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Today the Happy Acres Invitational in Webberville was so much more than just winning, it was about everything and the look in the Nathan Lott’s eyes told more than any words could convey. He was staring off down the distance of the corn field consumed in emotion and at a loss for words. It wasn’t just that he had won his teams inaugural invitational, it wasn’t that he had just broken the school record. It was why he did. Nathan Lott of Webberville just ran the absolute best race any person could – and he did to honor his grandparents, the namesakes of the race itself. He spoke of how he just wanted to make them proud, his voice wavering off at the mention of their passing last year but his gaze never breaking down the corn field.
“I was pretty proud…I did it for my Grandma and Grandpa. This course was named after them after they passed away a year ago…it’s very special to me…I’m proud to run this course for the rest of my life here in Webberville…”
When he turned in for the final stretch Lott was all alone, yet he pressed on with everything he had buried in him. When he broke the line those gathered around were astonished and cheered with pride as they learned he had broken the Webberville school record with a new time of 16:30.75. He dominated the race in a way that is hard to understand, finishing 54 seconds ahead of second place, an admirable performance by Leslie’s Gavin Weber, and 79 seconds ahead of the third-place finisher Dansville’s Joseph Kadluboski. The Happy Acres Invitational was the inaugural invitational for Webberville, and came together with a group effort that sought to bring a nice racecourse together for the runners of Webberville and the surrounding communities.
“We put a lot of work into it over the summer. Coach Lott, Coach Glover and myself put a lot of time into it to make the course smooth, to make it really runner friendly, and try to make it where people could run good times, be safe and be competitive on it.” Webberville Cross Country Head coach Wes Diener said of the preparations for the race. “We had great weather, people had a great time and we had two great team champions in Leslie, we were happy they came out and made this a very competitive race. I’m very happy with how the meet went. I look forward to doing this again next year.”
The Leslie Blackhawks claimed both the men’s and ladies race championships. They were anchored by performances from Weber on the men’s side and Haley Ellis’ third place finish on the ladies’ side which was a race where every finisher mattered. Leslie ended up tying Bath for first with 42 points invoking the 6th place finisher tie-breaker, which saw Katelyn Serrels finish one place ahead of the Bath sixth place finisher. The women’s race was won by Lansing Christians’ Madison Volz (19:41:38) with freshman teammate Ashlyn Kephart finishing second (20:44.40). With the win, by default Volz set the course record, an accomplishment that Volz was particularly enjoying!
“It’s always fun, even if it’s fun to have the title!” Volz commented after the race. “The course was really nice; it was flat so I was able to get a better time than I did my first race (of the season). It’s nice to get back into the feel of running and gain some confidence for the rest of the season. “ Kephart, a Lansing Christian freshman had her second medal winning race with her placement today. “I’m pretty proud of how I came out today. It was a really good course!”
Though there were different runners achieving different objectives in the races today, the heart and soul of the race was undoubtedly Nathan Lott. His performance is continuing a distance running trajectory that is uncommon for Webberville, but not unnoticed, as coach Diener explained. “He’s going to help set an example of what you can do, especially for the other kids in high school and middle school coming up. He shows how good you can be if you put the work in. He’s really dedicated himself this season, especially these last couple of weeks. He’s had these moments of focus where he is really getting ready to run and it’s showing. Hopefully that will rub off on members of the school and members of the community. You put the work in you will have success in this game.”