STEPHENSON — The Stephenson boys cross country team had four runners finish in the top-10 at Wednesday’s Skyline Conference finals meet as the Eagles retained their title by 11 points over Rapid River at Dale Fountain Cross Country Course.
“Rapid River has a great team and we have been close all season, but we ran without one of our top runners, Ethyn Lusardi, the last few weeks, and he was able to go today and that helped us secure first place. Even though he didn’t have his best, having him back really helped,” Stephenson coach Kate Kuntze said. “The rest of the boys team all ran personal bests today on their home course which is exciting.”
Leading the way for Stephenson was Griffin Brown who finished in third with a time of 19 minutes, 24 seconds; just two seconds behind second place Nick Singer of Munising. Buckley Corey finished 22 seconds behind Brown in fourth place (19:46.6) and just over a minute later, Tyler Engel crossed the finish line in 20:54.5 for seventh and Donny Strazzinski came across a second later in eighth (20:55.8).
Just missing out on a top-10 finish was Ehtyn Lusardi who took 11th, 10 seconds behind Munising’s Kane Nebel. Lusardi’s 11th-place finish gave Stephenson a team score of 33 and locked up the team title for the Eagles for the second-straight year.
Next to finish was Gavin Corey in 21st (23:25.3) and Noah Williams in 22nd (26:14.0).
In the girls race, Stephenson knew it was going up against a tough team in Munising, but the Eagles were determined for a top-two finish and they prevailed, beating out Mid-Peninsula by nine points to take second with a team score of 57. Munising won with 33.
“We knew Munising was going to be tough to beat, but we were happy to pull away with second plus almost all of the girls ran their personal bests,” Kuntze said.
Kylee Kuntze led the Eagles much like she did all season with her fifth-place finish (22:55.2), and next up was Kayela Putnam who crossed the finish line in 11th (24:29.8).
“Kayela had her breakout run today,” coach Kuntze said. “All season I felt like she was holding back but I liked how today she went out a little faster on the first mile and was able to hold it.”
Coming across the line in 14th was Jada Kuntze (24:45.7), Kara Solander was 15th (25:27.5), Evalyn Labs took 16th (26:20.7) and Joelle Beaudo finished the string of four straight Eagles with her 17th-place finish (27:06.8). Brette Starzynski was final Eagle to cross in 23rd (28:34.0).
In JV action, Hunter Marks took second in the three-person boys race with a time of 25:55.8, and the only three runners of the girls JV race were from Stephenson as Peyton Cole (28:00.9) finished first, followed by Morgan Bergquist (28:38.6) and Layla Engel (29:09.7).
In the shortened girls middle school race, Faith Cappaert finished second (16:42.8), Madalynn Vista was fourth (16:57.7), Lillian Revall was 19th (20:29.1) and Addison Olson was 20th (21:24.6). On the boys side, Trevor Verba came in eighth (15:11.8) and Canon Kuntze was seventh (16:27.4). All top-10 finishers on both sides received medals.
Next up for Stephenson is U.P. Finals on Saturday, Oct. 24 in Munising.
Team scores (boys): Stephenson 33, Rapid River 42, Munising 54, Norway 89
Top 10: 1 — Ishmael Hernandez, RR, 18:40; 2 — Nick Singer, MUN, 19:22; 3 — Griffin Brown, STEPH, 19:24.9; 4 — Buckley Corey, STEPH, 19:46.6; 5 — Larson Nebel, MUN, 20:34.5; 6 — Max Lenaker, RR, 20:44.6; 7 — Tyler Engel, STEPH, 20:54.5; 8 — Donny Strazzinski, STEPH, 20:55.8; 9 — Ben Lenaker, RR; 21:05.4; 10 — Kane Nebel, MUN, 21:07.3.
Team scores (girls): Munising 33, Stephenson 57, Mid-Pen 66, Superior Central 84, Rapid River 101
Top 10: 1 — Daisy Englund, M-P, 21:38.6; 2 — Hattie Cota, MUN, 22:25.3; 3 — Monique Brisson, MUN, 22:26.4; 4 — Landry Koski, M-P, 22:40.2; 5 — Kylee Kunzte, STEPH, 22:55.2; 6 — Taylor Adams, NOR, 23:16.5; 7 — Madisen Begovac, S-C, 23:17.0; 8 — Taylor Vanoss, RR, 23:44.5; 9 — Julia Prunick, MUN, 23:49.9; 10 — Sabryna Smith, MUN, 24:24.5.