FLAT ROCK---Bay College made history on Saturday, hosting its first athletic event in nearly 40 years. The Norse held a cross country invitational at the Beauchamp Farm in Flat Rock. Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech, and Lake Superior State Universities were represented in the event, along with Sault College out of Ontario.
Northern Michigan won the women's race with a 15 points, as Kameron Burmeister burned through the course in 18 minutes, 22.1 seconds. She won by nearly two full minutes over Michigan Tech's Lucille Nunnealy, who finished in 20:08.9. Lake Superior State was second with 44 points, and Bay College was third with 66 points. Finlandia University had one runner, and Tech had two runners, so no team scores.
Bay's top runner was Gladstone native Zoie Berg, who finished 11th overall in 22 minutes, 18.3 seconds. Norse teammate Caitlyn Havelka was 12th, finishing in 22:26.2. "I feel awesome," Berg said. "I got my personal best, which is super-exciting. I ran 40 seconds faster than what I ran on Tuesday, so it feels great, and it was a nice course, too." Bay's Rhyan Murtha was 17th (23:56.2), Katy Combs 19th (29:50.6), and Brittany Judson 20th (33:20.1). Unlike last week under the extreme heat at the University of Minnesota, all of the girls finished the race this time, with temperatures in the mid-50's.
"It was super-hot last weekend, so I'm excited that it was a lot cooler this morning," Berg said. "We weren't dying and sweating, so it was awesome." And what about being a part of the first-ever Norse team? "It's so cool. I never ran cross country in high school, so this is my first year. I was like, OK I'm gonna give it a shot, and it's really awesome that we can set records to be beat, and hopefully encourage other girls to try out."
For NMU, Junior Kalina Pfannenstiel was the second-fastest Wildcat finishing third with a time of 20:16. Finishing fourth and fifth were freshman Ellise Longley and sophomore Victoria Harris of Iron River to round out the top-five. Longley crossed the finish line in 20:21, while Harris finished in 20:31.
Michigan Tech University won the men's race, bringing an overwhelming 27 runners down from Houghton for the event. The top five scores count, of course, and the Huskies won the team event with 24 points.
Lake Superior State was second with 37, and Bay College was third with 85. Sault (Ontario) College, and Northern Michigan's non-varsity club team also participated.
Lake State's David Mitter won the 8-K race in 27 minutes, 15 seconds. Tech's Tom Bye was runner-up in 27:32.3. LSSU's Jack Miles was third, then the next eight places were taken by Michigan Tech.
Bay College's top men's runner was Gladstone native Nick LaRose, who finished 37th with a time of 34:35.5. Teammates Steven Magnuson (37:41.3), Kevin Brazeau (40:07.1), Dominic Mancini (41:53.9), and Gioovanni Mancini (41:57.8) had the next four places.
"I feel good," LaRose said. "The weather was super-hot last week, but today was perfect weather. No hills at all (on the course), and this is where I had my record 5-K (time) back in high school, so I'm familiar with it. I'm proud for where we are. The goal is always to do as good as I can."
Bay College Cross Country Coach Jim Murtha was proud to be a part of it. "It was tremendous," Murtha said. "Home field advantage came through today. We've trained out here a lot, and the kids know the course, they love the course. Compared to last week in Minnesota, if there was ever perfect weather to run, this was perfect weather to run."
And what about his Norse runners' times, competing against larger schools? "They were outstanding," Murtha said. "We had five girls finish, five boys finish. Career bests for every one of them. So, they all should walk away knowing that they're improving. They set some numbers, and they'll just keep trying to get better."
Northern Michigan University does not have a men's varsity cross country team. There were runners from NMU on hand from the club team.
Bay College will compete in events hosted by Lawrence University on October 7, and at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh on October 14.
-Jack Hall - RRN Sports