Bridgman girls win state cross country title

Bridgman cross country runners Alexa Ackerman (1696), Mikaela Owen (1701), Summer Fast (left of Owen), Arie Hackett (1699) and Karsyn Stewart (1702) compete at Saturday's Division 4 state finals at Michigan International Speedway.

Bridgman's girls cross country team took down a dynasty and won the school's first-ever girls team state championship on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.

Bridgman finished first in the Division 4 meet with 132 points, knocking off four-time defending state champion Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart, which placed second with 148.

"It's a great feeling," Bridgman coach Spencer Carr said. "I'm very excited that they were able to come through today and run some great races and get the state championship."

Bridgman hadn't won a team state championship since 1987, when it claimed titles in both baseball and boys golf. The team was given a police escort to the high school upon returning to Bridgman Saturday evening.

Junior Karsyn Stewart and sophomore Arie Hackett both earned all-state honors to lead the Bees.

Stewart placed sixth, improving her own school record with a time of 19:38.8.

"I didn't think I could (set a personal record) today, because it's kind of a hard course, it's really muddy," Stewart said. "But I did. I was really happy, it was a really good day."

Hackett broke the 20-minute mark for the first time, finishing 11th in 19:58.2. More importantly, she finished just ahead of Sacred Heart's top two runners, 12th-place Olivia Ervin (20:01.3) and 13th-place Desiree McConnell (20:09.8).

"I knew they were behind me the whole race, and on the curve, I kind of had to kick it way early," Hackett said. "I had to run really fast on the last strip for a while to keep ahead of them. I'm really proud of myself for holding my spot and not letting anyone pass me on the last stretch."

Other Bridgman runners included Summer Fast (20:59.3) in 39th, Jane Kaspar (21:43.1) in 68th, and Mikaela Owen (21:55.8) in 81st.

"I think today it helped a lot because we ran for each other," Hackett said. "Obviously we all wanted a good spot, Karsyn and I were going for all-state, but at the same time we knew we all had to run well to pull it off."

Owen can now add a team state title to a pair of individual ones — she won the 100 and 200 at this past spring's Division 4 state track finals.

Bridgman's boys team placed 11th in Division 4, led by Chipper Steffey (17:31.3) in 37th and Luke Blesy (17:44.1) in 48th.

Local boys runners to earn all-state honors included Dowagiac's Shawn Little, who placed seventh in Division 2 with a time of 15:58.3, and Bloomingdale's Joe Furlan, who was 20th in Division 3 at 16:42.4.

D4 girls

Team state champion — Bridgman.

Individual winner — Abby VanderKooi (Muskegon Western Michigan Christian) 18:11.0.

Bridgman — 6. Karsyn Stewart 19:38.8, 11. Arie Hackett 19:58.2, 39. Summer Fast 20:59.3, 68. Jane Kaspar 21:43.1, 81. Mikaela Owen 21:55.8.

Lake Michigan Catholic — 47. Allison Glendening 21:11.3, 155. Grace Stockdale 23:07.6.

Lawrence — 79. Madeline Madsen 21:54.2.

Eau Claire — 87. Ericka Lopez 22:03.2.

Decatur — 104. Breanna Franks 22:14.3.

D4 boys

Team state champion — Breckenridge.

Individual winner — Mason Sumner (Breckenridge) 16:07.5.

Bridgman (11th) — 37. Chipper Steffey 17:31.3, 48. Luke Blesy 17:44.1, 99. John Sanderson 18:19.8, 147. AJ Hackett 18:47.3, 177. Jayce Warren 19:12.5.

Lawrence (23rd) — 64. Isaiah Beiter 17:57.8, 102. Alan Macyauski 18:21.3, 173. Charlie DeGraves 19:10.9, 190. Mauricio Mancera 19:31.4, 197. Brody Amthor 19:37.0.

Lake Michigan Catholic — 82. Michael Golden 18:07.8.

River Valley — 145. Logan Payne 18:46.6.

Eau Claire — 185. Edward Lopez 19:26.2.

D3 girls

Team state champion — Hart.

Individual winner — Rylee Tolson (Stockbridge) 18:31.4.

Coloma (25th) — 126. Ava Genovese 21:23.3, 170. Emma Vandermolen 22:20.4, 197. Abby Vandermolen 23:01.2, 209. Camryn Brown 23:23.6, 213. Breanna Tillotson 23:30.7.

Bloomingdale — 44. Kallie Harrison 20:18.3, 109. Aimee Sustaita 21:08.7.

D3 boys

Team state champion — Hanover-Horton.

Individual winner — Hunter Jones (Benzie Central) 15:45.0.

Bloomingdale (13th) — 20. Joe Furlan 16:42.4, 76. Tyler Starbuck 17:30.6, 81. David Garcia 17:34.5, 147. Malachi Cassels 18:18.5, 160. Carlos Garcia 18:26.0.

Buchanan — 41. Walker Barz 17:03.8, 107. Kelsey Brown 17:50.6.

Watervliet — 84. Ezra Troyer 17:39.8, 91. Gus Hinch 17:43.1.

D2 girls

Team state champion — East Grand Rapids.

Individual winner — Anna Petr (East Grand Rapids) 17:59.6.

Niles — 64. Kaylee Thompson 19:55.9.

Berrien Springs — 100. Erin Moore 20:21.2.

Lakeshore — 127. Emily Peters 20:37.0.

D2 boys

Team state champion — Fremont.

Individual winner — Evan Bishop (East Grand Rapids) 15:12.6.

Berrien Springs (19th) — 58. Ashton Sheline 16:56.0, 70. Carter Sheline 17:04.1, 150. James Burke 17:41.0, 191. Nathaniel Bittner 18:05.8, 206. Nick Swank 18:17.7.

Dowagiac — 7. Shawn Little 15:58.3, 114. Cole Parker 17:23.0.

Lakeshore — 33. Race Bettich 16:33.5.

Niles — 123. Adam Shepherd 17:26.4.

D1 girls

Team state champion — Ann Arbor Pioneer.

Individual winner — Zofia Dudek (Ann Arbor Pioneer) 17:00.4.

St. Joseph — 111. Riley Mullen 19:53.3.

D1 boys

Team state champion — Brighton.

Individual winner — Carter Solomon (Plymouth) 15:01.2.

Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders