By Barbara Read / For WLD
The Dexter Men’s XC team finished in second place (56 points) narrowly behind Brighton (50) at Regionals on Saturday and qualified for the state finals on Nov. 2 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. If both teams ran exactly the same race next week at the state finals, Dexter would be the new state champion.
Cross Country teams win by position in the race, not by individual time, and Dexter’s tight top five lineup has the advantage for the finals.
At the D1 Regionals in DeWitt on Friday, the Dexter men’s team placed three runners in the top 15 spots with the final two scoring runners coming in side-by-side less than 15 seconds later. This matters because every runner “scores” his place at the finish line. The scores of the top five runners on the team are added together for the team score. The closer the runners finish, and the fewer competing runners get in between them, the lower the team scores.
Owen Huard and Nathan Larson finished in third and sixth places. Seth Read and Liam Buller finished in 14th and 16th places. And Conor Kolka finished in 17th place a full 17 seconds faster than Brighton’s fifth man who landed in 22nd place.
The five point difference at Regionals can stretch to 40 or more points at the state finals in proportion to the high number of elite runners in the competition. At the state meet where the best runners are winnowed down to an incredibly tight field, as many as 150 of the best runners can finish within 2 minutes of each other.
Five strong runners are needed to win the state finals in cross country. After losing junior Sam Melvin to an injury early this season, regionals and the state meet have been in some question, but Owen Huard, Nathan Larson, Seth Read, Liam Buller, Conor Kolka, and Finn Bell have worked to fill the gap and put Dexter in prime position to run the race of their dreams. Newcomer to varsity Nathan Gariepy will join them on Saturday and Masanari Kimura will attend as the team alternate.
If their Regional performance is any indication, and the team stays hungry, these boys will have strong individual races at the state meet, and quite possibly bring home the state title.
Come cheer the Dexter XC team on at 3:30pm on Saturday at the Michigan International Speedway. Earlier in the afternoon, Sophia Grant will represent Dexter (2:10pm), and in between the two races, catch the Chelsea Men’s team in their D2 Finals. Admission is $8.00/person
Dexter’s Regional Results
- Owen Huard, 15:28.8
- Nathan Larson, 15:42.1
- Seth Read, 16:10.5
- Liam Buller, 16:24.1
- Conor Kolka, 16:24.9
- Finn Bell, 16:40.8 (PR)
- Nathan Gariepy, 17:15.5