By Jason Wesseldyk
GRAND JUNCTION—The Otsego girls cross country team picked up right where it left off last season.
The Bulldogs—who went undefeated en route to the Division 2 state championship last year—started the 2023 campaign by winning the South Haven-hosted Southwest Michigan Rust Buster at Warner Camp.
Otsego finished with 22 points at the Wednesday, Aug. 30, event to easily outdistance runner-up Jenison by 41 points. Fennville was third with 149 points, while Plainwell was fifth (156) and Hopkins was 10th (202).
Allegan also competed but didn’t have enough runners to qualify for a team score.
Otsego’s Emma Hoffman, the individual runner-up in Division 2 as a freshman last November, won the race with a time of 18:31. Senior teammate Logan Brazee was second at 18:59.
Senior Megan Germain (fourth at 19:23), junior Taylor Mitchell (sixth at 19:25) and freshman Skylar Mejeur (ninth at 19:45) rounded out the scoring runners for Otsego and joined Hoffman in the top 10.
Sophomore Rebekah Stachura (12th at 20:07) and junior Taylor Klimp (25th at 21:25) also competed for the Bulldogs and earned medals, which went to the top 25 finishers.
Other local medal winners included: Plainwell sophomore Josie Longcore (10th at 19:49); Fennville freshman Isabelle Sliter (15th at 20:26); Hopkins senior Jaeden Harshberger (17th at 20:36); Fennville senior Nidia Martinez (19th at 20:41); and Hopkins junior Kambria Moored (21st at 21:03).
Sophomore Jayden VandenAkker had the best showing for Allegan. A hurdle specialist who is running cross country for the first time, VandenAkker posted a time of 22:02 to place 32nd.