DaDamio, Forsyth Add to Family Fame
November 6, 2020
Second Half reports
BROOKLYN — Two familiar last names battled for the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 girls cross country individual championship Friday, but in separate races.
In the end, Birmingham Seaholm senior Audrey DaDamio had the fastest time in the two heats that were run in a cross country final that was redesigned to limit the size of races in the year of COVID-19.
DaDamio, who ran the first heat with individual qualifiers and runners from third-place teams at Regionals, crossed the line at Michigan International Speedway in 17:46.07.
She had to wait for the second heat to be run before celebrating her MHSAA championship. In that race, Ann Arbor Pioneer freshman Rachel Forsyth took first place in 17:55.60.
Both girls have older sisters who had second-place finishes at the MHSAA Finals. Rachel DaDamio was runner-up in 2014, and Anne Forsyth was second in 2016.
Audrey DaDamio improved every year at MIS, finishing 62nd as a freshman, 11th as a sophomore and fifth as a junior.
“It’s really special,” DaDamio said. “I’ve been dreaming about crossing the line since, honestly, probably middle school, but really freshman year when I was here in the 60s. I was like, ‘How do girls run so fast?’ To have worked to put myself in this position where I’m contending for a title is something really special. I’ve had a lot of good role models on the team and in my family to help me believe in myself so I could get there. I’m really thankful to have them.”
DaDamio ran pretty much a solo race, leading by six seconds at the mile and 15 seconds at two miles.
Forsyth wasn’t made aware of DaDamio’s time before she raced. She had more of a battle on her hands, outkicking Traverse City Central’s Julia Flynn (17:59.18) and Plymouth’s Lauren Kiley (18:03.92) to win her heat. An exhausted Forsyth slowed up right before the finish line.
Forsyth has a strong support system which includes her older sister.
“She helped me a lot,” Forsyth said. “Honestly, me and my sisters feel some pressure, obviously, just coming from a great family. It’s not anyone’s fault. My dad said it doesn’t matter what time you run; just go out there and do your best.”
DaDamio expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have an MHSAA championship meet, but missed the opportunity to race the other top runners in the state.
“I’m really excited we have a state meet,” DaDamio said. “I know a lot of states don’t have that. I’m just grateful to be here. I was kind of thinking about that during the race to kind of give me an extra boost. It’s a little upsetting not to be able to race a lot of girls I know from other teams. Some of the girls in the other race, I was excited to work with to push each other.”
Forsyth, like her older sister, led Pioneer to a team championship. The Pioneers scored 129 points, with Traverse City Central taking second with 168.
Cookie Baugh was fourth among team runners in 18:10.78, Sarah Forsyth was 20th in 19:22.88, Charlotte Batra was 34th in 19:47.28 and Emily Cooper was 48th in 20:04.36 for Pioneer.
PHOTOS: (Top) Birmingham Seaholm’s Audrey DaDamio runs the final stretch of her championship-winning race Friday at MIS. (Middle) Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Rachel Forsyth paces the second heat in leading her team to the title. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)
Kent City's Evers Selected for NFHS National 'Coach of the Year' Honor
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 11, 2023
Kent City cross country coach Jill Evers has been named the 2021-22 National Coach of the Year for girls cross country by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Coaches Association.
Evers was selected by a committee including representatives from all eight NFHS sections – Michigan is part of Section 4 with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The following brief bio includes an excerpt from Evers’ coaching philosophy, which nominees were asked to submit after being identified as candidates for the awards.
Jill Evers joined the Kent City athletic staff as an assistant cross country coach in 1991 after previously coaching a season each at Allegan High School and Allegan Middle School. She took over Kent City’s girls and boys varsity cross country programs in 1993 and also has served as head girls track & field coach since 1993. She led Kent City’s girls cross country team to a Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final runner-up finish in 2021, the program’s second runner-up finish under her leadership, and she’s also guided Kent City’s girls program to 15 league and seven Regional titles and nine total top-eight Finals finishes. She previously was named an NFHS Section Coach of the Year for girls track & field in 2006 after leading Kent City’s girls track & field team to its first MHSAA Finals championship in that sport, and inducted into the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012. Evers also is a longtime science teacher at Kent City and advisor and mentor for a variety of school activities in addition to coaching.
“I know people say, ‘Athletics is an extension of the classroom,’ but I believe it's so much more than that. While participating in sports, young people can learn about themselves and others, challenge themselves and grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Athletics is where we learn life lessons, such as how to lose with grace, cheer for teammates and even opponents, win with humility, deal with adversity, empathize with others, respect all those involved, be grateful for healthy bodies and opportunities to compete and push ourselves beyond what was originally thought possible. Success is different for each person, but I believe cross country lends itself to individual success. Everyone can improve and learn lifelong healthy habits. Everyone can set and achieve goals. Those who aren't as fast often earn the respect of the more gifted runners because of their perseverance. It is my job as a coach to encourage, motivate, and challenge all students who want to participate, and then congratulate them for a job well done.”
Three more Michigan coaches earned honors in Section 4. Mark Posey was honored in boys golf after leading Big Rapids to a 10th-place finish in Lower Peninsula Division 3 in 2022 after four straight Finals runner-up finishes. (There was no LP boys golf season in 2020 due to COVID-19.) Lake Orion boys lacrosse coach Ronald Hebert was honored after guiding his team to the Division 1 Quarterfinals last spring after taking the Dragons to the Semifinals in 2021. Scott Werner was honored in girls track & field after leading Pewamo-Westphalia to a runner-up finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals. P-W shared the LPD3 Finals championship in 2021 and has won titles four of the last nine seasons (not counting 2020).
The NFHS has been recognizing coaches through an awards program since 1982.