On a very rainy Saturday August 30th morning our club again hosted the annual Harper Creek Optimist High School Cross Country Invitational event at Harper Creek High School Sports Complex. Our club has hosted this event since the early 1970’s and for the first few years the event was held at what is now the Binder Park Zoo African Exhibit. The event has also been held at the former Wattles Park Junior High School where the runners ran through Kimball Pines Park and also at Riverside Elementary School. During the 90’s the Optimist Club started providing refreshments for runners and anyone who attended the event free of charge. This year almost 900 hot dogs were served along with chips, cookies, candy, apples, McDonald’s orange drink and coffee. Special thanks to long-time Optimist member and past distinguished president, Dr. Gary Gymer, for again chairing and organizing the event and to all members who donated their time so we could successfully provide this youth project to the community.
Eleven High Schools from southern Michigan competed in this year’s event. The competition was divided into 4 races with a Freshman – Sophomore race for both girls and boys and a Junior –Senior races for both girls and boys. The top five runners from each school in both the girls and boys races compiled the schools score. Hanover-Horton won the boys event and Bridgman finished second. Gull Lake took third place and Harper Creek finished fourth. Joey Dawson from Gull Lake won the boys race in a time of 17:07. Gull Lake won the girls event and Harper Creek finished second. Gull Lake also had the top girl finisher: Lily Fell in 20:55. Times were a little slower than anticipated due to the rain and slippery running surface, which wound through trails in a wooded area located on the south side of the Harper Creek School grounds.