Prep cross country: Marquette’s Rieboldt, Rudden cruise in 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 on 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 minutes, 37 seconds 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 – took third overall in 17:22.

The competition featured a multiple start, where the top runners of all the teams go off first, then the No. 2 runners start five minutes later, 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 Gremlins athlete said. “He’s a good runner.

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

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 (freshman 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 in 19:47 in the third stage.

The MSHS girls captured all seven stages, with Huebner, 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.”