thought Claudia was tough on a day where she really didn’t have a great race but she is really developing a mental toughness that will really help her later this year and Buckland is just going to be a superb runner.”
The Comets also got really solid races from their 3rd-5th runners. Sophomores Megan Schafer and Courtney Hughes and Senior Hannah Schafer. “Megan and Courntey were tough today and both ran times that were at least a minute faster than last year. Hannah has been pretty sick this week but she ran an excellent race, being patient in the beginning and really picking up ground during the second and third miles of the race. I was so proud of Hannah today for competing well in less than ideal circumstances,” stated Hutchinson.
Freshman Brenda Duchene and Junior Ainsley Vanderlaan rounded out the varsity squad and turned in solid races as well. “Brenda has really been a pleasant surprise this season and Ainsley is relatively healthy for the first time in 3 years,” the veteran coach said. “I’m happy for both of them that at this point in the season, they have worked their way onto the varsity team.”
The Comet JV runners were also impressive.
“Sarah Padilla, Michaela Donahue, Kelsey Kehren, Ella Baryo and Elizabeth Verburg all could see some races at the varsity level this year as well. All are making good progress or have the potential to compete for varsity time,” said Hutchinson. “This is without question the deepest team I’ve ever coached which makes it a lot of fun, knowing that you have quality competitors who are hungry to improve . It pushes everyone to be better.”
The Comets compete at the MSU Invite on Friday Sept 15 at 1:15 PM at the Forest Akers East Golf Course.