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

By Steve Vedder
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)

Back from Broken Foot, Grandville's Arnsman Finishes as State's Top Senior

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

November 18, 2022

GRANDVILLE – Almost a year ago, Allie Arnsman didn’t know whether she would ever be able to run competitively again. 

West MichiganOver the last week, the Grandville senior was named Ms. Cross Country by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association while also establishing a school record. 

Arnsman suffered a broken right foot during last year’s cross country season that required surgery.

“They told me there was a small possibility of even being able to run again,” Arnsman said. “It was very scary going into the surgery thinking that there was a 90-percent chance that I wouldn’t be able to run, but I had the doctors and the physical therapists that were able to get me back.”

Arnsman sustained the injury during the third meet of her junior season when she stepped in a hole on the course.

Originally, doctors didn’t think the injury was serious.

“They kept telling us it was just a sprain, and after six weeks it would be healed,” said Arnsman, who wore a boot on her right foot.

Arnsman returned to run in the final three races of last year, and finished 17th overall in the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.

However, she still felt uncertain that her foot was completely healed.

“It was really painful when I ran and I thought something was still wrong, but I wanted to finish out my junior year and I was grateful that I did,” Arnsman said. “Right after the state meet I had an MRI, and it revealed that it was broken.”

Arnsman missed the track & field season due to her recovery after surgery. She began running again in late spring and then returned in August for her senior year.

Arnsman, bottom row center, takes her place on the medal stand next to Holland West Ottawa champion Helen Sachs, far right. “It was a tough injury for her to overcome, but she came back and we started talking about goals for the season,” Grandville girls cross country coach Rachael Steil said. “I told her that I thought she had the potential to finish in the top five (at the Finals) and we joked about her winning.

“She had so much untapped potential, and she did so well on little mileage. She doesn’t realize how talented she is, but with the hard work she put in I felt like it was going to be a really good season.”

Arnsman ran well throughout the season and continued to drop her times.

At the Finals, she exceeded her own expectations by placing runner-up in Division 1 behind West Ottawa’s Helen Sachs. 

Arnsman finished with a time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds at Michigan International Speedway.

“I was just trying to go out with the front pack, and I wanted to stick up close and then close in in the last mile,” she said. “It was tough to catch her because she went out very fast, and I wasn't used to that pace. The weather conditions weren't great, and I just couldn't get up there.”

Still, Arnsman was ecstatic about her finish.

“I was really excited,” she said. “Coming into the season I did not think I could even be top three and I was hoping for a top 15, so placing second was amazing. It was a dream.”

Arnsman got more good news after the race as she was the top senior in all divisions and was named Ms. Cross Country.

“When they pulled me aside in the room I had the biggest smile on my face,” Arnsman said. “I knew going in that it was a possibility, but of course I didn't know right away. I was so excited.”

A week later, Arnsman ran in the MITCA Meet of Champions and became the fastest girl in Grandville school history when she finished second with a time of 17 minutes flat.

The previous record of 17:20 was set by Madison Troy in 2015.

“She was drastically improving through the season, and I knew the possibilities were endless for her,” Steil said. “She has great form, and she’s strong from all the weight training she did. She put all the little pieces together, and they came together at the right time.”

Arnsman will run for Grand Valley State next year, but it’s been a journey that was somewhat unexpected after growing up as an accomplished soccer player.

She stopped playing soccer after her sophomore year to focus on running.

“I grew up in soccer, so it was scary going into a new sport and giving up something that I loved,” Arnsman said. “It was a different sport and a whole new environment that I wasn’t used to, but I’m grateful that I was able to have the success I did. ... I never thought about running in college. I thought I would be playing college soccer.”

Arnsman, who ended her cross country career as a three-time Finals qualifier, will run indoor track & field this winter before running outdoor in the spring with her team.

Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at dream100@comcast.net with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Grandville’s Allie Arnsman runs toward the finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Cross Country Final on Nov. 5. (Middle) Arnsman, bottom row center, takes her place on the medal stand next to Holland West Ottawa champion Helen Sachs, far right. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)