Trojans’ Veen takes second, Otsego finishes ninth as team
Plainwell junior Makenna Veen established herself as one of the top runners in Division 2 by virtue of two top-five finishes at the state finals the past two years.
She added to that legacy at this year’s state finals at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, Nov.3.
Crossing the finish line with a time of 18:16, Veen earned runner-up honors as only Jaden Theis of Lansing Catholic posted a better time at 18:01.
The outcome marked the second straight season Veen and Theis finished one spot apart at the state finals.
Last season, Veen placed fifth with a time of 17:55. Theis was sixth at 18:18 in what was Lansing Catholic’s first year at Division 2 since moving up from Division 3.
Veen was fourth as a freshman at 18:44, while Theis was sixth in Division 3 at 18:18.
Although Veen’s time didn’t quite match her performance from a year ago, she was definitely pleased with the result given the wet, sloppy conditions of the course.
“I honestly didn’t expect to place as well as I did,” Veen said. “But I race well in these nasty conditions.”
Veen wasn’t the only Plainwell runner to make her mark in the race, as freshman teammate Mackenzie Hill ran a 18:59 to place 16th in her first appearance at the state finals. That was good enough to secure All-State recognition, which goes to the top 30 finishers in the race.
The team standings, meanwhile, saw Otsego place ninth of the 27 competing teams with a score of 285. That was seven points behind eighth-place Grosse Ile, 19 points behind seventh-place Holland Christian, 25 points behind sixth-place St. Johns and 27 points behind fifth-place Grand Rapids Christian.
East Grand Rapids won the title with 51 points, followed by DeWitt (159 points) in second, Petoskey (169) in third and Dearborn Devine Child (244) in fourth.0
The finish marked Otsego’s sixth-straight finish in the top 10, with the previous five seasons being top-five finishes: fourth last season, first in 2016 and 2015, second in 2014 and third in 2013.
“The girls ran well,” Otsego coach Steve Long said. “We don’t have the string of front runners that we’ve had in previous years and you really need that to be a top five team at the state meet. We’re much more of a pack team when it comes to races of this size, and I thought the ladies ran hard.”
A pair of seniors led an overall young squad as Sydney Kubiak and Kristin Brylowski were the top two placers for Otsego.
Kubiak was 65th at 19:53 and Brylowski was 82nd at 20:09.
“Sydney and Kristen were great again and led the way,” Long said. “I’ve been so proud of them this season. What a great way to end their cross country careers.”
The other three scoring runners for Otsego included two freshmen and a sophomore: freshman Claudia Stachura was 87th at 20:12, sophomore Briahna Mosher was 102nd at 20:27 and freshman Brinley Badders was 104th at 20:28.
The Bulldogs’ sixth and seventh runners were also freshmen, as Joy Wolfe was 121st at 20:43 and Elizabeth Burrill was 131st at 20:49.
“Our ninth-place finish wasn’t what we were hoping for, but we got out maybe a little too aggressively and that probably cost us a little bit in the end,” Long said. “I feel confident in saying that on any given day we could have finished in the top five or six, but I’ll take a top ten finish with a group of girls that included only one who had ever run in the state finals before.”
Wayland’s Rylee Cronkright finished 49th at 19:45.