Only one Fayette runner will advance out of the district cross country tournament and move on to regional competition in Tiffin this weekend.
Eagle sophomore Skylar Lantz placed 13th Saturday in his race at Liberty Center to make the cut for another weekend of competition. The top four teams and the top 16 individuals advance to the regional tournament.
Lantz crossed the finish line at 16:52. The race was won by Eric Dahlinghaus of Minster with a time of 16:01, less than a second ahead of Aaren Hemmelgarn of St. Henry. Another runner posted a 16:01 from one of the other Div. III district races at Liberty Center.
Fayette coach Bryan Stambaugh figures Lantz will have to run in the 16:30s Saturday to make the cut for the state meet.
“He’s definitely capable of doing it,” Stambaugh said. “It’s not out of his range.”
Dylan Stannard ran a personal best Saturday, as did most of the other members of the boys team.
Fayette's other runners were Stannard, 25th place at 17:17, Casen Burkholder, 42nd at 18:06; Jared Wagner, 44th at 18:12; Ian Schrock, 50th at 18:59; Dylan Aschemeier, 67th at 19:40; and Cole Burkholder, 73rd at 20:14.
Fayette placed sixth in team standings. Minster was first, followed by St. Henry. Pettisville advances as one of the top four teams.
GIRLS—Junior Jill Stuckey was the top runner for the Fayette girls, but she was about half a minute shy of advancing to regionals. She placed 18th at 21:25, ahead of freshman Emilie Keiser (24th, 21:39) and senior Melanie Seiler (28th, 22:03).
Other Eagle runners were Noelle Goodson, 45th at 22:55; Madelyn Maginn, 47th at 22:59; Liz Maginn, 60th at 24:00; and Ellen Baker, 63rd at 24:42.
Brittany Atkinson of Liberty Center won the race at 18:06. The best Div. III time of the day at Liberty Center was 17:43.
“Jill just missed out,” Stambaugh said. “She was in a position, but lost a couple spots in the last mile.”
Stambaugh said he was proud of how Seiler went out and gave it her all for the final race of her senior year. Keiser ran her best race by far, Stambaugh said, and all the others had good times for their averages.
The host team won the district title. Fayette placed sixth, four points behind Hilltop.
“It was a respectable team finish for the competition,” Stambaugh said. “I wasn’t disappointed with it.”
The Div. III boys race is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday in Tiffin.
MORENCI CROSS: Several Bulldog runners continue to improve as Morenci heads to the Div. IV regional meet Saturday in Hudson. Five personal best times within a span of three days gives coach Brad Brown hope for several runners to advance to the state meet Nov. 3 at Michigan International Speedway.
“We should have some confidence going into the regional meet at Hudson because the teams have had some of their best runs there,” Brown said. “They know they can run well there.”
The top three teams and the top 15 individuals will advance to the state competition. The boys’ race is scheduled at 10 a.m. and the girls follow at 10:30.
The Bulldogs competed Saturday for the first time at the Class D Championships in Shepard, Mich. The girls placed third by just one point, behind Beal City and Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart. Both teams are ranked high in Div. IV.
Mariah Gillen ran her fastest ever at 20:37 for fifth place and teammate Tatyana Pless followed in 14th place at 20:56. Madi Gleckler was back in action and ran a PR at 21:25 for 22nd place.
Other Bulldog runners were Samantha Mikuski (37th, 22:44), Taylor Baugh (120th, 26:10) and Andy Mikuski (145th, 28:53). Baugh was suffering from a cramp and finished about two minutes off her usual time.
“Mariah and Tatyana started off too fast,” Brown said, “but they both held out and did a good job staying near the front.”
The two team leaders finished in the top 15 while running out of their comfort zone, he said, against some of the top small-school runners in the state.
The Bulldog boys finished eighth among 26 teams, with two runners posting personal bests.
Luke Spaulding took 12th place at 17:40, a few seconds off his best ever, and Jake Spaulding was 27th at 18:04 for a PR. Reagan Stowell also turned in his best at 18:39 for 46th place. Adam Roseman finished 110th at 20:43 and Brandt Kelley was 157th at 22:14. One-hundred and ninety-three runners competed.
Coach Brown said the overnight trip to the meet was paid for by Morenci Athletic Boosters and team members were very appreciative of the gift.
SAND CREEK—Brown figured the Sand Creek Invitational on Monday would provide a good workout for the week after Saturday’s competition, but two Bulldogs came through with PRs.
Pless lowered her time to 20:22.9 for fifth place and Gillen lowered her previous best to 20:35.8 for sixth place.
Gleckler placed 18th at 22:10, followed by Samantha Mikuski (26th, 22:58), Baugh (39th, 24:37), Maëlle Delhaise (59th, 26:18) and Andy Mikuski (78th, 32:45).
The girls placed second of 11 teams, 90 points behind fifth-ranked Div. III team Hanover-Horton.
Morenci’s boys placed seventh of 12 teams, with Hanover-Horton winning.
Luke Spaulding was sixth at 17:43.7, followed by Jake Spaulding (18th, 18:34); Stowell (20th,18:51); Roseman, (71st, 21:58); and Kelley (77th, 22:49).
MORENCI FOOTBALL: By DAVID GREEN
It was senior night Friday in Deerfield and players were introduced during a continual light rain.
One by one they took their place on the field until there were 16 Britton-Deerfield players standing—two more than Morenci's entire team. The Bulldogs had three extra players that night after bringing up Malachi Hoffman from the junior varsity team.
"Only 11 of them can be on the field at one time," noted Morenci assistant coach Dan Hoffman, and the Bulldogs took the field.
In the end, it was a decisive 36-8 win for the playoff bound Patriots (6-2, 5-2), but Morenci (3-6, 1-6) held its own for the first half, stopping BD on four of its first six possessions and going into the third quarter trailing just 15-8.
"We held them in check the first half," said head coach Mike McDowell, but the defense gave way after intermission.
The Bulldogs picked up two first downs on their initial possession before stalling out and turning the ball over on downs. The Patriots were soon forced to punt and Morenci advanced the ball again before losing possession on an interception.
Once again, the Bulldog defense held fast and Morenci took over at midfield. The Bulldogs advanced to the BD 28 before losing yardage on a penalty and punting the ball. Taking over on their own 12, the Patriots' Tristan Pizana caught a pass and ran for an 89-yard touchdown for the first score of the game at 6:46 in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs were forced to punt, but got the ball back after recovering a Patriot fumble. Morenci was pushed back twice with penalties then lost possession when quarterback Torin Merillat was intercepted. League-leading rusher Leighton Merritt broke tackles for a 26-yard scoring run and a 15-0 lead.
After a Morenci fumble, BD got into position to attempt a field goal with time running out in the half, but Eli Decker blocked it and Austin Sandusky picked up the ball on the run and raced to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown run. Hayze Wolf carried for the conversion to make it a 15-8 game.
Monroe Daily News staff member Doug Donnelly, who keeps a record of Tri-County Conference sports statistics, doesn’t recall that a blocked field goal attempt has ever resulted in a touchdown during TCC play.
"We wanted to get a stop to start the second half," Coach McDowell said, but some defensive breakdowns got in the way.
Merritt capped a drive in the third quarter with a one-yard run and the Patriots threatened later in the quarter until Austin Thomas intercepted on the two-yard line.
After the Bulldogs punted, Merritt drove through defenders early in the fourth quarter for a 33-yard touchdown. BD's final score came with 6:49 to play when Brandt Swinderman covered 33 yards to the end zone.
"We had some shoddy tackling in the second half," McDowell said. "They'd run through the line, we'd have them stopped, but then they would scoot on through."
Thomas finished with 43 yards rushing, followed by Wolf with 41 and Sandusky with 33. Wolf led the defense with 12 tackles and Kendrick Taylor notched 10.
JV FOOTBALL: After playing Whiteford to a 32-32 tie Oct. 11, Morenci’s junior varsity football team came back to down Britton-Deerfield 52-6.
The Bulldogs’ season got off to a shaky start with three consecutive losses, but that’s when everything changed. Morenci logged five victories and a tie to finish the season at 5-3-1. The wins included two shut-outs and two games with only single touchdowns scored by the opponents.
“Over that span we out-scored our opponents 238 to 58,” coach Tim Roberts said. “The kids really responded and decided to take things in the right direction. It’s a great group of kids.”
Against BD, the Bulldogs scored three times in each of the first two quarters. Brandon DiCenso scored all three of the first-quarter touchdowns and Alex Decker caught the conversion pass on one of them.
In the second quarter, Mike Heinze scored on an 11-yard run and Alex Thomas caught a pass from Chris Hinkley for a 16-yard touchdown. DiCenso raced 45 yards for the next score and Decker caught the conversion pass. In the fourth quarter, Bobby Black covered 50 yards on a touchdown run.
The Bulldogs finished with 468 yards on the ground and 87 in the air.
Thomas carried six times for 102 yards, caught four passes for 48 yards, and was good on five of six passes for 51 yards. DiCenso was next in total yards with 195 on the ground and one 32-yard pass.
Defensive statistics were not available, but Roberts said his defenders were strong with two interceptions
The defensive line played well as well as the secondary with two interceptions. BD’s only score came after the Bulldogs fumbled on their own seven-yard line.
WHITEFORD—The Bobcats had a big third quarter to take a 32-26 lead, but Morenci managed to tie it up midway through the fourth quarter. The conversion attempt failed and the game ended in a tie.
Morenci took the lead in the first quarter on a 74-yard touchdown run by Austin Gilson. In the second quarter, Thomas scored on a 36-yard run and DiCenso scored from four yards out for an 18-8 lead.
Thomas ran a kickoff back for a 72-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but the Bobcats scored twice more to take the lead. Heinze’s run at 7:07 in the fourth tied it up.
Gilson led the offense numbers with 91 yards on eight carries. Thomas tallied 67 and Heinze finished with 66 yards. Hunter Borton caught one pass for 30 yards.
It was another good day for the defensive line, Coach Roberts said.
“The defense as a whole gave up one big play and really only one good drive,” he said. “Whiteford returned our kickoff for 66 yards setting up a short field right after we returned their kick for a touchdown.”
Playing to a tie was a strange feeling, he said, since he thought the squad played well enough to win.
MORENCI VOLLEYBALL: Morenci's volleyball squad pushed aside a disappointing string of matches to put their season back on track by adding a pair of league wins last week. Wins against Clinton and Summerfield cemented the Bulldogs' hold on third place below undefeated Whiteford and second-place Madison.
"It was a big win given the recent struggles and that Clinton had just beaten us on Saturday at the county meet," Morenci coach Dennis Owens said. "It was good volleyball by both teams, with the exception of the third set."
Morenci won the first two close games, 25-22 and 25-22, then slipped in the third 12-25, but came back to edge the Redskins 26-24 for the win.
"We had great effort and tremendous teamwork," Owens said. "Our back-row movement was very good and kept many rallies going. As a team we were 72 for 76 serving."
The Bulldogs were down 11-14 in the opening game when Breanna Gilson served five straight points. Clinton came back to tie it up at 18, 20 and 22 when Morenci got a side-out to go up on top 23-22. Erin Vanderpool went to the serving line to finish it out for the win.
In game two Clinton went up 4-0 before Hannah Jeffers served and Morenci went up 6-4. The game stayed close—was tied at 20-20—when the Bulldogs pulled away for a 25-22 win.
Morenci lost focus in game three for a big Clinton win, but the Bulldogs got back on track for game four. Clinton went up 19-14 before Morenci came back to tie it up at 22-22 and again at 24-24.
"At this point we got a side out and then Hannah served an ace for the win and to finish the match," Coach Owens said.
Statistics: Brooke Bovee, 24 kills, 1 block, 17 digs, 10/11 serving. Jeffers, 9 kills, 2 blocks, 15 digs, 21/23 serving, 4 aces and 14 points. Gilson, 21 assists, 6 kills, 17/17 serving, 1 ace and 10 points.
Emma Binegar, 15 assists, 1 kill, 11/11 serving. Erin Vanderpool, 9 digs, 9/10 serving. Jessica Storrs, 14/14 serving, 1 ace. Ashley VanBrandt, 3 blocks, 4 kills.
SUMMERFIELD—The Bulldogs needed to make adjustments in a trip Thursday to Summerfield, but they still came home with a win in three games.
Morenci took the opener 25-18, eked out a win for the second game, 26-24, and ended it with a decisive 25-11 win.
"We served and received their serves very well," Owens said. "We had to overcome an injury to Taylor Schisler in the third game and we were without one of our front row subs as Allison Piercy was ill."
In game one the score was tied at seven when the Bulldogs got a side out and Vanderpool stepped up to serve five straight points with key kills by Bovee and Jeffers during the run.
"In game two we had a 24-17 lead when Summerfield ran off seven straight points to tie the game at 24," Owens said. "We then got the side out and Erin served the final point."
Schisler hurt her back when Morenci had a 5-2 lead. With Piercy out sick, Owens had no front row players to take Schisler’s place.
"So I put Julie Terry in and we adjusted our defense with only two front row players and the girls did a great job of adjusting and pulled away for a big victory," Coach Owens said.
At one point in game three, Jessica Storrs served eight points in a row. All 11 who played made key contributions, Owens said.
The win raises Morenci's overall record to 16-13-2 and 9-4 in the TCC. The Bulldogs finished off the league season Tuesday at Britton-Deerfield.
Statistics: Bovee, 18 kills, 1 block, 19 digs, 10/10 serving. Jeffers, 9 kills, 1 block, 21 digs, 8/10 serving. Gilson, 13 Assists, 4 kills, 18/18 serving, 3 aces 12 points.
Binegar, 9 Assists, 7/8 serving. Vanderpool, 12 digs, 16/16 in service reception, 10/10 serving. Storrs, 18/18 serving, 12 points, 8 digs. VanBrandt, 2 kills, 4 digs. Hilary Falor, 1 kill. Schisler, 1 kill. Terry, 2 digs. Chloe Molitierno, 1 dig.
JV VOLLEYBALL: Morenci’s JV volleyball team dropped a league contest to Summerfield Thursday in three games and advanced to the quarterfinals of the county tournament on Saturday.
At Summerfield, the Bulldogs controlled the first game before losing the final two. Justis McCowan was a perfect 16 for 16 from the serving line and Sydney Weeks missed only one of 16 serves.
Morenci got off to a slow start in the county event, falling to Clinton and Lenawee Christian School, before rebounding for a 25-18, 25-21 win against Sand Creek.
The Bulldogs’ 2-4 pool play record placed them as eighth seed in the championship bracket.
Ali VanBrandt served 10 straight points to put Morenci ahead 11-3 against Hudson, but the Tigers came back to win. Rebecca Heinze was key in the final two games with four kills and a dozen attacks as Morenci knocked Hudson out of the bracket with the three-game win.
The quarterfinal match pitted the Bulldogs against the eventual champions from Blissfield. Morenci played some of its best volleyball of the season in the middle of the first game, coming from behind at 9 -18 to push the score to 17-19. The run ended and Blissfield recovered to win 25-22.
The back row had plenty of action in the second game as the taller Blissfield squad was able to place balls around the blockers and ended Morenci's day with a final game defeat of 17-25.