Fremont boys cross country team runs away with Division 2 state championship

Fremont boys cross country coach Cliff Somers remembers watching his team celebrate a second place finish at last year’s Division 2 state finals in Brooklyn.

The kids were excited because most of them were coming back this fall, so their prospects for a state title looked good.lsj-fb-logo

But Somers took the opportunity to sit then down at the time and remind them that state titles don’t just show up in the mail. If they wanted to move up a spot this season, he said, they would have to earn it.

“I just reminded them that Fremont had never finished second at state and won it all the next year,” Somers said. “They really took that to heart and worked hard all summer.”

Their hard work paid off on Saturday when the Packers accomplished their goal and cruised to a Division 2 state title on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

Fremont captured the title in runaway fashion, finishing with 69 points, almost 100 points better than second place Otsego, which had 162.

Matt Zerfas was the top runner for the Packers, finishing fifth overall with a time of 15:44.7. Sam Kaastra finished 14th with a 16:05.7 mark, followed by Cole Hamilton (16th, 16:07.9), Ben Schmidt (19th, 16:11.8), Sam Stitt (35th, 16:26.5), Ben Dueling (176th, 17:42.0) and Ben DeVries (177th, 17:43.8).

Fremont, which won a regional championship last weekend, had health issues heading into the state finals. Hamilton, who was the Packers’ No. 2 runner all season, has been battling Achilles tendinitis, which forced him out of regionals and kept him on crutches all week leading to the finals.

Hamilton returned to action Saturday and finished in the top 20, helping Fremont cut points and gain its margin of victory.

“It was a great effort,” Somers said of Hamilton’s performance. “He knew he had to run well today for us to win.”

In other boys competition, Spring Lake took 10th place in Division 2. The Lakers’ top runner was Andrew Hylen, who finished 35th with a time of 16:35.2.

In Division 3, Hesperia’s Arik LaFave was fifth with a time of 15:58.7; Kent City’s Fraser Wilson was ninth with a time of 16:04.1; Western Michigan Christian’s Braxton Snuffer was 10th with a time of 16:09.1; Grant’s Jesse Saxton was 11th with a time of 16:10.8; and Mason County Central’s Zac Wright-Fisher was 12th with a time of 16:11.8.

In Division 4, Holton’s Jacob Tanner was fourth overall with a time of 16:34.9.

In girls competition, Whitehall finished ninth in Division 2. Maya Hector was the Vikings’ top runner, finishing 21st overall with a time of 18:59.8.

Hart’s Adelyn Ackley finished second overall in the Division 3 race with a time of 18:18.2.

Grand Haven’s Gabby Hentemann took 17th in the Division 1 race with a time of 18:21.7. Ludington’s Lauren Biggs was 11th in the Division 2 race with a time of 18:53.65.

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