Houghton boys team first, girls second at Westwood Challenge

CHAMPION – It was warm, it was breezy and they competed in a race they’re not accustomed to running.

Cross country runners Cole Rieboldt and Lindsey Rudden didn’t let it stop them Tuesday, however.

Rieboldt won the boys’ individual title and Rudden claimed the girls’ crown at the annual Westwood Challenge held at the Wawonowin Country Club.

Houghton placed first in the 11-team boys’ meet with 12 points to runner-up Marquette’s 16. Negaunee came in third with 19.

Marquette took top honors in the girls’ competition with seven points. Houghton finished second with 18, while Calumet came in third with 28.

A senior in his first year of cross country, Rieboldt covered the course in a personal-best time of 16:37 to remain undefeated on the season.

“It was tough with the heat,” he said. “I didn’t work out hard before coming here and it affected me.

“The wind was pretty gusty at the start, but the main factor for me was the sun.”

It didn’t take Rieboldt long to break away from the pack and he beat runner-up David Jaszczak of Houghton by 42 seconds. Lance Rambo of MSHS – racing in the second stage – copped third overall in 17:22.

The competition featured a multiple start, where the top runners of all the teams entered go off first, then the No. 2 runners start after five minutes, and so on.

“There was no one on my back today, so it was all mental,” Rieboldt said. “I looked back and saw I had a good lead.

“The target on my back keeps getting bigger and bigger, though.”

Jaszczak said he kept with Rieboldt as long as he could.

“I stayed with him for about a half-mile, but he’s fast,” the Houghton runner said. “He’s a good runner.

“I tried to keep up with him, but then I slowed down. I lost some endurance.”

Houghton coach Traci Welch said Jaszczak is coming off a hip/groin injury.

“He hasn’t run a lot of races, but he had a nice race today,” she said.

Welch added she wasn’t surprised by her team defending the boys’ title.

“I thought we could do it. We have some good depth,” she said. “I knew if my 5-through-7 runners would have good races, we’d pull it out. And they did.”

MSHS head coach Dale Phillips said his boys, despite finishing second, “gave it all they had.”

“We were without our No. 4 and No. 6 runners, but we still did well,” he said. “Cole turned in his best 5-kilometer time of the year. He’s bringing his times down every race.”

Rudden, meanwhile, cruised in her race and remained unbeaten this season despite making two wrong turns on the course.

“I should have finished in 20 fewer seconds, but I made those wrong turns,” the sophomore said after coming in at 18:57. “(Meet officials) changed the course. If they had marked it better, I would have enjoyed it more.

“But I’m happy with my time. I was still under 20 minutes.”

She also said her performance was all mental, as no one was close behind her.

“I’m used to running with (teammate) Amber Huebner. I feed off her energy,” Rudden said.

Huebner came in second with a time of 19:19 in the second stage while Calla Martysz of MSHS finished third overall with a 19:47 in the third stage.

The MSHS girls captured all seven stages, with Huebner, Calla Martysz, Nichole Mackey, Cassidy Thomas, Shayla Huebner and Abby Potts also winning.

“Lindsey is a special runner, but our depth came through,” Phillips said. “All of our seven runners had great times – three of them were below 20 minutes.

“We have a good, veteran team.”