LAKEWOOD — Both the Belding Redskins boys and girls cross country teams got off to good starts to their 2012 seasons.
Each team placed second out of six at the season opening Lakewood Invitational, with the boys placing behind Ionia and the girls in a tight contest behind Hastings.
On the boys side, annual power Ionia placed first with 22 points while the Redskins had 49. Holland Black River followed with 70, Hastings 104, Maple Valley 116 and Lakewood 168.
Eric Rasch led the Belding boys with a time of 17:44. That was good for a third place overall finish. Brice Brown of Ionia was first with 17:14 and Brandon Winter of Ionia was second with 17:28.
“The guys had a strong day,” Belding coach John Carlson said. “Eric Rasch had a great summer with over 400 miles and it really showed today.”
Trevor Curtis was seventh overall in 18:12. Justin Belding, ninth overall, ran 18:34; Sam Syrjala, 14th, 19:00 and Mitchell Jenks, 16th, 19:12.
Carlson is excited for the season prospects, especially after a good start.
“The boys must stay healthy. They are so excited about working hard that I’ve had to make sure they don’t over do it,” he said. “If we can continue to cut time together as a pack, the season could be very productive.”
Hastings won the girls event with 47 points. The Redskins were close behind with 50 points. Ionia followed with 52, Holland Black River 89, Maple Valley 129 and Lakewood 158.
Monica Baylis led the Redskins with a time of 21:07, which was good for third overall.
Trista Straube of Hastings placed first with 20:25 and Allison Vroon of Holland Black Lake was second with 20:46.
In fourth was Belding’s Joesi Krieger with 22:21. Rachael Warner ran 23:03, Teresa Myles 23:37 and Mariah Carlson 23:50 for Belding.
“The girls team upset Ionia and almost got past Hastings,” Carlson said. “Monica Baylis and Joesi Krieger led the way. Our top seven runners were all freshman and sophomores.”
With such a young team, Carlson said the girls need to gain some experience.
“The girls team needs to get some experience,” he said. “We have four solid athletes, but we need three or four other girls to go from participants to competitors.”
The next run for the Redskins will be on Friday for the annual “Rivalry Run.” The run, it its seventh year, helps to kick off the football rivalry between Belding and the Greenville Yellow Jackets.
Local cross country athletes get together in a friendly, non-competitive manner between the two communities. This year’s run will travel from the newly designed Rudness Field in Belding to the new Legacy Field in Greenville. The event will begin at 8:45 a.m.
The route this year will be just under 11 miles. The public is invited to run along with the teams.
Belding’s next competition will take place at home when they host the Belding Earlybird on Wednesday.