The boys cross country team from Hart dominated the West Michigan Conference by winning all three jamborees and the conference meet. The Pirates also brought home a Division 3 regional title and finished runner-up in the state finals for the second year in a row with a team score of 146.
Following close behind Hart throughout the entire conference season was Whitehall. The Vikings had a fourth-place finish in their Division 2 regional meet. Three individuals from Whitehall qualified for the state meet.
Each team has representation in the race to see who is named the boys cross country runner of the year in the 2021 VanDyk Mortgage West Michigan Conference Player of the Year series.
Hart’s Clayton Ackley and Noah Bosley, along with Whitehall’s Andre Richmond, have been nominated by a CatchMark SportsNet panel as finalists for the award.
Voting for the conference player of the year in all fall sports will open this Friday, after we’ve had a chance to announce the nominees in each sport.
Fan polls of all sports will be released in one story on our site. That’s where readers will determine who earns player of the year recognition. Readers will be allowed to vote once per hour as long as the poll remains open.
Once players of the year are determined by fan votes and announced by CatchMark, we will invite the winners to our office in downtown Whitehall for an awards presentation and honorary dinner. A trophy that stays in our CatchMark office will have the names of the players of the year engraved on it.
In the coming days, look for stories announcing the nominees for girls cross country and boys tennis. A football story published on Friday, followed by a volleyball story on Saturday, a boys soccer story on Sunday and a girls golf story on Monday.
Here are the three nominees for the conference player of the year award in boys cross country, along with their season stats and achievements. They are listed alphabetically:
As the top finisher all season for the Pirates, Ackley set the bar for his teammates and other competitors in the conference. The leader comes from a strong blood line of successful runners from Hart. The Ackley and the Enns families have contributed standout runners for years at Hart.
Ackley was an essential component to the Pirates’ journey to a conference championship and their second-place state finals finish.
In 14 meets this season, Ackley walked away as the top runner seven times. Although Clayton only ran in three out the four conference jamborees, he claimed the gold medal in all three of those events. In every meet besides two, Ackley placed in the top 10.
Ackley placed first in the WMC meet, third at their Division 3 regional, and 10th at the Division 3 state finals where he set his personal record with a time of 16:19.4.
Bosley won only one meet this season, but that isn’t an accurate representation of the contribution that he had to Hart’s cross country program. The driven runner ensured that only a fellow Pirate finished before him throughout the majority of the fall.
The senior standout was part of Hart’s winning duo that includes fellow Player of the Year nominee, Clayton Ackley. The two dominated the conference leader boards with first- and second-place finishes in all of the meets they both participated in. Bosley contributed to a conference title, a regional title and a fourth-place state finals finish for the Pirates.
In 12 meets this season, Bosley had one first-place finish, three second-place finishes and seven top-10 finishes. At the Shepherd Blue Jay invite, Noah set a personal record of 16:35.7.
Bosley placed second in the WMC meets he competed in, fourth in the regional, and 29th at the Division 3 state finals.
As Whitehall’s top runner, Richmond made significant strides as a competitor in the WMC cross country scene. The junior led the Vikings to a second-place finish in the league and a fourth-place finish in their Division 2 regional.
Richmond was overall leader for the Vikings and a common name found at the top of the leaderboard throughout the conference.
In 14 meets this season, Richmond secured a first-place finish at the Fruitport Invitational, and a dozen top 10-finishes throughout the fall. He broke the 17-minute mark for his personal record of 16:56.9 during the second conference jamboree at Montague High School.
Richmond placed second in the WMC meet, ninth in the Division 2 regional and 111th at the Division 2 state finals.
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