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CULVER â€” Headed into the elite Culver Academies Invitational, Bremen head cross country coach Mickey Gardner didn't know how his team would fare.
The Lady Lions had been battling injuries in recent weeks, but they responded to the challenging field and beautiful weather Saturday with four of the top 20 places to win the girls closed race with a convincing 105, 20 points ahead of their closest competitors.
Hope Jordan paced the Lions in third place, while Amy Fanning, Sara Slabaugh and Megan Burcham finished in order in 12th, 14th and 18th en route to the championship.
"I didn't mention one thing to these girls about winning here today," said Gardner. "I just wanted to come down here and see how well we could do. Because I've been down here with a stud team a few years ago and we finished third, and you wanted to say 'How did we not win it?' and we went to semistate that year. This a huge meet when it comes to how well you do compared to everybody else."
The combination of an elite field of runners and the perfect conditions Saturday made for a number of personal bests among area runners.
Plymouth placed eighth with a 289, nine points ahead of sectional foe Culver Girls Academy in the small school race as all Emily Walden, Allasyn Slater, Gabi Ramirez, Hannah Eads and Katelyn Brashere all finished with PRs.
"Lots of PRs," said Plymouth head coach Jami Holm. "When you come to a meet this size, with the caliber of schools that are here you're expected to run a PR, and as far as varsity girls go every one of them PRd today, so I'm very happy. I'm only seeing their times drop now, which this is the time of year that you want that. I'm very pleased."