Lansing Catholic Trio Bringing Pacesetting, Pack-Leading Prowess Back to Finals

By Steve Vedder
Special for

November 3, 2022

When it comes to success, Hannah Pricco sees no problem spreading the wealth.

Mid-MichiganWhile some cross country runners are guarded over their personal times and finishes, Pricco is one of three Lansing Catholic runners who have had no problem taking turns virtually dominating the Capital Area Activities Conference White over the last two seasons.

Not only are the three part of a Cougars program which hasn't lost a conference jamboree in 11 years, Pricco along with CC Jones and Tessa Roe have grabbed the top three spots in each conference jamboree over the last two seasons. They also took the top three places at their Regional last weekend.

When it comes to the specific order of those finishes, Pricco said there is complete agreement among the runners: it doesn't matter who wins.

"We all want to win; that's normal," said Pricco, a senior all-stater in both cross country and track. "But I've run with these other girls in practice and in meets, and if I beat them, okay. If I don't, that's okay, too.

"We're definitely all competitive in our own way. We push each other and want to get better. When you're in a race, it's better to look over and see someone you know rather than seeing someone from another team. There's nothing wrong with any of us winning."

The three have posted personal bests within 25 seconds of each other. Jones, a senior, tops the trio with an 18:13, Pricco an 18:14 and Roe, a junior, has gone 18:38. Those times are more than a minute better than the usual fourth-place finisher in a conference jamboree.

Pricco, Jones and Roe help set the pace during another race.Cougars coach Tim Simpson said whatever their individual finishes, the ultimate goal of the runners is the success of the team. Personal recognition is a far second.

"With them it's like, 'Well, I finished first this time and third the next. That's fine,'" he said. "Whether it's a league meet or a Regional or one of the bigger meets we go to, they just race. They work together. They're pretty similar, so it's just how they feel on that day."

The girls not only run cross country and track together, they spend time together away from athletics. They'll typically be found together at everything from bonfires to dining out to trips to a local park. Roe and Pricco also play on the basketball team.

The trio has been together since Jones transferred as a sophomore and Roe arrived at the school as a freshman. Pricco has been at the school all four years.

Jones said there is absolutely no jealousy among the runners as to who wins a meet. While the runners typically stay together during a race, there is often a scramble at the end to see who grabs first.

"The last hundred meters we sprint to see who wins – it doesn't matter if it's in practice or in a meet," Jones said. "We want to win, but we're all friends. We're not going to make anyone tense. We don't really think (about places). It's not like we need to beat each other."

Roe, a three-year varsity basketball player, said the benefit of having three runners within 25 seconds of each other is that each makes the next runner better. It's true none are obsessed with who finishes first, but like any athlete, they are competitive.

"All of us are definitely competitive. We look at that as a way to push each other," Roe said. "Obviously, we try to beat other runners; that goes hand-in-hand with running. I think it gives us all confidence that we have each other. It's that way in practice and in meets. We know we can pick up each other."

The runners do admit that their philosophy will be altered at Saturday's Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final at Michigan International Speedway. Headed by Pricco's seventh place a year ago, all three finished among the meet's top 20. Simpson predicts the meet's winner will likely clock in under 18 minutes, meaning his runners will have to post a career day to win. But he does call all three finishing among the top 10 "realistic."

"They're all capable of running under 18 minutes on any given day. They're shooting for that," he said. "They'll run their races and be very competitive with the others and with themselves."

Whether it’s in the Final or during the conference season, Pricco said the girls are only pulling for each other.

"There's nothing wrong with any of us winning," she concluded.

PHOTOS (Top) From left, Lansing Catholic’s CC Jones (749), Tessa Roe (745) and Hannah Pricco (755) lead the pack during a race. (Middle) Pricco, Jones and Roe help set the pace during another race. (Photos courtesy of the Lansing Catholic girls cross country program.)

Grand Rapids Speedsters Dominate Division 2 Girls Cross Country Final

November 4, 2023

BROOKLYN — Emily Tomes of Grand Rapids Catholic Central might be the first MHSAA cross country champion to go all season without winning a meet until it mattered the most.

There are two good reasons for that.

First, she runs in the Grand Rapids area, which is a hotbed for high school cross country. Her biggest league rival, Selma Anderson of Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, was the runner-up in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final on Saturday.

Second, she was adjusting all season to a significant change in her training volume.

Natalie VanOtteren leads Grand Rapids Christian's team title run with a fifth-place finish.As a result, she had five second-place finishes in nine races and didn’t run faster than 18:25.5 until her conference and Regional meets.

“I ramped up my miles, so my legs felt tired for a lot of my races,” Tomes said. “So, that’s why I recently started running sub-18. My legs started to get used to the mileage. I was just trying to wait until this meet. This is when I was going to try to run my best.”

Tomes was the Division 2 champion, running a time of 17:31.4 on a Michigan International Speedway course that yielded fast times all day.

She won a kick down the stretch against St. Joseph senior Gail Vaikutis, who took second in 17:33.6.

“I feel like I do rely on my kick quite a bit, but I just knew it could help me pass those girls and it gives me a lot of confidence moving forward, ” Tomes said. “I have a couple postseason meets, so I’m really looking forward to those.”

It was anyone’s race when a pack of five runners reached the two-mile mark within one second of one another. It was a two-runner race coming down the straightaway, with Tomes passing Vaikutis in the final tenth of a mile.

“I don’t normally run in packs,” Tomes said. “This season kind of started off slower for me, so I wasn’t used to racing with these girls. I know they know how to run really fast. If I could just let them carry me along, it would help me out.”

Grand Rapids Christian won the team championship with a score of 112 points. Last season’s champion Otsego was second with 131.

The Eagles won their seventh MHSAA championship and first since 2014.

Senior Natalie VanOtteren, who defeated Tomes by 17 seconds at Regionals, led Grand Rapids Christian by placing fifth in 17:58.2. Sophomore Lilah Poel was 20th, sophomore Ellie Scholma 30th, senior Payton Holtz 31st and senior Naomi Nelson 65th for the Eagles.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Emily Tomes, left, breaks away from St. Joseph's Gail Vaikutis during the closing stretch of the Division 2 Final. (Middle) Natalie VanOtteren leads Grand Rapids Christian's team title run with a fifth-place finish. (Photos by Dave McCauley/