Bay College cross country

Dennis Grall | Daily Press Zoie Berg of Bay College runs along a path at Beauchamp’s Grove Saturday during Bay’s Quality Inn cross country invitational in Flat Rock. She finished third.

FLAT ROCK — Bay College sophomore Zoie Berg surprised herself Saturday, placing third in the Bay College Quality Inn and Suites Invitational cross country meet.

The Gladstone graduate covered the 3.1-mile course at Beauchamp’s Grove in a personal-best 21 minutes, two seconds on this sunny and seasonably cool morning.

“I was excited,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d do that well. This is my best time, even faster than any road races I’ve done. I wanted to do the first mile in 6:40 and I had 6:18. I was well ahead of pace. It was nice to do a 5K.”

The Lake Superior State women grabbed six of the top seven places and won with 18 points. The Norse scored 44 and Sault (Ont.) College didn’t field a complete team.

Becca Lathrop, a junior from downstate Eaton Rapids, won at 20:32, 14 seconds ahead of sophomore Alexis Passino of Indian River.

“This is a pretty good course,” said Lathrop. “It’s a little rocky, but I love the course. Yesterday (Friday) it was pretty windy and we were a little worried about coming over here, but it turned out to be a perfect day for a race.”

Bay freshman and Escanaba grad Lauren Cousineau took eighth (24:39).

“Zoie had a real nice race and the team did real well,” said Norse coach Jim Murtha. “The girls are training hard and smart. This is a big improvement from last week. Last week’s meet (Spartan Invitational) definitely helped for today. Everybody is pushing everybody, which is good.”

The Lake State men captured eight of the nine top spots and the title with 15 points, followed by Sault College 60 and Bay 65.

Lakers’ sophomore David Mitter of Howell, Mich. retained his 8-K (five-mile) title at 26:32. Dylan Brown, running unattached, was runner-up (26:53) and Lake State’s Garrett Smith took third (27:04).

“Garrett and I were talking about going out with the top guys and after two miles we picked it up,” said Mitter, who has been nursing an Achilles injury since July. “This is my first race back and it felt good to be back.”

Freshman James Young of Gladstone was Bay’s pacesetter in 10th (30:29).

“James absolutely ran well,” said Murtha. “He cut 2 1/2 minutes off his time trial (Sept. 7) on this course.”

Lakers’ coach Rob Gallinger was naturally pleased with the results.

“We came in here knowing this was a smaller meet and would be competing with ourselves and the clock, and we saw some improvement,” he said. “This was more of a self-test and a gauge of where we are at this point in the season.”

This year’s meet was held a week earlier than a year ago when six schools were represented.

“We had to switch the date of our home meet to match up with the date of the Roy Griak Invitational,” said Bay athletic director Matt Johnson. “We have to run our (NJCAA) Region 13 meet at Minneapolis on Saturday, which took a few schools that were here last year out of the mix.

“I’ve been told they’re all interested in coming back next year. We’re hoping to have a high school meet, too. We hope to make it bigger and better each year. It would be great for the high school kids to see the college runners run. It would also be a recruiting tool for the collegiate coaches.”

Bay is entered in Division 3 of the Roy Griak meet and will run against Miles City (Mont.) for the regional title.