Photo Credit: Lauren Fennema


Gainey Athletic Complex was the host to the annual Cougar Falcon Invite this past Saturday. Four divisions of teams of both boys and girls hit the ground running. A quick recap of all eight races:

Cougar Division-Boys

In the Cougar Division, the Portage Central Mustangs brought home the championship. They scored 55 points, which bested second place Spring Lake (74), third place West Ottawa (97), fourth place Mattawan (124) and fifth place Reeths-Puffer (133). Mona Shores (141), St Joseph (146), Gull Lake (162), GR Christian Team 2 (214) and Cadillac (246) were also in this ten-team cohort.

Koby Fraaza of Gull Lake won the individual title with a 15:54.8 finishing time. Ian Hill (16:18.5) and Callen Carrier (16:27.9) rounded out the top three with Spring Lake’s top two finishes. The victorious Mustangs were led by Tyler Brunner (16:34.0) and Thenuka Jayatilaka (16:52.9). Also placing in the top five was Reeths-Puffer’s Klay Grant (16:33.4) in fourth.


Eagle Division-Boys

The Caledonia Fighting Scots dominated the competition in their victory at Gainey on Saturday. With 38 points, they outpaced fellow top five schools Jenison (88), GR Christian (94), Forest Hills Central (99) and Forest Hills Northern (122). The back half of the standings had a tie for sixth place between Grandville (164) and Zeeland East (164), while Allendale (198), Forest Hills Eastern (219) and Coopersville (323) all ran a hard race.

Connor Vachon (16:01.8) of Jenison won the individual title by nearly five seconds. Team Champion Caledonia had three finishers in the top six as Jamin Thompson (16:06.3) finished second, Josh Oom (16:12.5) placed third, and Jordan Domany (16:23.9) was in that sixth position. Host Grand Rapids Christian had a pair of top ten individual finishes as Tinsae Nelson (16:16.5) took fifth and Ben Zwart (16:38.5) finished in ninth. Mitchell George of Forest Hills Northern was the other top five finisher in this race, as he earned fourth place with a 16:13.5


Falcon Division-Boys

The Hart Pirates narrowly emerged from the Falcon Division race with a victory. They had 66 points, while second place Saugatuck earned 67. Holland Christian (79), Berrien Springs (107) and Vicksburg (112) rounded out the top five. Grand Rapids Catholic Central (155), Reed City (155), Shepard (199), Ludington (222) and West Catholic (240) also were racing to the finish in this one.

Saugatuck’s second place finish was spearheaded by the top two overall finishers, Max Shamas (16:06.3) and Nik Pettinga (16:13.0), as well as ninth place Adam Martinson (17:22.0). The Hart Pirates had three runners place in the top seven, as Alex Enns (16:43.6) was fourth, Spencer Vander Zwaag (17:10.6) was sixth, and Clayton Ackley (17:15.5) was seventh. Ashton Sheline (16:47.3) of Berrien Springs rounded out the top racers with his fifth-place performance.


Gainey Division-Boys

In the Gainey Division, McBain was a runaway winner. They had 35 points, edging out the other seven schools. Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart was closest with 74 points, while Delton Kellogg (88), Potters House (96), GRTC Peregrines (117), Fennville (129). GRCC Team 2 (178) and GR Christian Team 3 (180) tried to keep pace.

Connor Murphy of McBain outpaced the competition with a 16:45.9. Brock Lynch (16:49.2) of Sacred Heart, Moses Osterink (17:02.2) of Potter’s House, Matthew Nowak (17:10.7) of Sacred Heart and Kadin Eastway (17:58.9) of McBain rounded out the top five. Kyle Pylkas (18:04.1) in seventh and Blake Whetstone (18:19.2) in ninth rounded out the champion’s top finishers.


Cougar Division-Girls

The West Ottawa Panthers won the Cougar Division race on the girls side as they had 45 points. Cadillac (69), Portage Central (92), Spring Lake (129), and St Joseph (149) finished in the top five, while GR Christian Team 2 (150), Mattawan (181), Mona Shores (190), Reeths Puffer (208) and Gull Lake (228) struggled to keep pace.

Placing three of their racers in the top four was the major reason West Ottawa won by such a large margin. Arianne Olson (18:14.8) won the individual race by over one minute over Portage Central’s Ellie Voetberg (19:15.5). Sophie Bonnema (19:42.0) and Abby Bonnema (19:43.1) were the next two finishers to earn valuable points for West Ottawa. Second-place Cadillac got a fifth-place finish out of Kendall Schopieray (19:45.9), while Spring Lake had Lily Parker (19:47.7) and Nora Boufford (19:47.9) finish side-by-side in sixth and seventh.


Eagle Division-Girls

Grand Rapids Christian won the Eagle Division of their own meet, as they team earned 57 points. They won by twenty-three over Forest Hills Central (80), who had created separation themselves from Jenison (99), Forest Hills Northern (100) and Caledonia (113). Zeeland East (143) and Allendale (144) finished slightly ahead of Forest Hills Eastern (150), who had a comfortable margin over Coopersville (236).

Ciara James-Heer (18:04.5) of FHC won the overall race by eleven seconds over Madelyn Frens (18:15.7) from GR Christian. The Eagles also had top ten finishes from Natalie VanOtteren (19:17.1) and Olivia Waalkes (19:49.6). Despite finishing in last, Coopersville saw Jamie Lipecky turn in a sixth-place individual performance with a 19:17.5. Allison Cornell (18:58.9) led FHN with her third-place performance, Maya Guikema (19:21.2) led Jenison as she finished seventh, Sarah Dixon (19:21.8) paced FHE with her eighth-place showing, and Tatum Verburg (19:59.5) placed eleventh for Caledonia.


Falcon Division-Girls

The Hart Pirates completed the Falcon division sweep after they won both the boys and girls titles. The Pirates scored 28 points in the girls race, defeating Shepard by thirteen. These two had the top six finishers and eight of the top nine, creating separation from the rest of the pack. West Catholic (132) led the second wave, while Holland Christian (134), Saugatuck (144), GR Catholic Central (157), Vicksburg (161), Ludington (178) and Reed City (182) trailed behind.

Hart had the four fastest racers on the track, and that started with Alyson Enns (18:54.8). Savannah Ackley (19:10.2), Audrianna Enns (19:31.7) and Lynae Ackley (20:05.2) rounded out the top four. Shepherd had strong races from Ariel Warner (20:28.2), Maddie Skeel (20:33.6), Amelia Gouin (20:46.5) and Carly Judge (21:15.7). The only racer not from Hart or Shepherd in the top nine was GRCC’s Emily Tomes (20:41.2) in seventh place. Maggie Duba rounded out the top ten with her 21:19.6 for West Catholic, while Emma Kern (21:26.7) from Holland Christian and Sawyer Barton (21:40.1) from Vicksburg led their school’s efforts.


Gainey Division-Girls

Much like the Falcon, the Gainey Division was won by McBain in both races. They earned 33 points in the girls race, placing them thirteen points ahead of Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (46). GRTC Peregrines (82), GR Christian Team 3 (84), Potters House (119), West Catholic Team 2 (162) and Fennville (163) finished in consecutive order behind the leaders.

Maggie O’Malley nearly became the only racer in this event to break twenty minutes (20:01.1) while Jana Stiffler (20:35.0) of GRTC Peregrines took second. After Reese Ensing’s third place performance for McBain (20:58.9), Sacred Heart had four straight finishers. Delaney Scully (22:11.6), Riley Hacker (22:14.6), Olivia Ervin (22:21.9) and Lily Deja (22:30.9) all turned in tremendous efforts on the course. Esther Cole (23:14.7) led Potters House when she finished ninth, and Angelica Mendoza (23:31.0) was Fennville’s leader with her twelfth place performance.