Grand Rapids Christian's Julia Bos, East Grand Rapids girls run to cross country titles

Grand Rapids Christian's Julia Bos, East Grand Rapids girls run to cross country titles

Provided by Steve Vedder | The Grand Rapids Press

BROOKLYN -- You cannot accuse Grand Rapids Christian junior Julia Bos of backing into a state championship.

Bos was dominant during a remarkable regular season in which she failed to finish first only once, and she convincingly knocked off a pair of defending state champions Saturday en route to capturing a Division 2 state title at Michigan International Speedway.

Bos won a meet dominated by West Michigan area runners with a time of 17:24.7, which was 11 seconds better than Cedar Springs freshman Kenzie Weiler (17:35.10).

Allendale senior Ali Wiersma, who won the Division 3 title a year ago, was third at 17:36.6, while Zeeland West senior Rachele Schulist, the defending champion in Division 2, was fourth at 18:14.4.

In addition to the first five teams being from the area, including a championship by East Grand Rapids, 16 of the top 26 placers were from the area.

The Pioneers finished with 153 points to out-distance runner-up Cedar Springs, which finished with 176. Forest Hills Northern was third (195), Hamilton fourth (213) and Grand Rapids Christian fifth (230).

Bos said the meet was the perfect way to cap a dream season.

"It’s amazing, a neat thing," she said. "I pushed myself and worked hard for this. It’s really special, and I thank God for it."

Wiersma, who had a personal best time, said she knew it would be difficult to knock off Bos, who was fourth a year ago.

"For me, it was awesome. You could say it’s a bummer to finish third, but I’m thrilled with my race," Wiersma said. "It was one of the most fun races I’ve ever had."

Weiler, whose time was easily the best of any freshman in the state regardless of division, said she was thrilled to finish behind only Bos.

"I’m so happy with (finishing) second. As long as I ran my hardest and contributed to the team, I’m happy," she said.

The team title was the fifth for East Grand Rapids since 2003. Pioneers coach Nick Hopkins said it was a different team in that it featured 18 freshman. But seniors Kassidy Clark and Jessie Baloga, who were sixth and 13th in team scoring (10th and 19th overall), respecitvely, were the heart of the team.

"Every team has its own personality. Sometimes you’re young, sometimes you have seniors. This team was a mix," Hopkins said. "Seniors led the way, but we’ve got 18 freshmen. It’s always a challenge insofar as chemistry."

Hopkins said the area’s showing in Division 2 was remarkable. The Pioneers saw all of the top area placers during the regular season, a schedule that prepared them for the state meet.

"That helps," Hopkins said. "There is a lot of West Michigan pride we all have. It’s nothing personal, but we wanted to keep the title here. Cross country is alive and strong on this side of the state."

The area’s showing in Division 2 was part of a strong day in all four girls meets. Three OK Red teams finished among the top nine in Division 1, headed by a third-place finish by Grand Haven. Rockford was fifth and Hudsonville ninth.

Rockford senior Taylor Manett came within less than three seconds of winning a state title as her time of 17:24 ranked barely behind winner Erin Finn of West Bloomfield (17:22.6).

Kent City finished second to Benzie Central in the Division 3 meet while Saugatuck was third in Division 4.

Holland Black River’s Nicole Zeinstra finished second in Division 4 with a time of 18:40.3.