Otsego coach Steve Long takes a selfie with his team after the Bulldogs won the Division 2 state championship. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)Hamilton's Erika Freyhof finished with a time of 18:00 at the Division 2 state finals, winning the state title by 22 seconds. (Photo by Scott Sullivan)

Otsego girls claim D2 girls' cross country state title, Hamilton's Freyhof wins individual title

Jason Wesseldyk

Three, two, one.
That’s the path the Otsego girls’ cross country team took to winning a state championship.
After finishing third at the Division 2 state finals in 2013 and placing second last year, the Bulldogs moved up to the top spot in this year’s race at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, Nov. 7.
Top-ranked Otsego put together a score of 97, which easily bested runner-up East Grand Rapids’ 180 points.
Hamilton junior Erika Freyhof also went home with a state title, claiming the individual title at 18:00. Holland Christian’s Kayla Windemuller was second at 18:22.
“I really wanted to just go out and win,” said Freyhof, who finished 15th as a freshman and seventh last season. “All of the ones in front of me last year were seniors. That was exciting when they graduated, so I could get a chance.”
It was also an exciting day for the Bulldogs. Not only was the state title the first in program history, but it was also the first for any girls’ team from Otsego in any sports.
“The girls had a lot of pressure on them coming in as the top-ranked team,” Otsego coach Steve Long said. “They were undefeated and had really beaten up on everyone all season long.
“These girls have been to the state meet and done well, but we’ve always come in as the underdog chasing other teams. This year, though, after beating (Grand Rapids) Christian and East Grand Rapids earlier in the season, we were the heavy favorites. I thought they did a great job of staying focused and confident and trusting in each other.”
According to Long, his runners executed their game plan to perfection.
“Our plan was to get out fast and stay up front,” Long said. “We knew our race was in the top 50 runners, so we didn’t want to spend a bunch of time and energy having to get in those spots late in the race.”
The junior tandem of Megan Aalberts and Sophia Hirzel spearheaded the Otsego effort.
Aalberts finished fifth at 18:32, with Hirzel one spot behind in sixth at 18:38.

For full story, pick up a copy of the November 12 issue of The Allegan County News, the November 16 issue of The Union Enterprise or subscribe to the e-edition.

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