Division 1 Winners Lead Speedy Packs

November 7, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

BROOKLYN — Panic set in, but only momentarily.

With all of the pressure that takes place in an MHSAA Cross Country Final, a runner could easily become unraveled by the unexpected. 

Like a fall, for instance.

Grandville sophomore Madison Troy went to the ground during a gravel section of the Michigan International Speedway course midway through the Lower Peninsula Division 1 meet Saturday. Afterward, she bore scuff marks on her right shoulder, hands and legs from the tumble. 

But she also wore the smile of a champion, having quickly composed herself. She got back in the lead pack, then pulled away from a three-girl race down the final stretch to win in 17:28.2. Close behind were Saline sophomore Jessi Larson (17:30.9) and Farmington senior Maddy Trevisan (17:31.7).

Troy said she was in third or fourth place when she fell. 

"It wasn't too bad," said Troy, Grandville's first individual champion. "I fell all the way through on my back. I quickly got up, because I didn't want to lose my spot. I was nervous at first. I thought I was going to fall behind."

Troy finished 13th in the Final last year in 18:15.8. She had to beat six runners who placed higher than her a year ago. 

"I was hoping to win by my junior or senior year," Troy said. "This year was not unexpected, because I knew if I gave it a lot, I'd be able to."

Some rivalries to watch may have formed Saturday, as three of the top four were sophomores. Traverse City Central 10th-grader Sielle Kearney was fourth in 17:41.2. 

"It's hard to push yourself when you don't have a group to run with, so that was nice," Troy said.

Troy was coming off a personal-best 17:20.5 performance to win the Regional on the fast Portage Central course. Coming within eight seconds of that time was a solid effort on the wind-swept MIS course. 

In the team race, Birmingham Seaholm won for the third time in the last four years, despite graduating two-time champion Audrey Belf (Georgetown) and 2014 runner-up Rachel DaDamio (Notre Dame).

The Maples scored 90 points to beat second-place Brighton by 46. 

Without two stars at the front, Seaholm won with a solid pack. The Maples' top four runners finished 16.7 seconds apart, with all five scorers breaking 19 minutes.

Junior Audrey Ladd was 11th (18:06.3), sophomore Rachel McCardell 16th (18:21.6), senior Mary Sanders 18th (18:21.9), senior Patty Girardot 19th (18:23.0) and sophomore Emily Rooney 53rd (18:54.6). 

Neither of the top two teams had a runner in the top 10, as fifth-ranked Brighton also came away with the runner-up trophy because of a tight pack.

Brighton's five scoring runners finished 22 seconds apart, as the Bulldogs had their best finish since placing second in 1993. Senior Kirsten McGahan was Brighton's first finisher in 28th place (18:32.1), but she was quickly followed by junior Miranda Reynolds (29th, 18:32.3), senior Jenna Sica (18:34.3), sophomore Lauren Parrell (43rd, 18:49.5) and sophomore Lexi Reynolds (51st, 18:54.1). 

Milford, which beat Brighton for the Kensington Lakes Activities Association West championship, was third with 149 points.

Click for full results.

The MHSAA Cross Country Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard.

PHOTOS: (Top) Grandville’s Madison Troy (1052) stays just ahead of Saline’s Jessi Larson (1146) and Farmington’s Maddy Trevisan (1031) during the final meters of the Division 1 Final. (Middle) Birmingham Seaholm’s Patty Girardot (1005) leads a pack that includes teammates Mary Sanders (1009) and Rachel McCardell (1007), plus Midland Dow’s Emily Wall. (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 EversJill 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.