MARYSVILLE — Rachel Bonner owns the Marysville Invitational.
Well, she owns most races, really, but the final meeting of most of the teams in the Blue Water Area has been dominated by Bonner since her sophomore year. On Thursday, the Port Huron senior won the race for the third straight time, finishing with a time of 19 minutes, 10 seconds, 44 seconds ahead of St. Clair’s Gabby Morton who finished second.
“This is like the last time I face all the people in the area, and these are the people that have seen me since my freshman year,” Bonner said. “They’ve been in our jamborees, and all of the smaller invites when I first started winning and finding that I was coming up in the sport. It’s just really cool to come here again, every year. This is just a cool atmosphere.”
Bonner’s time was the fastest she’s run at the Marysville Invitational, a good sign that the work she’s doing to peak in November is working. She’ll get a better idea of that on Saturday, however, when she runs in the ultra-competitive Portage Invitational, which she won a year ago.
“It’s a lot of base training, strong base training and uses races like this as tempos and really focusing on a couple races where I know I want to run fast,” Bonner said. “There’s a lot of girls (at Portage) that have already ran very fast. It won’t be easy. Last year, with a mile to go, I took it and had the lead. It’s a different year, so you never know what can happen.
“A lot of the girls who were freshmen last year are now sophomores and they have experience, so now they’re going to be tough.”
St. Clair’s boys are also looking for a strong showing at Portage, and like Bonner, managed to dominate their race. The Saints put all seven runners in the top 11, led by a 1-2 finish from Jack Keais (16:53) and Derek LaDuke (17:10). Brendan Parr was fourth (17:10), Josh Williams was sixth (17:26) and Jacob Redlawski was eighth (17:28). Collin Higgins (10th, 17:37) and Walker Child (11th, 17:39) didn’t score for the Saints, but would have been the No. 1 runner for 12 of the 15 other teams, and no lower than third for any.
“When you have two meets in a week, we just make it part of our speed training – it’s basically like a good, strong tempo run,” St. Clair coach Jon Davidson said. “We didn’t light it up with times, and I told them, ‘I don’t want you to worry about times today, I just want you to compete.’
“Seven in the top 11, I’ll take that. They got out there and competed. Now, Morgan (Beadlescomb of Algonac) wasn’t running, and the three Northern boys weren’t running, but still, they got up there and competed with who ran. I was very happy with the performance.”
The Saints finished with 21 points, 52 ahead of Yale, which placed second. The Bulldogs earned their second straight win against Croswell-Lexington, which has both Blue Water Area Conference jamborees under its belt. The Pioneers finished with 110 points.
Yale was led by Brendan Macias, who was third with a time of 17:09, as he led the non-St. Clair runners in the race. Other runners in the top 20 were Yale’s Carlos Soto (fifth, 17:23), Anchor Bay’s Michael Zedan (seventh, 17:27), Cros-Lex’s Max Whittredge (ninth, 17:34), Yale’s Andrew Vincent (12th, 17:50), Marine City’s Blaik Haney (13th, 18:02), Cros-Lex’s Jarred Jolley (14th, 18:03), Marysville’s Jacob Turpell (15th, 18:18), Almont’s Josh Phelps (16th, 18:20), Imlay City’s Paul Rodriguez (17th, 18:26), Anchor Bay’s Tyler Pulk (18th, 18:28), Port Huron Northern’s Cameron Petrossi (19th, 18:31) and Marysville’s Cody Hepinstall (20th, 18:32).
Anchor Bay won the girls team race, riding a strong front pack of Mackenzie Steveler (ninth, 20:57), Mackenzie Rahn (10th, 21:02) and Jillian Alongi (11th, 21:03). Katherine Greenberg was 22nd in 21:42 for the Tars, while Emily Westphal was 25th in 21:48.
The Tars finished with 77 points, 18 ahead of Croswell-Lexington, which bested third-place Marysville by 32 points.
Other runners in the top 20 were St. Clair’s Morgan Markel (third, 20:06), Northern’s Ashley Defrain (fourth, 20:25), Imlay City’s Camylle Velazquez-Fuentes (fifth, 20:26), Yale’s Megan Dunsmore (sixth, 20:40), Cros-Lex’s Calli Townsend (seventh, 20:45), Marysville’s Kenzie Weingartz (eighth, 20:53), Reese’s Kaitlyn TerBush (12th, 21:04), Imlay City’s Ericka Lathrop (13th, 21:04), Cros-Lex’s Miranda Cates (14th, 21:05) and Megan Cates (15th, 21:15), Lapeer’s Hannah Schultz (16th, 21:18), Marysville’s Audrey Sylvia (17th, 21:24) and Makenna Hill (18th, 21:34), and Marine City’s Samantha Bieth (19th, 21:35) and Sarah Cullimore (20th, 21:40).