Second Half Reports
BROOKLYN – Moving down a division helped, but there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work.
So, even though Cass City junior CarLee Stimpfel was racing runners from smaller schools, it was still his personal improvement that put him in a position to win the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 4 cross country championship Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Stimpfel finished the 3.1-mile course in 16:02.7, beating Harbor Springs sophomore Jeremy Kloss by 9.8 seconds.
A year ago, Stimpfel missed all-state in Division 3 by three places, taking 33rd in 16:48.1. As a freshman, he was 72nd in Division 3 in 17:20.3.
“I was kind of bummed, getting three places away from all-state,” Stimpfel said. “I knew I had to train. I trained all summer. We got moved down to D4. I guess it was to my advantage.”
Saturday’s time was his fastest by far at MIS, but nowhere near his personal best. He ran 15:39.4 on Oct. 1 at the Wagener Park Invitational. Even though he ran in the first race of the day, the course was already muddy down the final stretch from rain earlier in the week.
“Honestly, I was hoping to go for Tec Adams’ state record,” Stimpfel said. “It wasn’t going to happen today.”
Adams set the Division 4 record for the MIS course with a time of 15:22.4 in 2008.
Stimpfel hit the mile mark in 5:00 and the two-mile in 10:16, holding a four-second lead at both splits. He wasn’t sure if that lead would hold up as he made his way down the interminably long final stretch at MIS.
“I was a little nervous,” he said. “I looked back a couple times. I didn’t know how far I had on him. I was hoping I would finish strong and get across. It’s not every day you can be state champion; that’s pretty sweet.”
In the team race, top-ranked Pewamo-Westphalia won its first MHSAA boys cross country championship since Pewamo High School was the Class C-D champion in 1959 by a 131-144 margin over Harbor Springs. Bear Lake/Onekama was third at 181.
As was the case for Stimpfel, Pewamo-Westphalia moved down to Division 4 from Division 3. The Pirates were sixth in Division 4 in 2013 before taking 18th in both 2014 and 2015 in Division 3.
Senior Bryce Thelen is the lone holdover from that sixth-place team. He was the team’s leading runner and fifth in the team race with a time of 16:43.2.
Pewamo-Westphalia won on the strength of a strong pack behind Thelen, with only six team-race places and 9.9 seconds separating the Pirates’ No. 2 and No. 5 runners.
Sophomore Mitch Nurenberg was 29th (17:18.6), senior Brock Simon was 30th (17:19.4), sophomore Kyle Hengesbach was 32nd (17:21.3) and junior Trent Barker was 35th (17:28.5).
Harbor Springs had three runners cross before the Pirates’ No. 2 runner, but had to score a 41st and a 66th place.
Bear Lake/Onekama had two runners in the top 10 of the team race, but scored three runners in the 50s.
The MHSAA Cross Country Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard.
PHOTOS: (Top) Cass City’s CarLee Stimpfel drives the final stretch on the way to the Division 4 individual title Saturday. (Middle) Bryce Thelen leads the P-W pack on its team championship run. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)