Improving one spot from its team finish a year ago, the Sturgis boys cross country squad placed 10th at Saturday’s Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 state finals with 299 points.
In her fourth consecutive trip to the state meet, Trojans senior Peyton Boughton took 29th as an individual qualifier in the girls race with a time of 19:28 for an all-state finish to her career.
“It was everything I could’ve hoped for,” Boughton said of the typical early-November weather. “By no means decent conditions for setting a personal record (not in the slightest), but it was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever run. Many of the girls I was running with were dancing around the puddles on their toes to avoid getting wet or muddy, but I’d spoil their efforts each time I smashed my spikes into the center of each mud pit. All in good fun.”
St. Clair (106), St. Joseph (127) and Grand Rapids Christian (180) claimed the top-three spots for the boys. Senior Grant Brown led the Trojans in 16:43 for 44th overall. Shawn Bell was close behind in 47th (16:44), Daniel Steele finished 69th (16:58), Trever Sprowls was 89th (17:06) and Terry Stahl scored in 163rd place (17:44). David Polzin (17:59) and Daniel Tetzloff (18:52) were 181st and 221st, respectively. All but Brown return next season.
Visit the Scoreboard page for full meet results.
“The boys team completed their goal of being a top-10 team,” Sturgis coach Emerson Green said. “Grant Brown, Shawn Bell and Daniel Steele qualified for the academic all-state team. The entire team will receive team academic honors with a team GPA of 3.807. We are looking forward to the future and will reset the goal to be a top-five team next year. This is an ambitious goal, but we have the runners and work ethic to attempt this.”
Though Boughton, who earned back-to-back top-30 finishes (all-state), was on her own on the course, she could feel the Sturgis love.
“She was also on the academic all-state performer by finishing in the top half of the race and having a GPA of 3.929,” Green said. “The entire girls team came to the state meet with signs and support for their teammates. The girls team has excellent leadership for the future and [they] are totally supportive of each other to continue to grow and improve as a team. We are looking forward to them improving and seem to have the motivation to do the work that is needed.”
Boughton, who trimmed nearly six minutes off her best time as a freshman, found herself in a mental battle.
“This year was pretty substantial in terms of competition,” she said. “It wasn’t nearly as competitive as I’d thought, but I could pick out a few girls in the beginning of the race to set my sights on. Near the mile mark, I remember thinking to myself, ‘You know, I really don’t mind if I’m in 31st or 32nd. It’s close enough to all-state.’ But I knew I’d have to push that out of my mind if I wanted to shoot for all-state. So I literally shook my head and told myself that I’d settle for no less than 29th. And I actually had a bit of a kick this year in the last 100 meters, which has never happened for me all four years of the state meet.”
The effort from her teammates certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
“Every single one of the girls pitched in to support in some form or another,” Boughton said. “They actually spent about five or six hours the night before making posters to support the guys — everyone got their own poster, so you can imagine how much craft supplies and poster board they had to use. On top of that, almost all of them drove up to the meet to cheer us on all day Saturday. I’ve never known a more supportive team who would dedicate almost a full two days of their time voluntarily to generate so much support for their teammates.”
Brown said the race went by really fast despite adverse conditions affecting times.
“We were working our legs harder in the mud with less power, making our times slower and the race much harder for us. It was a good experience though as a last race. It was a great time finishing the race and seeing where all of the places we got mud and who was the dirtiest. I really enjoyed running that course and it was great to go out with my teammates, especially with a top-10 finish. I couldn’t ask for any more. It was a great season.”