CHAMPION - It doesn't matter if the race is held on a wooded trail or a golf course. Lindsey Rudden of Marquette Senior High School dominates every prep cross country meet she enters.
The freshman did it again Tuesday, capturing the girls' individual title at the Westwood Challenge held at the Wawonowin Country Club in Champion.
Rudden, who has won every race she has entered this season, covered the 3.1-mile course in 18:38. Ashley Laux of Houghton finished a distant second in 20:57, while Redette Shayla Huebner came in third at 21:02.
Marquette freshman Lindsey Rudden finishs first for the girls in the Westwood Challenge at the Wawonowin Country Club on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
Negaunee’s Keenan Gantz finishes fourth in the first heat of the Westwood Challenge at Wawonowin Country Club on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
The competition featured a multiple start, where the top runners of all the teams entered start first, then the No. 2 runners go after five minutes, and so on.
Houghton took the girls' team title with 14 points, with MSHS second at 16 and Dollar Bay third at 23.
Kingsford claimed the boys' crown behind individual winner Dan Kulas with 13 points. Houghton (18) and Marquette (19) followed.
Rudden ruled her race, even though she lost some time when she took a wrong turn.
"The course is a little confusing," she said. "At the beginning, I took a wrong turn and lost 6-8 seconds. It's hard to tell the cones.
"I led the whole time, even though I made the wrong turn."
Rudden says it's getting more difficult to win every race.
"My mom tells me it's hard to be a success and harder to stay a success," she said. "It's hard to stay on top. There's lot of pressure since I'm a freshman."
MSHS head coach Dale Phillips said Rudden's desire sets her apart from other runners.
"She's a hard worker in practice," he said. "Her competitive nature is great and she sets a pace that no one can keep up with."
Houghton captured the team title behind race No. 6 winner Rachel Chard (21:55) and five second place finishers.
"All my girls ran strong, but my 4-6 runners really picked it up," said Gremlins head coach Traci Welch, whose squad took its first win of the season. "They had stronger races than they normally do.
"I'm really pleased."
In the boys' competition, Kulas posted a time of 16:42 to easily outdistance the field. Jacob Colling of Houghton finished second with a 17:02, while Lance Rambo of Marquette came in third at 17:11.
"I took a lead about one mile into the race and pulled away in the second mile," Kulas said. "I finished about six seconds off my personal best (time).
"The first two miles, I just wanted to open a gap between me and the Houghton kid (Colling). The third mile, I just wanted to finish strong."
Kingsford head coach Dan Carey said Kulas has been "supper consistent" all season.
"He looked like he was jogging out there today," the coach said. "He's a workhorse and trains hard every day.
"If you would look at his (practice) running log, I bet he hasn't missed a day all year."
The Flivvers posted either a first or second place finish in six of the seven races.
"It just shows you need all seven runners to be competitive." Carey said. "We're pretty consistent and it's nice to get a win."
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251.