In her first state finals race at Michigan International Speedway, Mendon freshman Mary Leighton clocked a time of 20 minutes, 43 seconds for 45th place at Saturday’s Division 4 meet.
The Hornets were 14th with 406 points. Beal City (120) won the title, followed by Breckenridge (136) and Bear Lake (158).
Michael Campbell placed 36th in 17:47 to lead the Mendon boys, which were 11th with 343 points. Saugatuck (113), Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart (121) and Concord (134) were the top-three teams.
Visit the Scoreboard page for complete race results.
“I was pretty happy with the results for my first year at state,” Leighton said. “I was hoping that I would be in the top 60 if I ran okay, but getting 45th was a surprise for me. I did not get a [personal record], which I was hoping for, but it was a very good season in all. My strategy for the race was to stick to a girl with the same pace as me and just try to pick off as many girls as I could. I didn’t pick off as many as I would have liked but it was a really awesome experience with my team for my first year at state.”
For Leighton, even aspects of competing at the championship overlooked by some were a novelty.
“We were also excited to ride the tram to MIS,” she said.
It was the first time in school history both teams qualified for the state meet in the same year.
“I am honored to be a part of that,” Leighton added.
Older sister Grace Leighton, a senior, finished 190th in 23:59.
“My family and team are very supportive and I couldn’t ask for a better coach,” Mary Leighton said. “It was bittersweet to run with my sister one last time for cross. Hopefully the experience of this year can help me to run better and have a better strategy next year. My goal next year is a PR of 19:40 and to help take my team to state again.”
Jenna Gales was 94th in 21:33, Jenna Griffith (21:42) placed 102nd, Julia Sutter (23:18) was 171st, Lauren Samson (23:57) was 187th and Robyn Watson (24:19) finished 199th.
Joe Gales ran an 18:25 for 101st place on the boys side, followed by Zach Darmofal (18:26) in 102nd, Jacob Hagenbuch (18:39) in 125th, Austin Yunker (18:39) in 127th, Tyler Frisbie (18:47) in 135th and Alex Heckman (19:00) in 151st.
Centreville’s Brady Reynolds placed 80th overall in 18:04 and Matt Clementz crossed the line in 18:41 (130th).
White Pigeon’s Robyn Watson was 141st in 22:29 and Colon’s Skyler Harvey was 146th, registering a time of 22:33. Marissa Mohney of Centreville finished 182nd in 23:38.