BRIDGMAN — The season-opening Bridgman cross country meet has a reputation for hot weather, but even by those standards the 2021 edition run on Aug. 25 in Lake Township Park was a scorcher.

With a heat index over 100 degrees, those running had to battle more than just the normal challenges of an early season meet.

“It’s always hot at this race … We came in really trying to have a positive mindset about his meet because we run here a lot, it’s our home course,” said Bridgman senior Arie Hackett.

On the girls side of the Aug. 25 , the host Bees edged Buchanan by three points (41-44) to defend their home turf.

Freshman Clara Fast paced the Bees by finishing fourth in her first high school run.

“I’m just proud of how I was able to stay mentally tough in this heat,” she said.

Leading the host Bees to victory were: Clara Fast (fourth place); Hackett (5th); Jane Kaspar (8th); Summer Fast (10th); Graci Tate (23rd); Emily Howell (28th); Stephanie Demeulenaere (30th); Tuula Buckland (49th); Marissa Freehling (64th); Anne Scott (67th); Grace Fenech (68th).

Kaspar said one of her shoes was untied for most of the race, but she was able to press on.

“This is my senior year, and I didn’t want to let the team down so I just had to keep going,” she said.

Womens team results were: 1. Bridgman – 41 points; 2. Buchanan – 44; 3. Hartford – 83; 4. Lake Michigan Catholic – 99; 5. Watervliet – 128; 6. New Buffalo – 148; 7. Brandywine – 168.

Presley Allen of Mendon finished first overall in a time of 19:08.6.

Bridgman coach Spencer Carr said Buchanan will be a challenge for his team in the BCS Conference and at regionals.

Finishing for New Buffalo were Eliza McGinn (17th); Ella Vyskocil (22nd); Emily Walters (57th); Georgia Arvanitis (58th); Olivia Bourne (60th).

McGinn passed a competitor on the fearsome uphill finish to gain a place.

“I didn’t really think about it much, I just wanted to finish,” she said.

Reaching the finish line for River Valley were: Rylee Rogers (26th) and Mya Thomas (52nd).

On the men’s side Lake Michigan Catholic edged out Watervliet for the top spot.

Overall team results follow: 1. Lake Michigan Catholic – 72 points; 2. Watervliet – 74; 3. Bridgman – 85; 4. Bloomingdale – 103; 5. Hartford – 112; 6. River Valley – 118; 7. Lawrence – 135; 8. Bangor – 149.

The race winner was Isaiah Belter of Lawrence (18:12.6).

Pacing the third-place Bees were: John Sanderson (11th); Andrew Mabry (15th); Nathan Blied (17th); Sebastian Kirk (22nd); Gunter Ansinn (35th); William Rodriguez (42nd); Jason Swenson (57th); Brad Salmon (62nd); Aidden Sonnenberg (65th).

Crossing the finish line for River Valley were: Cadden Krieger (13th); Austin York (16th); Grant Schumm (32nd); Ryan Driscoll (38th); Jaren Christ (46th); Derrick Freehling (47th); Patrick Driscoll (50th); Braiden Brooks (60th).

Mustang coach Matt Dague noted that his senior captain (Christ) ran despite having his wisdom teeth pulled less than a week earlier.

“I’m just proud of al the kids that ran today,” he said. “I told the kids don’t he heroes today, just finish, and we had about half of them PR, which was just amazing.”

New Buffalo’s finishers were: Harrison Bourne (25th); Keagan Papke (39th); Evan Spriggs (48th).

River Valley teammates Charlie Gibson and Landon Rogers (both eighth-graders) took the top two spots in the middle school race, with Bridgman’s Brody Roberts finishing third.

Gibson said it was a tough race because most of the course is in the sun.

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