Morehouse punches ticket to MHSAA cross-country state final
CENTRAL LAKE — Johannesburg runner Samantha Morehouse was the only Division 4 cross-country runner from Otsego County on Friday to punch a ticket to this year's state final.
The junior raced in the MHSAA D4 regional at Jean Burns' Farm in Central Lake and placed seventh individually while finishing the 5,000-meter course in 21:15.4 — a career best time that puts her seventh in her school's record books.
While the Cardinals didn't qualify as a team, Morehouse will race as an individual in the MHSAA D4 state final Saturday, Nov. 1 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn.
Also headed to MIS, Harbor Springs (21 points) won the girls race and qualified as a team, followed by Inland Lakes (68) and Rogers City (84) as the other teams that advanced.
J-L (136) placed fifth as a team, while St. Mary (171) finished sixth.
J-L junior Hannah Donajkowski (23:39.5) helped the Morehouse-led Cardinals by taking 30th, and freshman Alyssa Bartle (31st, 23:33.4), junior Samantha Baganz (46th, 24:54.7) and junior Brianne Kennedy (62nd, 26:36.5) rounded out team scoring.
Senior Kelsey Hardy (63rd, 26:36.9) and sophomore Anika Kierczynski (68th, 28:34.9) finished the race as well.
St. Mary junior Katie Rutkowski (23:12.1) led her team by placing 23rd, while freshman Alex Hunter (42nd, 24:27.4), senior Savannah Sullivan (52nd, 25:50.6), junior Allie Rutkowski (57th, 26:12.5, personal record) and sophomore Gabby Schultz (58th, 26:25.9) helped in team scoring.
Junior Giorgi Nowicki (64th, 26:58.2) and senior Natalie Burzynski (67th, 27:54.4) also finished for the Snowbirds.
Harbor Springs (50), Fairview (111) and Ellsworth (126) finished 1-2-3 and each qualified for states as a team during the boys race.
St. Mary (205) placed 10th, and J-L (276) was 12th.
St. Mary junior Levi Milan (23rd, 18:46.1) narrowly missed qualifying as an individual.
Freshman Brendan Delaney (31st, 18:57.2), sophomore Ian Milan (43rd, 19:42.8, PR), sophomore Nathan Smith (60th, 20:55.4) and junior John Paul Zielinski (64th, 21:21.5) also assisted Levi Milan.
Freshman James Pandy (65th, 21:34.3) and senior John Paul Kole (68th, 22:15.5) also completed the race.
J-L freshmen Nathan Idalski (39th, 19:17.0), Nathan Lawrence (52nd, 20:15.9), T.J. Long (61st, 20:57.9), Tyler Helzer (70th, 22:27.9) and senior Dimitri Capers (73rd, 22:45.1) scored enough points for J-L to place as a team, while freshman Danny Mackowiak (74th, 22:48.3) also finished.
The race marked the end of the season for both the Cardinals and Snowbirds.
Johannesburg-Lewiston's Samantha Morehouse proves ulcerative colitis, competition no match
JOHANNESBURG — Johannesburg-Lewiston runner Samantha Morehouse's battle with ulcerative colitis, a chronic large intestine disease, wasn't enough to slow down the junior this cross-country season.
Morehouse, who has battled the disorder since the seventh grade, spent 13 days in the hospital on bowel rest after suffering a flare up in late August. There she received care and was put on steroids to help correct her body's abnormal response to her immune system.
With Morehouse in the hospital, she missed two weeks of team training, a pair of cross-country meets and the first two days of school. Instead of easing back into the sport, however, she hit the ground running — literally — and competed in the Charlevoix Mud Run after only two practices following her hospital stay.
It was the first step in her valiant comeback to athletics this fall.
"I took a couple of days off and missed the first two days of school," said Morehouse, who also runs track and plays basketball. "I waited a couple of days before I started running again, and I missed the Ryan Shay invite in Central Lake and another in East Jordan.
"I was about three weeks behind my teammates when I finally ran my first race because they started practice when I was in the hospital."
Morehouse raced through the Charlevoix slop in 31:08 and finished 96th individually, but as the season progressed, her times started to shrink each meet.
Seven days later, she placed 41st (27:16) in the Ellsworth House on the Hill Invitational and 10 days after racing in Ellsworth, she finished 15th (22:31) in the Inland Lakes Bulldog Invite. The more she raced, the more her 13 days of hospital care proved to help her performance.
But it was her outing in the Ski Valley Cross-Country Championships on Oct. 8 that caught the eye of fans and opposing coaches. In the 5,000-meter race hosted by Central Lake, she finished in 22:21 and placed fifth individually to earn First Team All-Conference honors from the league.
Not to be outdone by her conference accolade, she took third (21:56) in the Fairview Leroy Maxie Memorial Invitational on Oct. 11.
"In Fairview, she finished third overall and was leading the race for over a mile," J-L coach Craig DeHoog said. "She's really come on this season, and it's hard to explain. She pushes herself like crazy. I haven't had to push her at all, but she says this is the first time she feels healthy and isn't tired or lacking energy."
Morehouse rounded out the regular season with another impressive performance, this time finishing 36th (21:57) in the Northern Michigan Cross-Country Championship Rotary Invitational hosted by Gaylord last Saturday. That meet features 40 of the best teams from the Division 1 and 2 ranks, including state-ranked programs and individual runners who will likely run collegiately.
Competing at the next level may be something in store for Morehouse, who comes from a family of distance runners. While her cousin ran at Western Michigan University and her grandfather, father, aunt and uncle have also had great success, it's her two brothers, Andrew and Steven, she is currently chasing.
Andrew Morehouse set the J-L school record for best 5,000-meter time (17:14.3) when he finished 55th in the 2012 D4 state final as a junior. The previous school record (19:03.9) was set by Steven Morehouse in a D4 regional in 2010 at Ellsworth.
"My whole family has been runners, and they're all really fast," Morehouse said. "Now that I'm older, it hits me that I'm working hard in practice and practicing as hard as they did. In practice, I'm doing eight miles a day in three mile intervals with one mile breaks. At the meets, I'm just getting out fast and keeping pace. I'm going out there and running fast."
With the regular season over, the Cards hope Morehouse's drive will help them in the Division 4 regional at 3 p.m. today (Friday) at Jean Burns' Farm in Central Lake.
They're a long shot to qualify for the state final as a team, but Morehouse could qualify individually and have her three-month rise to the top come full circle.
"As a team, I don't know if we can qualify in the regional," DeHoog said. "But I'm hoping Sam can make it as an individual into the state final at regionals. She's a really good kid, has a good attitude and is a nice girl. She's gone from being in the hospital to being our best runner, and that's been quite the story.
"If she can make it to states, that'd be an even more amazing story."
Ski Valley Cross-Country Championships: Johannesburg-Lewiston's
CENTRAL LAKE — Johannesburg-Lewiston's Samantha Morehouse stood out as the best runner in Otsego County during Wednesday's Ski Valley Conference Championships at Jean Burns' Farm in Central Lake.
The junior finished fifth overall (22:27.9) in the girls 5,000-meter cross-country race, a good enough time to be tabbed All-Conference by the league and named the only First Team runner in the county.
Also competing at the championships, St. Mary had four individual racers earn All-Conference honors.
Junior Levi Milan (eighth overall, 18:54.0) and freshman Brendan Delaney (ninth, 18:56.8) were named All-Conference Second Team for placing in the top 10 of the boys race, while junior Katie Rutkowski (13th, 23:42.2) and freshman Alex Hunter (14th, 23:43.2) were tabbed as Honorable Mentions for placing in the top 15 of the girls race.
St. Mary (68) placed third as a team in the girls race, followed by J-L (70). Indian River Inland Lakes (23) won the meet, and Onaway (67) narrowly edged the Snowbirds to place second.
In the boys race, St. Mary (76) placed fourth overall as a team, while J-L didn't have enough runners to qualify for a finish. Onaway (51) won the race, followed by Mancelona (56) and Inland Lakes (62). Pellston (76) finished fifth.
Also racing for the Snowbirds boys team, sophomore Ian Milan (19:57.7) placed 16th and missed being named Honorable Mention by 12 seconds.
St. Mary received help from sophomore Noah Kole (24th, 20:57.4), sophomore Nathan Smith (26th, 21:05.2), junior John Paul Zielinski (28th, 21:34.9), freshman James Pandy (30th, 22:17.1), senior John Kole (31st, 22:42.9), freshman Andrew Makarewicz (36th, 23:47.4), sophomore Nick Torsky (38th, 24:16.7), eighth-grader Jude Kole (40th, 25:17.2), junior Matt Makarewicz (33rd, 25:51.1) and eighth-grader Kyle Brown (35th, 30:17.3).
In the girls race, St. Mary seventh-grader Emma Cherry (24:50.4) placed 20th, followed by senior McKenna Roberts (22nd, 24:53.8), junior Giorgi Nowicki (31st, 26:32.1), sophomore Gabby Schultz (32nd, 27:10.7), junior Allie Rutkowski (33rd, 27:28.9) and senior Natalie Burzynski (34th, 27:34.4).
Leading J-L in the boys race, freshman T.J. Long (20:45.4) placed 22nd, followed by freshman Nathan Lawrence (29th, 21:44.3), freshman Danny Mackowiak (34th, 23:20.3) and freshman Tyler Helzer (39th, 28:18.4).
Helping J-L in the girls race, junior Hannah Donajkowski (23:37.7) took 17th, followed by junior Samantha Baganz (23rd, 24:49.4), freshman Alyssa Bartle (28th, 26:20.7), junior Brianne Kennedy (29th, 26:23.4), junior Savannah Walter (38th, 29:41.2), sophomore Anika Kierczynski (41st, 30:31.8) and freshman Abigail Townsend (31:41.2).
St. Mary and J-L also competed in an invitational on Thursday, Oct. 2, at Mancelona High.
The Snowbirds placed sixth overall as a team in the boys race, led by Levi Milan (16th, 18:58), Delaney (18th, 19:03), Ian Milan (39th, 20:46), Noah Kole (46th, 21:14) and Smith (47th, 21:17). While Charlevoix won the meet, Pandy (52nd, 21:44) and John Paul Kole (55th, 23:20) also helped the Snowbirds.
St. Mary took seventh in the girls race, and Grand Traverse Academy won the invitational. Katie Rutkowski (24:05) paced the Snowbirds by placing 37th, followed by Hunter (39th, 24:10), Cherry (40th, 24:11), Schultz (59th, 26:27), Savannah Sullivan (60th, 26:43), Allie Rutkowski (62nd, 27:05) and Burzynski (65th, 27:28).
St. Mary's Jude Kole (23:15), Andrew Makarewicz (24:12), Matt Makarewicz (25:59) and Brown (29:28) helped the junior varsity boys team.
Competing in the boys race for J-L, Long (21:01) placed 42nd, followed by Lawrence (59th, 22:25), Dimitri Capers (60th, 22:3), Mackowiak (23:42) and Helzer (70th, 24:07).
Morehouse (22:31) helped J-L's girls team with a 15th-place finish, followed by Bartle (48th, 25:15), Kennedy (54th, 26:05), Kelsey Hardy (58th, 26:23), Baganz (61st, 26:53) and Walter (78th, 36:37).
First Team All-Conference
Joe Traynham, Onaway
Garrett Robinson, Pellston
Jacob Dragowski, Inland Lakes
Morgan McLean, Onaway
Garrison Dawson, Bellaire
Second Team All-Conference
Quentin Genaw, Mancelona
Riley Henderson, Mancelona
Levi Milan, St. Mary
Brendan Delaney, St. Mary
Zach Prell, Pellston
Brendon Morris, Mancelona
Seth Satchwell, Onaway
Luke Passino, Inland Lakes
Dale Anderson, Inland Lakes
Brandon Dicus, Inland Lakes
Colleen Randolph, Bellaire
Lexi Passino, Inland Lakes
Leighton Koepke, Bellaire
Claire Bastian, Onaway
Samantha Morehouse, J-L
Ainsley MacLean, Pellston
Carrissa Boni, Central Lake
Sophie Passino, Inland Lakes
Olivia Tremonti, Bellaire
Mackenzie Baxter, Inland Lakes
Lindsay Smeltzer, Inland Lakes
Mackenzie Harrington, Inland Lakes
Katie Rutkowski, St. Mary
Alex Hunter, St. Mary
Amber Harrington, Mancelona
Idalski leads J-L at East Jordan cross-country invitational
EAST JORDAN — Johannesburg-Lewiston freshman Nathan Idalski finished in 19:33 during a cross-country invitational Wednesday in East Jordan.
Idalski's time helped the Cardinals finish ninth as a team.
Junior Hannah Donajkowski posted a mark of 25:08 to lift the girls team to seventh place.
Dimitri Capers (23:43), Tyler Helzer (24:38), T.J. Long (25:19), Nathan Lawrence (25:58) and Danny Mackowiak (28:38) also helped the boys team, while Samantha Baganz (27:04), Bre Kennedy (27:07), Kelsey Hardy (27:53), Anika Kierczynski (31:03) and Savannah Walter (35:43) placed for the girls team.
J-L, along with St. Mary, competes in the Charlevoix Mud Run on Saturday, Sept. 6.
JOHANNESBURG — Craig DeHoog takes over for Kevin Kennedy as the new cross-country coach at Johannesburg-Lewiston.
DeHoog brings a wealth of running experience to the program as both a distance runner himself and as a coach. In the past few years, he’s coached the J-L middle school cross-country and track and field teams. Now the school expects him take the baton from an area coaching icon in Kennedy.
“I really enjoy the sport of running,” DeHoog said. “I’m here to show the kids that they can enjoy running as a group by doing things like goal setting and chit chatting. It’s boring to run by yourself, and cross-country is a sport where you can compete and run along with your friends.”
While DeHoog’s numbers are low this season, he does have a couple of runners who have competed well in the Ski Valley Conference in recent history. He also has a couple of incoming high school runners who have already recorded admirable times this season.
One of those early performers is freshman Nathan Idalski. In Central Lake’s Ryan Shay Memorial on Aug. 23, Idalski placed 13th overall (12:17) in what was his first varsity race. He followed that up by running in East Jordan’s 5,000-meter invitational in 19:33 on Wednesday.
Danny Mackowiak, Nathan Lawrence and T.J. Long join Idalski as J-L’s other freshmen runners this fall.
“We’re a very young team with five freshmen who really work hard,” DeHoog said. “They’re led by Nathan Idalski who ran extremely well last year as an eighth-grader.”
Senior Dimitri Capers enters 2014 as the most experienced runner on the boys team. As a junior last season, he finished the Ryan Shay Memorial with a personal record for 3,200 meters (14:55.6).
“We’re looking to senior Dimitri Capers for leadership and to have a good season running,” DeHoog said.
On the girls team, junior Hannah Donajkowski enters as the top returner. She placed 33rd overall in J-L’s first meet (17:09.6, 3,200 meters) this season and brings experience as a Division 4 state finalist.
Sophomores Savannah Walter and Anika Kierczynski, junior Sam Morehouse and senior Bre Kennedy add even more depth behind Donajkowski as runners who also compete on J-L’s track and field team.
“We have a nice group of juniors, including Hannah Donajkowski who is really running well already,” DeHoog said. “We also have leadership from seniors Bre Kennedy and Kelsey Hardy.”
With two invitational's already under their belts, the Cardinals run next in the Charlevoix Mud Run on Saturday before competing in the Ellsworth House on the Hill race Saturday, Sept. 13. They have nine more races to run this season, giving them plenty of time during the regular season to prepare for both the regional and state final meets.
DeHoog expects his team’s work ethic to carry them throughout those nine races.
“The team is working very hard already and are covering a lot of miles,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a strong season. Personally, I’m excited to be coaching and running along with the kids. They’re a great group and the future looks bright as well with the middle school kids we have, too.”
Bebble, Idalski race past competition in cross-country opener
CENTRAL LAKE — St. Mary four-sport athlete Averi Bebble injured her hip during volleyball practice earlier this week.
After she sat out cross-country practice Thursday, it was unknown if she could run in Saturday's Ryan Shay Memorial Invitational. So not only did she run in it, she placed fourth (14:08) and amazed spectators watching her wince and gallop around the Jean Burns Family Homested's two-mile course in Central Lake.
"I didn't expect her to do this well with a hip injury today," St. Mary coach Richard Goepp said. "I told her to take it easy today, but she never takes it easy. She always goes hard. I told her to just go out easy and see how her hip feels."
Bebble said her hip gave her pain, but it wasn't enough to slow the freshman down, as she helped the Snowbirds place fifth at the meet.
"I struggled in the back near the sandy part," Bebble said. "I could have done better. I think I could have gotten at least third place. I would have beaten the Indian River girl (Lexi Passino, 14:04) if my hip didn't hurt. She sprinted past me right there (near the finish line) and I couldn't sprint after her."
Katie Rutkowski (28th, 16:23), Alex Hunter (29th, 16:38) and Giorgi Nowicki (30th, 16:40) also finished in the top 30.
Leading the boys team, junior Levi Milan ran 12:10 to place ninth individually. Noah Kole (34th, 13:35) and Nathan Smith (39th, 13:57) finished in the top 40, giving the Snowbirds enough points to place fifth overall.
"Every runner got in on a hot day, so I was excited about that," Goepp added. "I saw a couple of nice finishes by the guys that I didn't anticipate. I didn't know where they were going to finish coming into today.
"On the girls side, we had three girls who had never run a race before (Nowicki, Hunter and Allie Rutkowski). I thought they went out way too hard but looked great at the 1 1/2 mile. They finished strong, and I was happy we got five in to score as a team, too."
St. Mary runs next in the Charlevoix Mud Run at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.
Johannesburg-Lewiston freshman Nathan Idalski's goal Saturday was to finish in the top 20 among Division 4 runners.
He achieved that goal after logging 12:17 and finishing 13th to help the boys team place 10th overall. To achieve that mark, he took advantage of shaded running areas. However, the course's sharp, 90-degree loops near the finish line almost kept him outside the top 20.
"I took it easy in the shade but over there in the sun, I pushed myself harder and focused on finishing the race," he said. "The hardest part of the race was definitely the loop. In the loop, you can see the finish line but you still have another 1/2 mile to go. It's hard to keep your pace in the loop."
Although Saturday was his first varsity meet, it was a learning experience Idalski will benefit from.
"I think with this being Nathan's first varsity meet, I think he learned some things toward the end like finishing strong," J-L first-year coach Craig DeHoog said. "He thinks he can do a better job than what he did.
"In the end, he set that goal and met it. That's a good first race for him."
J-L junior Hannah Donajkowski and sophomore Sam Baganz pushed the girls team to an eighth-place finish. Donajkowski (17:09) placed 33rd, while Baganz (17:27) was 34th.
"Hannah has a great work ethic and has become a leader for the girls team," DeHoog said. "She works super hard all of the time, and all the girls really pushed themselves."
While he watched his team race, DeHoog said he found areas where each runner can improve. He hopes the Cardinals can make those fixes before running in their next invitational Wednesday, Aug. 27 in East Jordan.
"I think all the kids worked hard, did as best as they could and now have some good things to work on in practice before the next meet," he said. "Those things include working on our pace, the start and coming out of the shoot in the beginning. A lot of our kids haven't done much with starting races."
4. Averi Bebble (St. Mary), 14:08
28. Katie Rutkowski (St. Mary), 16:23
29. Alex Hunter (St. Mary), 16:38
30. Giorgi Nowicki (St. Mary), 16:40
33. Hannah Donajkowski (J-L), 17:09
34. Samantha Baganz (J-L), 17:27
43. Kelsey Hardy (J-L), 18:43
44. Samantha Hipsher (J-L), 18:48
47. Allie Rutkowski (St. Mary), 19:01
52. Rebecca Cooper (North Trails), 19:35
54. Anika Kierczynski (J-L), 19:46
57. Savannah Walter (J-L), 23:57
63. Mikaela Funderberg (North Trails), 21:07
9. Levi Milan (St. Mary), 12:10
13. Nathan Idalski (J-L), 12:17
22. Elijah Bragg (North Trails), 12:55
34. Noah Kole (St. Mary), 13:35
37. Isaiah Bragg (North Trails), 13:47
39. Nathan Smith (St. Mary), 13:57
42. Seth Sturtevant (North Trails), 14:08
43. Tom Derengowski (North Trails), 14:10
45. Nick Torsky (St. Mary), 14:14
46. John Paul Zielinski (St. Mary), 14:20
48. Tyler Helzer (J-L) 14:47
53. T.J. Long (J-L), 15:32
54. Thomas Goode (North Trails), 15:39
59. Andrew Makarewicz (St. Mary), 15:58
60. Nathan Lawrence (J-L), 16:07
61. John Kole (St. Mary), 16:13
64. Danny MacKoviak (J-L), 16:26
67. Ben Miner (North Trails), 17:46
2014 J-L CROSS COUNTRY TEAM