By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half
BROOKLYN — Gina Patterson of Macomb Lutheran North was one of the favorites to win the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 cross country championship, based on her performance last season.
She may have been the only person who didn’t view herself as one of the runners to beat.
Perhaps it was the power of tempered expectations that relieved her of any pressure. Whatever it was, Patterson dominated a field that featured some of last year’s top finishers to win going away with a time of 17:43.4 Saturday at Michigan International Speedway.
Patterson was sixth at the MHSAA Final last season, finishing behind three runners who were in Saturday’s race.
St. Louis senior Raquel Serna was the runner-up for the second straight year, finishing in 17:59.8. Shepherd junior Kaylie Rhynard, who was fifth last year, took seventh in 18:25.9. Ida sophomore Ashley Sorge, fourth last year, was eighth in 18:33.6.
“I just came out here and looked forward to having a good experience,” Patterson said. “It was a great surprise.”
In shattering her personal best, Patterson reached the mile in just under 5:30. She took the lead for good after the two-mile mark.
“It felt great,” she said. “I didn’t know how fast we were going. When we crossed the line, I wasn’t expecting it to be that quick of a first mile. I just pushed it to finish it and seal it.”
As the race unfolded, she wasn’t sure if the fast early pace would catch up with her.
“I kept looking back and thinking if I was going too fast and what was going to happen,” said Patterson, who was relieved to see the gap between her and Serna growing as she entered the stadium for the final half mile.
The team race was considerably closer, with Jackson Lumen Christi edging Grandville Calvin Christian by a 167-171 margin. Caro was third with 201 points.
It was the Titans’ ninth MHSAA team championship and first since 2007.
Sophomore Caitlin Clark was 18th among team runners in 19:09.1, followed closely by sophomore Aubrey Penn in 19th place in 19:10.8 to lead Lumen Christi. Rounding out the scoring were freshman Jensen McEldowney (35th, 19:46.4), senior Leanne Leuthard (40th, 19:54.7) and senior Anna Berkemeier (55th, 20:16.5).
PHOTO: St. Louis' Raquel Serna (1711) and Macomb Lutheran North's Gina Patterson keep pace at the front of the Division 3 Final. Patterson broke away for the win. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com.)
Rachel Forsyth ♦ Ann Arbor Pioneer
Senior ♦ Cross Country
The latest in a long line of Pioneer distance stars, Forsyth began her final high school cross country season with a nearly 26-second victory in the big-school race at the Benzie Central Pete Moss Invitational on Saturday. She ran a personal-record 17:09.24, which says a ton considering her past work; Forsyth was the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final champion in 2021 as a sophomore and the 2020 runner-up in her first trip to Michigan International Speedway. What's more, she was followed in this Benzie race by reigning Division 3 champion Jessica Jazwinski of Hart in second and last year's Division 4 champion Aiden Harrand of Buckley in third as Pioneer finished second as a team against an elite field.
An injury delayed the start of Forsyth's junior season last fall until the end of September, and she ran only 62nd at the LPD1 Final five weeks later. But she was clearly back to unstoppable during track season, setting personal records in the 3,200, 1,600, 800 and 400 while going undefeated in individual events for the spring and winning LPD1 Finals championships in the 800, 1,600 and as part of the 3,200 relay. She and her siblings have enjoyed an incredible run of success over the last decade; older sister Anne Forsyth was a four-time top-15 cross country finisher at LPD1 Finals and runner-up as a junior in 2016, and sister Sarah Forsyth twice finished among the top 10 individually and as a senior with Rachel in 2021 helped Pioneer to the team title.
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(PHOTOS by Run Michigan.)