The Lake Orion varsity men’s cross country team finished in first place out of seven teams at the Anchor Bay Early Bird Invitational on Sept. 2.
“The Lake Orion men’s cross country team had a good start to 2021 with their first meet of the season,” said Coach Stan Ford.
Lake Orion dominated the invitational, finishing with a score of 17, followed by New Baltimore Anchor Bay (64), Fraser (66), Port Huron Northern (113), Warren Cousino (130), Austin Catholic (163) and Algonac (195).
Lake Orion senior Adam Hafeli was the overall winner with a time of 16:26.9 in the 5,000-meter race, followed closely by senior Clayton Kuiper, 16:37.7, in second place and Hong Bing Tang, 16:43.7, in third place.
“The team’s goal was to keep in a pack and they did with junior Luke Peardon (17:07.7) and senior Will Houvener (17:11.7) coming in fifth and sixth, respectively. All five finished within 44 seconds (of each other),” Ford said.
Rounding out Lake Orion’s top seven finishers were senior Ronnie Leonard (17:44.1) in seventh place and junior Eddie Cromwell (17:55.7) in ninth.
“This year’s team consists of 52 runners, led by a group of experienced seniors. Top returnees are seniors Hong Bing Tang, Clayton Kuiper, Adam Hafeli and juniors Luke Peardon and Eddie Cromwell,” Ford said. “All have had a nice summer of conditioning that should really help them to take advantage of their 2020 meet experience.
“This group tied for the OAA League Championship and qualified for the state meet in 2020. If this group shows improvement and runs in a pack, 2021 should be a lot of fun!” Ford said.
The Dragons were 17th in the MHSAA Division 1 finals in 2020 and return four of their top five scorers from that team. Nicholas Laurent, the Dragons top runner last year, graduated this spring.
Lake Orion also has some depth and young runners who could make a contribution this year – and down the road.
Freshmen Samuel Lopez, Blake Peardon and Raymond Lucero II have looked good in practice, along with junior Nathan Yee and Brady Harwood and sophomore Michael Drakos. All performed well at the Anchor Bay meet, too,” Ford said.
The Dragons next race is Saturday at the Averill Invite. – Jim Newell