By winning the Bret Clements Bath Invitational Saturday, the Saline varsity boys’ cross country term served notice that they’re a contender for the state title.
(Photos by Ginger Liemohn)
The Hornets placed five runners in the top 12 to easily win the 13-team “class 1” meet. Saline finished with 40 points. Rockford was second at 92 and Northville was third at 102.
Coach Carl Spina said that winning the meet is a fun way to start the season. But it was not unexpected. The Hornets brought back most of a team that finished sixth in the state last year.
“A few of those returners had very good track seasons, so we knew we would be able to run with the best this fall. And then we had the development of Josh Cook and Jevin Nishioka in the spring. Those two were on the team last fall, but they are already a minute or more ahead of where they used to be,” Spina said. “That's not the kind of progress you plan for a kid. It's just a lot more progress than a coach would expect for a kid to make in 12 months.”
The fastest Hornet was senior Aidan Carichner, who finished fourth in a personal-best time of 16:21.1. His previous best was 16:39 – set at the state meet and Portage last year. Carichner often led the race while battling with Rockford’s Cole Johnson, a 4:10 miler who won the race in 16:00.
“I'm not sure anyone would think Aidan Carichner had any business doing that, but Aidan doesn't know any better. He was just trying to do his best for his team,” Spina said. “Coaching a kid like that is easy. He's highly invested, has a little bit of talent, and he knows a lot about how to run and race, but he still knows it comes down to beating as many people as possible.”
Sophomore Jevin Nishioka was sixth in 16:24.7 and junior Anthony DeKraker was seventh in 16:26.1. Joshua Cook was 11th in 16:44.7 and Evan Koerschner was 12th in 16:46.8, completing the Hornet scoring.
Aidan Delfuoco was 20th in 17:11.4. Connor Meehan was 30th in 17:23.4.
Spina said the victory bodes well for Saline.
“Any year you can win at Bath is a year you will be in conversations for the state title. The meet is not huge, but the teams there are storied programs like Northville and Rockford. I think we have a lot in common with those programs in terms of consistent productivity at the state level. Finishing 50+ points ahead of those programs is a pretty big deal for anyone,” Spina said. “The boys also posted some very impressive times, especially for the conditions, so we feel good about where we will end up on Nov. 5.”
Ann Arbor Running Company 3 Stars
- Aidan Carichner – The senior captain set the tone for the Hornets. He went out hard and challenged the best runner in the race. He was the fastest Hornet and had the best XC race of his career.
- Jevin Nishioka – The sophomore wiped nearly a minute of his personal best. He’s posting some of the best sophomore times in program history.
- Anthony DeKraker – The junior ran a solid race for the Hornets.