Grass Lake High School cross country runner Kailee Sandoval earned first place in the Division 2 race at the Springport Invitational on Wednesday. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
While most runners put an emphasis on the number of miles ran over the summer, Grass Lake High School cross country runner Kailee Sandoval spent time in the weight room.
And it has paid off for the junior.
Sandoval won the girls’ Division 2 race at the Springport Invitational Wednesday at Springport High School. She ran the 5,000-meter course in just under 20 minutes.
She wasn’t the only winner at the annual invitational that attracts a number of Jackson County schools. Hanover-Horton easily won the Division 1 boys’ race with 24 points and Concord won the boys’ Division 3 race with 34 points.
Sandoval suffered a hamstring injury during the track and field season earlier in the year. She was only able to compete in three track meets last spring.
“In the back of my mind, the injury has been motivation for me,” Sandoval said. “The injury has taught me to run every race like it is your last.”
Sandoval said she used weight training and running intervals. She also went on three or four long runs – more than eight miles – a week.
She won by more than a minute at the Springport Invitational on Wednesday. It is her second invitational win of the season, taking first place at the Jackson Prep Invitational with a personal best of 19 minutes, 41 seconds.
Sandoval finished fifth at the regional meet in 2018 and qualified for the state meet. She ran 20:39 at Michigan International Speedway at the Division 3 state cross country finals, finishing in 61st place. She needed a time under 20 minutes to earn top-30 all-state honors.
“That is my goal … to make it back to the state meet and place in the top 30,” Sandoval said.
Skylar Thompson of Concord High School won the girls’ D-3 race in 20 minutes even. Concord finished second as a team earning a trophy.
Hanover-Horton placed three runners in the top five in earning first place in the boys’ D-1 race. Hanover-Horton results from that race were not available at www.athletic.net.
Concord runner Jonathan Mikovitz won the boys’ D-3 race in 17:05.
Northwest was eighth in the boys’ D-1 race, Michigan Center placed ninth, and Columbia Central was 10th.
Grass Lake and Manchester tied for second in the girls’ D-2 race, East Jackson was sixth, Springport earned seventh place, and Vandercook Lake was eighth.
Jackson Prep placed third in the boys’ D-3 race.
Hanover-Horton girls were fourth in the D-1 race, Michigan Center finished fifth, Columbia Central was seventh, and Northwest was eight.
Manchester boys won the D-2 race over Jonesville, Springport placed fifth, Grass Lake was sixth, East Jackson earned seventh place, and Vandercook Lake was eighth.