By CHRIS CRUICKSHANK The Rockford High Men’s Cross Country team split their squad to compete in both Friday’s Spartan Invitational and Saturday’s Sparta Invitational. The weather at both events was awesome and so were the Rams! In the Spartan Invitational Elite Division, the Rams squared off against the best teams in the State and came away with a very respectable third place finish. Four Rams finished the 5 K course under the 17:00 mark, led by Austin Benoit, who recorded a personal record time of 16:05. Benoit finished in 19th place, followed by Drew Woznick in 20th place, Grant Amon and Chris Coles. Other Rams supporting the team effort were Isaac Harding, Tyler Amon and Mark Cruickshank. At the Sparta Invitational the remainder of the Rams won the Blue Division Varsity and Reserve Races. In the varsity race, Rockford was led by Caleb Cuneo who finished in third place with a time of 17:21. Cuneo was followed by Mitch Switzer in 6th place, Grant Gabriel in 14th place and Grayson Harding in18th place. The Rams dominated the JV race, taking the top four places. The Rams were led by Brad Fischer with a time of 18:21, followed by Spenser Keating in 2nd, Matt Albano in 3rd, and Ben Parcell in 4th. Also competing well were fellow Rams Paul Burke, Kirk Dickson, Jack Wyatt and Jacob Day. This Tuesday the Rams will run at Johnson Park, and on Saturday Rockford will compete at the Cougar-Falcon Invitational to be held at Calvin College’s Gainey Complex.
The Rockford boys ran a tough race Friday afternoon, Sept. 17, at the Spartan Invitational held at the Forest Akers East Golf Course in East Lansing. Running in the Elite Division, this meet provided an opportunity to assess the competition the Rams will face against some top talents from across the state. They will also face some strong local teams, especially in the face of big changes to the varsity line-up, as last year’s strong senior runners have moved on to college teams. The top runner in the Elite Division came in with a 15:30 time for the 5K course, followed by three other runners with sub 16-second times. The top team was Dexter with an average time of 16:37, with several other teams approaching their times. Local team Grand Haven took ninth place and promises a good challenge for the Rams in coming weeks. The Rams were led by veteran varsity team members seniors Steven Ek and Spencer Gerber and sophomore Drew Woznick. Ek showed a strong finish with a time of 16:43, coming in at 33rd place, which separated him from a spot on the awards podium by only three runners. Gerber and Woznick followed with times of 17:01 and 17:03. Rounding up the varsity team at this event was sophomore Chris Coles (17:34) and senior Eric Parsell (17:41), followed by senior Devon Liu (17:41) and senior Mike Greko (18:06). Rockford placed 16th out of the 27 teams in the Elite class. However, with a predicted ranking of ninth place, according to the results of recent polling of Michigan cross country coaches, the team is expected to continue to improve their showing as the season unfolds. Coach Andrew Martin was upbeat after the race, mentioning the potential he sees with the team going forward.