For Niles senior Devin Tomlinson, winning Saturday’s Berrien County Cross Country Meet at Madeline Bertrand Park was something special.
Earlier this year, he captured the Viking Stampede on the Niles home course, which he called greatest feeling he had in his cross country career.
“Winning this is tied with that,” Tomlinson said. “Winning this is just awesome.”
Tomlinson started the race in fifth place and decided to let the other runners go out first.
His plan was to control the race from his position in the field.
“Knowing the course, I knew when to sprint ahead,” he said. “I really just controlled the race. I took over first place in the last half-mile. I knew I could sprint the rest of the race and beat him.”
Tomlinson ran a time of 17:09 to defeat runner-up Will Lage, of St. Joseph, by six seconds.
Niles coach Tony Todd said that Tomlinson was ready for Saturday’s race.
“Devin has done everything we have asked of him,” Todd said. “Except for the times, which could be a little better. But he has run strong all year. He will be fine going into regionals, and I expect him to go to state.”
St. Joseph swept the team titles, as the boys squad edged Berrien Springs by a single point, 51-52, while the girls team easily outdistanced Lakeshore 36-53.
The Vikings finished third in both races.
Niles’ Kaylee Thompson was second overall to the Bears’ Anna Fischer, who ran a time of 19:06 to take first-place.
Thompson posted a time of 20:08.
“I was hoping to place in the top two,” said Niles coach Jamie Foster. “It is always competitive between us and Lakeshore and St. Joe.”
Foster said that Thompson needed to get out in front of the field Saturday to have a chance at the end.
“She is running the race that she should,” she said. “She narrowed the gap with Anna Fischer today a little bit and I was pleased with that. But if she does not start out fast, she does not run a good race.
“She has tried it before where she laid back, so here race is starting out fast and then settling in.”
The Vikings will be back at Madeline Bertrand Park on Wednesday, as the host of the SMAC West jamboree.
courtesy of Niles Daily Star