Hemlock State ChampionCross Country Teams (2001-02)
In 1946, Hemlock High School fielded its first-ever boys’ cross country team. That first-year squad would go on to win the Class C-D state championship, beating out neighboring Merrill. Fast forward to the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when the Huskies put together an incredible string of success. Led by head coach Bill Agresta and assistant coach Glenn Cunningham, Hemlock built a solid foundation by winning 56 cross country meets during a five-year stretch (1998-2002), including five Tri-Valley Conference titles, five Saginaw County championships, and three regional crowns. The Hemlock harriers finished third at the 1998 state championship meet, followed by a runner-up finish in 2000 – losing to Williamston, a team they had defeated in the regional. In 2001, the Huskies chalked up a 12-2 record in multi-team races and crowned both county and conference championships. Hemlock then captured the Division 3 state championship at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, despite being ranked second behind Williamston coming into the finals. Led by juniors Steve Czymbor, who finished third overall (16:03.20), and Nick Puchacz, who was seventh (16:23.20), Hemlock rolled to the title by finishing with 137 points. Benzie Central placed second (161) and Charlevoix third (162). Craig Madaleno was 34th (17:11.90), followed by Joe Frost in 40th (17:14.50), and Rob Slate in 55th place (17:29.20). Other HHS runners included Andrew Henne in 85th (17;57.00) and G.K. Drown in 150th (18:51.2). Frost, running on an injured shin, was the only Huskie runner to turn in a personal best. One year later Hemlock was 11-2 in multi-team races, while winning the conference and county meets. At the state meet the Huskies were running on all cylinders by again capturing the state championship, thus becoming the first and only high school in Saginaw County history to win more than one cross country state title. HHS had 90 first-place points, followed by Williamston with 118, and Grand Rapids West Catholic with 115. The Huskies, who boasted six seniors and a sophomore, received person best times from everyone in the lineup. Czymbor and Puchacz claimed second and third, respectively. Czymbor finished in a time of 15:38.05, narrowly missing the individual championship time of 15:35.85 by Williamston’s David Bills. His time eclipsed the school record of 15:40 that was set by Kevin Sule in the 1988 state finals. Puchacz, meanwhile, finished with a time of 15:49.2, which placed him third all-time in school history. Frost made the all-state team with his 20th place finish (16:28). Madaleno notched 37th (16:46), Adam Beyersdorf was 83rd (17.13), Henne 115th (17:31), while Brent Drown, a sophomore, tied his personal best with a 17.41.