NILES – The Niles Viking Stampede kicked off the 2019 season for the Lakeshore and Niles cross country teams on Friday.

Lakeshore’s girls scored 51 points to take second place. Plainwell won with 31, Battle Creek Harper Creek was third with 70  and Niles fourth with 80.

“I thought they ran well,” Lakeshore girls coach Beau Deja said. “Plainwell is tough; I knew they were gonna go one-two-three. I challenged my girls to see if they could go and get second. This group has bought in. It’s fun; they know they have to work together and pack up.

“I’m super pleased with what they ran.”

Plainwell won the boys race with 36 points, edging out Harper Creek’s 39 and Lakeshore’s 45. Niles only had two athletes participating in the race.

Niles senior Kaylee Thompson finished fourth for the Vikings. The senior has high hopes for the season.

“I thought the started the season well,” Niles girls coach Jami Foster said. “Kaylee PR’d on this course by over 30 seconds. We have her right where we need her to be.”

Freshman Emily Peters led Lakeshore’s girls with a fifth-place finish. Cait O’Brien placed 11th overall and will be one of the team’s leaders this season.

“It was really fun,” Peters said. “There were these four girls and they were so far in front of me. So for the whole race, I just had to navigate it myself. I felt like I was all alone but I think I did really good.”

“It was pretty fun,” O’Brien said. “I ran with a few of my teammates so it was nice to have people to push and people to push me. I like helping people. It’s good to see people improve and also have them help me improve.”

Race Bettich took fourth place to lead the Lakeshore boys, while Charlie Ogata finished sixth and Denver Borst ninth. Bettich will be counted on to be a leader for the Lancers this season.

“At the beginning of the race, I started out strong,” Bettich said. “I felt pretty good about myself. I stuck to the head f the pack. Towards the end, I finished as strong as we could.”

“I’m really happy,” Lakeshore boys coach Gregg Buschlen said. “We like the progress we’re making. We have some good leadership at each grade level.”

Niles senior Adam Shepherd finished third with a time of 17:25.90.

“We have big plans for him,” Niles boys coach Joseph Todd said. “We’re aiming for all-state this year. That’s our goal for him. When the rest of the team comes in, we’re hoping for a top-five finish.”

Niles Viking Stampede

Boys

Team scores – 1. Plainwell 36, 2. BC Harper Creek 39, 3. Lakeshore 45, Niles DNF.

Race winner – Owen Gilbert (BC Harper Creek) 17:12.93.

Lakeshore – Race Bettich 17:26, 4, Charlie Ogata 18:40.71, 6, Denver Borst 19:21.59, 9, Grant Rose 19:48.25, 15, Lucas Balkema 19:52.85, 16.

Niles – Adam Shepherd 17:25.90, 3, Ashton Burrous 22:48.28, 36.

Girls

Team scores – 1. Plainwell 31,2.  Lakeshore 51, 3. BC Harper Creek 70, 4. Niles 80.

First Place – Makenna Veen (Plainwell) 19:14.61.

Lakeshore – Emily Peters 21:02.29, 5, Rachel Vroegop 22:46.80, 9, Abigail Winsman 22:47.42, 10, Cait Obrien 22:47.62, 11, Tori Dixon 23:51.19, 16.

Niles – Kaylee Thompson 19:50.07, 4, Cassandra Shortman 23:30.32, 15, Kierstyn Thompson 24:33.20, 20, Kayla Trueblood 24:59.37, 25, Maeli Rogers 25:17.52, 26.

Contact: mharden@thehp.com, 932-0371, @HPMaxwellHarden