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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's and women's cross country teams hosted the annual running of the Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational on Saturday (Sept. 8) at FSU's Katke Golf Course in Big Rapids.
The event included both collegiate men's and women's races along with prep boys and girls competitions. Both college races were non-scoring events.
The collegiate women's 5K race was won by Anna Rudd, who was running unattached, in a time of 17:50.31. Six of the next seven runners were Ferris State participants.
FSU's Samantha Johnson claimed second place (18:29.55) followed by the Bulldogs' Alyssa Osika in third place (19:00.60). Ferris State's Kristie LeSage was fifth (19:29.17) with Breeann Ovokaitys coming in sixth (20:14.56) and Haleigh Przybylek taking eighth place (20:54.89).
The Bulldogs' Kayla Smith was 10th (21:05.13) as FSU had seven of the top 10 finishers in the 22-runner women's field.
On the men's side, Ferris State had the top three finishers and five of the top six overall were affiliated as FSU team runners. The Bulldogs' Spencer Gerber was the individual champion in the 8K race as he was clocked in 26:09.52.
Gerber was followed by FSU's Andrew Harper in second place (26:33.13) with Bill King taking fourth (26:48.42), Michael Schulte finishing fifth (27:12.14) and Connor LaRowe netting a sxith-place individual finish (27:12.14).
Several runners also competed in unattached fashion.
The prep girls 5K team race was won by Kenowa Hills with 33 points while Traverse City West was second with 48 points. Kenowa Hills netted 37 points in winning the prep boys 5K chase and Evart finished as the runner-up with 53 points.
The Bulldog men's and women's cross country teams will return to action on Friday, Sept. 14, at the Michigan State Spartan Invitational in East Lansing, Mich.
The Ray Helsing Bulldog Invitational was renamed in 2010 in honor of former coach Ray Helsing, who guided the Bulldog cross country along with track and field programs from 1968-82. Helsing was inducted into the Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001 and tutored more All-Americans than any coach in FSU history. He helped produce 20 All-Americans in cross country and track from 1968-82 and was best known for founding and coaching Ferris cross country, leading his teams to a 77-17 dual meet mark and four Great Lakes Conference titles.
This year (2012) marked the 37th-straight (38th overall) running of the Bulldog Invitational and either a men's or women's collegiate event has been held each year since 1976.
The first men's race was held in 1971 before being discontinued and restarted in 1976. Ferris did not participate in men's cross country from 1994-98. The women's invitational has been held every year since the program began in 1980. Saturday's run was the 33rd consecutive women's race.
The Ferris State men's and women's cross country teams are guided by former Bulldog standout and current fifth-year head coach Steve Picucci. The Bulldog women are ranked seventh nationally in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division II Preseason National Rankings along with second in the Midwest Region while the men's team is listed fifth in the regional rankings and 30th in the country.