Eagles Senior Shows She's the Bos

September 27, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

At first, Julia Bos competed against herself.

She started in sixth grade, running the mile in gym class, and she finished in seven minutes. Bos wanted to go faster, so she started running a half-mile, on her own, every day.

Then the competition became her sister, Anna, two years older, who was having success in eighth grade cross country. Julia wanted to win too. So the sisters started running together, Julia struggling to keep Anna within sight -- until one day when Julia was a freshman, decided their pace was too slow, and took off on her own.

Julia's still running away from the pack. Bos finished 18th at the Division 2 Cross Country Final as a freshman, in 19:15. She cut her time to 17:48 a year later, finishing fourth. Last fall, she beat out two previous MHSAA champions to claim her first title in 17:24.

Now what? She's back to competing against herself, but now as arguably the top runner in the state this fall.

"My freshman year, I never dreamed I’d be into the 17s,” Bos said. “Every season I have the thought that this is it. I can't get faster.

"Then I prove myself wrong."

She gets a Second Half High 5 this week after proving herself as perhaps the runner to catch statewide on Sept. 14, when she finished first in the elite race at the Spartan Invitational at Michigan State. She crossed the line in 17:20 – 15 seconds ahead of a field that included West Bloomfield’s Erin Finn, the reigning MHSAA Division 1 champion and a national meet record setter during the offseason, and one of the nation’s top middle distance track runners in Grosse Pointe South’s Hannah Meier.

Last season's MHSAA Final win was huge, but Grand Rapids Christian coach Doug Jager said he’d never seen Bos as happy as when she stood on the medal stand at MSU.

Bos said it took a mix of factors for her to finish first that day. She said Finn remains ahead of her, and respects her greatly because of how she’s handled stardom and the expectation that she’ll always win.

But Bos is in that class now too. She hasn’t finished lower than first in a race since the 2011 Spartan Invite, when she took third behind Finn and Meier.

She just gets faster

"She's very gifted as a runner. She also works harder than anyone I've ever had," said Jager, who coached the Eagles to Division 2 team championships in 2005, 2006 and 2010. "In fact, I usually have to tell her to do less."

Late last season, that meant training only four days a week. This fall it has been five, and Bos spends many of those running with the Eagles boys team, especially on longer runs. She and Anna don't really run together anymore, although Anna did finish for Rockford's third-place team at the 2010 Division 1 Final.

Julia has another theory for the jump she took between sophomore and junior year. She grew three inches, to 5-foot-5, and longer legs turned into faster ones.

Indeed, Jager said, Bos has improved her leg speed. But also her strategy.

At the Spartan Invite her freshman year, Bos was about 80th after a mile, and despite working hard to get back among the front packs, finished 10th.

At last season’s Final at Michigan International Speedway, Bos at first planned to go out behind the other favorites, drafting off them before coming on late. But figuring they expect that strategy, she charged out hard – and just kept going.

Jager said Bos’ best trait might be that she does keep going. Often, her third mile is faster than her first, which “grinds people down.” Bos isn’t so sure her third mile is her fastest. But it’s at least faster than the final third of her opponents.

Flying like an eagle 

At MSU this month, Jager and Bos accidentally got separated from the rest of the Eagles before the start of the elite race. That did allow for some final one-on-one coaching, or, rather, convincing.

“Everyone was looking at Finn and Hannah Meier, and she goes, ‘What do you think? Can I get second?’” Jager said. “I said, 'Are you conceding first already?'

“She said, ‘No, but Erin is so good.’ I said, 'Look, just put yourself in position. Don’t put expectations on yourself. Just put yourself in position where you never know. … Just keep your head up and watch.”

"I'm going into it thinking to myself, there's only a 10 percent chance I can win this," Bos recalled.

Teams generally run similar schedules every season, and the Spartan was only event the Eagles run that Bos hadn’t won during her career.

Cross that off the list. Bring on the higher expectations.

"I had a really good day. I did all the right things with eating and drinking and resting, and I was ready to peak for that day," Bos said.

"(God's) the one who gave me the talent. ... I've just gotta take each race one at a time, with His help, and deal with all the pressure."

PHOTO: Grand Rapids Christian's Julia Bos broke away from the pack during last season's Division 2 Final at Michigan International Speedway. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.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.