Farrell, Milford Finish Incredible Runs

November 5, 2016

Second Half reports

BROOKLYN – When everyone packed up and left Michigan International Speedway last year, cross country gurus inclined to predict the 2016 MHSAA Division 1 girls cross country race had no shortage of candidates for the individual championship.

Of the top 17 finishers, 13 were non-seniors, headlined by two sophomores at the top of the podium.

It’s safe to say nobody dug deep enough into the results to pull out Maggie Farrell’s name as a leading contender.

Farrell had just completed her second straight middle-of-the-pack showing, taking 97th in 19:29.9 after placing 92nd in 19:28.8 as a sophomore. She certainly had consistency going for her.

But she wanted to accomplish so much more, so she put in the hard work to make her dreams come true.

“I changed my schedule a little bit and worked with a trainer,” Farrell said. “My goal this year was top 15; I thought that would be tough.”

Her goals were revised as she got into the season and won almost everything in sight. She claimed the ultimate prize Saturday by winning the Division 1 title with a time of 17:25.6.

Ann Arbor Pioneer junior Anne Forsyth was second in 17:35.0. Farrell made a move at the two-mile mark, but could never feel comfortable until she experienced the relief of hitting the finish line.

“I’ve just got to go,” were Farrell’s thoughts during the final stretch. “I know the girl behind me wants it as much as I do.”

Farrell won 13 of her 14 races this season. The only time she lost was when she took third place at the Portage Invitational on Oct. 8. Forsyth was first in that race, followed by Traverse City Central junior Sielle Kearney. Kearney was seventh in 18:16.5 on Saturday.

“In that race, I ran the same way,” Forsyth said. “I just run from the front. I tried to pull ahead, and I felt good. Today, she kind of did the same thing to me.

“I’m happy. I haven’t been running as well in the big meets in the past, so I’m happy I ran well today.”

In the team race, Milford pulled off an upset by winning its first MHSAA girls cross country championship. The Mavericks, ranked 10th in the state, scored 150 points to beat Pioneer by 22.

Northville finished in the top eight for the sixth straight year, placing third with 178 points. Top-ranked Birmingham Seaholm, winner of three of the last four MHSAA titles, was fourth with 188.

Senior Mallory Barrett led Milford by placing ninth overall and sixth among team runners in 18:16.5. Sophomore Victoria Heiligenthal was 14th overall and 10th in the team race in 18:26.6.

Also scoring for Milford were junior Nicole Grindling (33rd, 19:21.3), sophomore Natalie Black (43rd, 19:32.1) and junior Regan Lobodzinski (58th, 19:47.5).

Milford’s previous best finishes were second-place showings in 1984 and 2000. The Mavericks were third last year.

Click for full results.

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

PHOTOS: (Top) Battle Creek Lakeview’s Maggie Farrell (right) stays just a few paces ahead of Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Anne Forsyth. (Middle) Milford’s Natalie Black (1049) pushes toward the finish with Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern’s Emily Fredette (1200). (Click to see 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.