CORUNNA — Olivia Krejci had a simple plan for her race in the Small Schools Division of the Corunna Early Bird Invitational on Tuesday.

“Our coaches usually tell us to go out smart, don’t sprint ahead, and then work at picking people off,” she said. “Just run smart, basically.”

So, Krejci had a dilemma early on when she pulled away from the field.

“It was a little hard because there was no one to push me,” she said, “so I ran as hard as I could.”

It was more than enough. She won the race by more than a minute in 20:00.28, with teammate Alissa Ash (21:15.03) in second.

That 1-2 finish, along with a ninth-place run from Emily Williams, lifted the Eagles to the team title, 35 points ahead of second-place Laingsburg. In all, area teams took five of the first six places and six of nine spots overall.

Other top-10 finishers included Chesaning’s Emma Soelberg (22:48.32) — who edged out Emma Kribs of Laingsburg by less than a tenth of a second for sixth — and two from Morrice. Hayley Lademann was eighth in 22:53.23, and Josie Howard was 10th in 22:59.61.

The invite, held at the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds, was the first of the season for many of the schools, which presented its own challenge.

“This wasn’t about time for us,” said Corunna senior Evan Roka, who finished fourth in the medium school boys race. “It was mostly about effort. First race of the year, a lot of things we’re going to adjust. I’m pleased with how everyone did, and I’m pleased with what we’ve got coming up.”

Asked if Tuesday’s event was as much a mental test as a physical one, Roka said, “It might have been more. It might have been 60-40 mental.”

Part of that, Corunna boys coach Bryan Heid said, was by design for his Cavaliers.

“We purposely wait a while to get our first race in and get some training in instead,” he said. “Other guys have raced more, so the guys get a little edgy. They’ve seen some times and they’re a little worked up. It’s all right. I can deal with that. They were wound a little tight today.”

Corunna finished fourth in its division. Mason Warner was sixth for the Cavaliers in 17:02.80.

Owosso was 10th overall, led by Mason Collard (11th, 17:18.67).

Morrice’s Caleb Rivers was pleasantly surprised with his fourth-place finish in the Small Schools Division. His time of 17 minutes, 29.76 seconds was beyond what he expected of himself.

“My original plan was to get into the low 18s,” he said, “but the runners out there helped me push myself and I definitely achieved it. I was hoping to finish in the top 10, and that’s what I got.”

Rivers agreed that the course was a mental challenge.

“This course, being so wide open, not that much shade, is definitely a mental challenge, fighting with yourself,” he said.

His effort helped the Orioles to third place, best among area teams.

Other top-10 individual finishers included Perry’s Ryan O’Neill, fifth in 17:44.17, and Byron’s Hubert Ash, who was ninth in 18:25.90.

In the Medium Schools Girls Division, Corunna’s Lilly Evans got out to a fast start, one she came to regret.

“It’s been a while since I did a 5K,” she said. “I was excited to get out with a 5:45 in the first mile, which is probably not my best decision because I died later. I was not able to maintain it. But there’s always something to improve on.”

Evans, The Argus-Press Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2018, ran stride for stride with Haslett’s Lauren Hunter before falling back, finishing second in 19:51.68. Teammate Evie Wright was sixth overall in 21:49.49.

Corunna finished sixth overall.

Emma Johnson led Owosso in 20th (22:19.77). The Trojans were ninth overall.

The weather was much cooler than last year’s event, although some were overcome by heat. Others did their best to put it out of their minds.

“We’re supposed to say, every day, ‘The weather’s perfect,’” Evans said. “You have to worry about things you can control.”

For Krejci, Tuesday’s time was two seconds off a personal best set last season, and her willing herself to within a whisker of breaking 20 minutes was part of a plan to set a new personal best this season.

“If you start out hard,” she said, “it helps you get your PR sooner.”

BOYS CROSS COUNTRY

Corunna Early Bird XC Invitational

at Shiawassee County Fairgrounds

Medium School Results

Team standings: 1. Haslett 41; 2. Goodrich 92; 3. Flint Powers 97; 4. Corunna 125; 10. Owosso 242.

CORUNNA — 4. Evan Roka, 16:47.33; 6. Mason Warner, 17:02.80; 32. Logan Roka, 18:39; 44; 41. Dillan Baumchen, 1:04.40; 49. Zach Gooding 19:26.90.

OWOSSO — 11. Mason Collard, 17:18.67; 48. David Burns, 19:23.97; 59. Connor Madsen, 19:55.67; 81. Tyler Arriaga, 21:03.51; 86. Ben Welz, 21:17.07.

Small School Results

Team standings: 1. Montrose 50; 2. Unionville-Sebewaing 74; 3. Morrice 79; 6. Byron 154; 7. Perry 169; 8. Chesaning 178; 10. Laingsburg 231 (11 teams).

MORRICE — 4. Caleb Rivers, 17:29.76; 11. Hizuru Scribner, 18:36.67; 19. Chandler Iler, 19:04.77; 21. Owen Doerner, 19:08.27; 25. Aiden Campbell, 19:19.34.

BYRON — 9. Hubert Ash, 18:25.90; 17. Elisha Huggins, 18:58.95; 31. Andrew Daniels, 19:5724; 41. Nick Hormann, 20:51.73; 5.  Brandon Brozich, 23:40.45.

PERRY — 5. Ryan O’Neill 17:44.17; 18. Ethan Smith 19:03.31; 35. Troy Barber 20:35.34. 49. Benjamin Hinkley, 21:40.94; 71. Jonah Smith, 24:22.08.

CHESANING — 12. Levi Maier, 18:47.25; 36. Luke Walser, 20:37.51; 43. Dakota Sutter, 20:59.16; 44. Corbin Walker, 21:01.23; 47. Kaden Liebrock, 21:25.04.

LAINGSBURG — 38. Nolan Gregg, 20:39.36; 39. Caleb Clark, 20:42.35; 50. Miguel Ramirez, 21:45.32; 53. Tyler Scanlan, 22:10.04; 56. Sawyer Shastal 22:40.60.

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Name of Event

Corunna Early Bird XC Invitational

at Shiawassee County Fairgrounds

Medium School Results

Team standings: 1. Freeland 56; 2. Flint Powers 62; 3. Haslett 67; 6. Corunna 170; 9. Owosso 239.

Race Results

CORUNNA — 2. Lilly Evans, 19:51.68; 6. Evie Wright, 21:41.49; 49. Alexis Bukovick, 24:45.25; 67. Emma Bruckman, 25:44.97; 72. Tatum Galbavi, 26:11.19.

OWOSSO — 20. Emma Johnson, 22:19.77; 47. Emma Perry, 24:37.02; 64. Brieanna Wood, 25:31.16; 70. Evelyn Johnson, 26:08.86; 73. Emily Summerland, 26:12.33.

Small School Results

Team standings: 1. Byron 51; 2. Laingsburg 86; 3. Montrose 103; 4. Chesaning 109; 5. Morrice 110; 6. Perry 159;  9. Durand 180

Race Results

BYRON — 1. Olivia Krejci, 20:00.28; 2. Alissa Ash, 21:15.03; 9. Emily Williams, 22:54.12; 21. Kaitlyn Hankins, 24:30.58; 27. Becky Marvin 25:18.06.

LAINGSBURG —7. Emma Kribs, 22:48.32; 15. Danielle Winans, 23:33.50; 22. Shaily Baynes, 24:49.40; 26. Hayleigh Mertens, 25:`4.512; 31. Saige Wurm, 26:03.94.

CHESANING — 6. Emma Soelberg, 22:48.24; 24. Eliana Germaine, 24:55.48; 25. Emily Smith, 25:03.90; 32. Olivia Grover, 26:21.33; 5. Karlie Lewis, 27:11.39.

MORRICE — 8. Hayley Lademann, 22:53.23; 10. Josie Howard, 22:59.61; 12. Lillie Corebat 23:20.39; 48. Amber Lademann, 28:37.02; 50. Maisie Campbell 28:39.54.

PERRY — 10. Grace O’Neill, 22:06.95; 14. Ella Kloeckner, 23:27.31; 60. Jaylyn Hewitt, 31:09.62; 64. Daisy York, 31:12.16; 65. Kaitlyn Wilcox, 32:16.26.

DURAND — 20. Logan Zerka, 24:14.52; Meghan McPherson, 25:33.75; 42. Emma Cole, 27:19.02; 66. Hannah Johnson, 32:31.45; 69. Cady Freier 33:51.69.

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