Morenci has its second all-state cross country girl in school history following the state finals Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Bulldog junior Tatyana Pless finished among the top 30 runners in the Div. IV race to claim all-state honors, Morenci’s first girl to achieve the feat since Leonie VanderHoff in 2000.
Pless slipped into the top group with a 29th-place finish and her season best run at 20:10.5. Classmate Mariah Gillen just missed the cut by taking 34th place with her career best time of 20:17.8.
“I thought one of them might make it in for all-state and one wouldn’t,” said Morenci coach Brad Brown. “They were on the bubble and they’ve gone back and forth on who finishes first.”
Gillen was disappointed with her finish, he said, but Pless was the first one to console her with a hug when the results were announced.
Gillen qualified for the state meet as a freshman and Brown said it was a great accomplishment for her to return and produce a much better time.
Pless was also a qualifier in Div. III as a freshman and she made strong gains throughout the season.
“She really made tremendous strides,” said Coach Brown, “not just athletically but also in the team aspect.”
Those two could face even more of a challenge in their senior year, Brown noted, since only three of this season’s all-staters are seniors.
Sophomore Madi Gleckler placed 139th at 22:06, followed by sophomore Sammy Mikuski, 171st at 22:48; senior Taylor Baugh, 210th at 24:11; senior Maëlle Delhaise, 219th at 24:58; and freshman Andy Mikuski, 237th at 27:12.
Brown was pleased that Baugh was able to close out her career at the state finals.
Morenci finished 17th as a team, about where they were expected to end up based on rankings.
Morenci’s top male runner, Luke Spaulding, gave his career best time with a 63rd-place finish at 17:19.
“He saved his best for last,” Brown said about the senior, “and I can’t ask for more than that.”
Junior Reagan Stowell lowered his time to 18:16 for 135th place and senior Jake Spaulding was near his best at 18:49 for 176th.
“Both teams were incredibly enjoyable to work with,” Brown said. “I was happy with the season we had and I’m looking forward to next year.”
MORENCI VOLLEYBALL: Morenci’s volleyball team was ousted from the Class D district tournament at home last week by Lenawee Christian School.
The Cougars won the match in three sets and went on to win the district title Friday night against Camden-Frontier.
LCS toppled the Bulldogs 25-15, 25-17 and 25-19.
In the opening game, an ace serve by Emma Binegar kept the score close at 6-8, and when a serve from Hannah Jeffers wasn’t returned, the Bulldogs trailed 9-14. After that the Cougars opened up the scoring to claim a big win.
Morenci trailed by seven points early in the second set, but the Bulldogs fought back. Two kills from Breanna Gilson, a pair of aces from Erin Vanderpool, a tip from Binegar and a kill from Jeffers tightened the score to 13-18. Brooke Bovee scored a kill to make it 15-20 before LCS finished it off.
The Bulldogs trailed by 11 in the final game, 7-16, but rallied to pull within four points. Taylor Schisler added points with a block and a kill, and Ashley VanBrandt scored a kill. Bovee served an ace to make it 16-23 and Julie Terry added a point when she placed an attack into a hole.
Bovee scored one final kill for a 19-23 margin before the Cougars ended it.
Statistics: Bovee, 9 kills, 12/12 serving, 3 aces, 7 points; Gilson, 8 assists, 2 kills, 8/8 serving; Vanderpool, 6 digs, 7/8 serving, 2 aces, 5 points; Binegar, 3 assists, 4/4 serving, 1 ace;
Jessica Storrs, 8/10 serving, 1 ace; Jeffers, 1 kill, 1 block, 9/11 serving and 5 points; Schisler and VanBrandt each had 1 kill and 1 block; Allison Piercy, 1 kill; Terry, 3 digs and 1 kill.