When Olivet joined the Greater Lansing Activities Conference in 2014, the Leslie girls and the Stockbridge boys were clearly the class of the league when it came to cross country.
And while the Olivet girls’ team seemed to be at least within reaching distance of Leslie, the Eagle boys were not even in the same stratosphere as the powerful Panthers — not to mention a couple of other GLAC schools.
Well, what a difference a couple of years can make!
On Saturday morning on a flat and fast Maple Valley course, both teams accomplished something that seemed improbable just a short time ago. The Olivet girls clinched an outright league title by placing first in the GLAC Championships. As for the boys, who placed sixth in the GLAC in 2015, they finished second on Saturday en route to runner-up honors in the final conference standings.
“This league title for the girls is huge,” Olivet coach Mike Spoelstra said. “We have been battling with Leslie the last couple of years, actually missing being co-champs by only three points last season. This is a well-deserved title.
“But the boys, to me, are just as big a story,” he added. “We got a lot of help from some new recruits, veterans stepping up, and having the right captains leading the way.”
The top five Lady Eagles finished 2-3-4-7-12 on Saturday, good for 28 points – 16 better than second-place Leslie. Olivet freshman Autumn Wietzke continued her late-season dominance, crossing the line second in 20:04. Senior teammates Teona Feldpausch (20:20) and Morgan Greenman (20:22) weren’t far behind, finishing third and fourth, respectively.
Also scoring for the Lady Eagles were freshman Miranda Barnes, seventh in 20:41; and junior Kaylee Richardson, 12th in 21:17. Olivet junior Hazel Anderson (13th in 21:19) placed ahead of Leslie’s fifth runner as well.
The top seven finishers on Saturday earned All-GLAC first-team honors, while the next seven were named All-GLAC second-team.
In the boys’ race, Olivet sophomore Isaac Waffle placed fifth in 16:36 – resulting in his second All-GLAC first-team award in as many seasons. Other Eagle scorers were Sam Smith, 15th in 17:56; Colton Graves, 16th in 17:57; Joe Fudge, 23rd in 18:28; and Devin Feldpausch, 25th 18:44.
Stockbridge won the boys’ race with 24 position points, compared to 80 for Olivet and 81 for Lansing Christian.
Spoelstra agrees that Olivet’s rise to GLAC prominence is exciting, but he also feels his two teams have a lot left in their proverbial tanks.
“Since last year, my girls have been hungry for another state meet bid, and they have been training with that in mind,” he explained. “The boys, seeing what the girls accomplished last year, are pushing to do the same for themselves this year.”
Spoelstra went on to mention that the main difference between this season and previous seasons involves the attitudes of his runners.
“We are one team, one family,” he said. “From the slowest to our fastest, girl or boy, they have all…been working their butts off with one goal in mind – and that is ‘let’s get to state.’ We will, God willing, find out next Saturday.”
The “next Saturday” Spoelstra was referring to is the October 29 MHSAA Division 3 Regional Meet at Sharp Park in Jackson. The boys’ race starts at 1:00 PM, followed by the girls’ event at approximately 1:40 PM.