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Times improving for Niles cross country teams

NILES — For the first time since its season opener in August, the Niles cross country teams returned to their home course at Madeline Bertrand Park Tuesday.

Despite humid and wet conditions from rain that moved through the area just prior to the race, the Vikings showed vast improvement in their times from the Viking Stampede.

Visiting Paw Paw won both the boys and girls races of the Wolverine Conference meet. The Red Wolves edged the Vikings in the girl’s race 27-30. The Niles boys team had enough to score points for the first time this season. It was defeated by Paw Paw 18-44.

The Vikings individually had a runner finish in the top three in both races.

Kierstyn Thompson placed second for the girls team with a time of 22:24. Aiden Krueger, who splits time with the tennis team, placed third in the boys race with a time of 19:55.

“It was a tough loss against Paw Paw tonight,” said Niles Coach Jami Roden. “This was our third time competing against them this season. They are up 2-1, and I hope our girls can take them the next time we compete against them. Some of my top runners did not have good races tonight, and that probably affected the final outcome. I was happy that about half the team had a PR [personal record] on their home course tonight.”

According to Coach Tony Todd, all of the runners on the boys team bettered their times from the first race.

“All my runners made big improvements,” he said.

Krueger bested his August performance by 1:09, while Logan Ritchie showed the biggest improvement as his time of 22:34 was 2:44 better than his first race. Tyler Reeves (29:06) improved by 2:08, while Miguel Vazquez (23:33) and Ashton Burrous (21:31) improved by 55 and 51 seconds, respectively.

On Saturday, the Niles girls team easily won the Fennville Invitational.

The Vikings posted a team score of 28, while host Fennville was the runner-up with 58 points.

Thompson was the runner-up individually with a time of 21:56. Aubrey Jackson (22:06) and Eve Shepherd (22:25) finished fourth and fifth.

“Every girl ran great on Saturday, and that’s what helped us win the invitational,” Roden said. “Not only did we win, but every girl had a season PR and/or a career PR. The girls mentioned that they loved running on the course because there were no repeated loops, and they practiced on a similar field that prepared them for the meet.”

Medals were awarded to the top 25 finishers. Earning medals for the Vikings were Thompson, Jackson, Sheperd, Cassie Shortman, Ansley McIntosh, Kylie Conn and Meg Crites.

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