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XC shine in mud at Cow Chip Classic

By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s cross-country team took an early morning trip west the past Saturday to showcase their talents at the 40th Annual Cow Chip Classic. Coach Adam Crutchley’s girls team and coach Lacey Diaz’s boys squad didn’t have to worry about the cow patties in the pastures since most of them were washed away by the showers before and throughout the competition. They did however need to navigate more than a few puddles. 

The Cow Chip is one of the top small school races in the state this year boasting 26 schools and over 400 runners. Tuscola’s boys ended their day in third overall as a team with 115 points a mere two minutes and 46 seconds separated their five scoring runners. 

Five Warriors in all bettered their time from last year near perfect conditions despite battling the conditions. Super sophs Josiah Hortin, Jackson Barrett and Will Foltz led the way in the flighted race. Hortin flew around the three mile muddy pastures in 17:08 finishing in fourth place overall running with the number ones while Barrett crossed in the line in 17:38 taking second in his flight and ninth overall. Next up was Foltz clocking in with an 18:33 finishing in the top twenty overall and third in the third tier. 

“Our athletes competed in a major way against many state meet hopefuls. We finished third against several state-ranked teams and look to be positioning ourselves well early in the season,” coach Crutchley stated. “Josiah and Jackson continued their early season individual success. Will continues to improve by leaps and bounds as well, and ran fearlessly to a third place finish in his flight.”

Seniors Logan Wallace and Riley Nolan rounded out the scoring the duo took second and fourth in their respective flights. Wallace turned in an 18:55 good for twenty-sixth overall. Nolan posted 20:03 to take forty-third. Bryce Graves and Mason Veach were the alternates both taking fourth in their races ending their day in the top fifty. Andrew Spillman, John Hegarty, Thomas Brown, Mason Holmes and Jacob Middleton competed in the open division. Spillman, Hegarty and Brown were all in the top twenty-five. 

“Logan executed the race perfectly in flight four and took second place after hovering around top five for most of the course.” Crutchley alliterated. I asked him what he thought about the course and he said: “I loved it. It wasn’t running on the road, it was running through the mud and the rain and that’s a true cross country course.” While three other boys took a good chunk off of their time from a year ago.”

A pair of youngsters were tops in the girls races leading coach Crutchley’s team to an eight place finish. Rylie Vanausdoll was seventh in her race and twenty-third overall with a 21:40.1 to show the way, edging teammate and fellow freshman Lia Patterson by less than a half a second. Patterson took tenth in the first flight and twenty-fourth overall entering the chute in 21:40.7.  

Senior Skylar Wilkins was next with the third scorer just outside the top fifty in fifty-third overall. Reggan Smith was the fourth scorer and Addy Ring the fifth. Kyla Gough toured the course as the first alternate and Lauren Woods was the second. Sage Stahler muddied her shoes as well, landing in the top half of a large open division.

“Freshmen Rylie Vanausdoll and Lia Patterson both ran 21:40 on a drenched, mud-caked course,” stated coach Crutchley.” It’s still very early, but they look to be filling the shoes of last year’s stars Laney Cummings and Brynn Tabeling quite well. Sage competed and ran well in what was (I think) her first competition in over two years. She’s coming along from major ankle surgery really well and the coaching staff is very excited to get her back in the fold. She could be one to watch in the next year or so once mileage gets built up. “

Coach Crutchley was all smiles at the end of the day mentioning that five of Tuscola runners shaved seconds off their times, from a year ago despite the mud. Last year’s race was run on a near perfect day to make that feat even more appealing. Veach bested his time by 53 seconds finishing the race without his cleats which he lost over 400 yards from the finish line. Barrett was next, reducing his time by 41 ticks of the clock then came Hortin and Foltz who both lowered theirs by 24 seconds. Wilkins joined the club as well, erasing four seconds from her time from a year ago. 

“Mason stole the show. The second-year junior managed to run 53 seconds faster than last year even after losing both of his spikes in the mud about a quarter mile from the finish. We’re incredibly proud of how both teams competed and look forward to showcasing ourselves at the Tuscola Classic in a few weeks.”

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