Performance: Hart's Adelyn Ackley

November 11, 2016

Adelyn Ackley
Hart sophomore – Cross Country

After finishing runner-up at the 2015 Lower Peninsula Division 3 Final to Traverse City St. Francis’ Holly Bullough as a freshman, Ackley was driven for more Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. Not only did she emerge as champion this time, but she crossed the finish line in 17 minutes, 40.6 seconds to break the LPD3 meet record Bullough set last year, earning the Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Ackley is the latest standout from a running family. Hart’s only other cross country Finals champion was her aunt Cathy Ackley in the Class C team race in 1985. Adelyn's father Calvin Ackley was an All-American at Cornerstone University in 1992 and 1993, and another aunt Mindy Whitney is Hart's girls and boys track & field coach. Adelyn’s older sister Alayna is a junior at Hart and finished seventh Saturday with a time of 19:12.4. Together they led the Pirates to a seventh-place team finish.

Both Ackley and runner-up Olivia Theis from Lansing Catholic broke Bullough’s record time, Theis leading the race until Ackley got past her on the final turn at MIS heading into the home stretch (although Ackley mistook how close they were to the finish; see more on that below). The Finals championship actually was Ackley’s second – she also won the LPD3 track title in the 3,200 in the spring. She holds the Hart school records for cross country 5K (17:16) and track 3,200 (10:49) and 1,600 (4:56), and also is a strong student and avid hunter with interest in pursuing a career that will allow her to work in the outdoors.

Coach Terry Tatro said: “Having coached at Hart for 18 years, I’ve had my fair share of successful runners over the years. I can say with all honesty that Adelyn is in a class by herself. It was quite evident early on that Adelyn had the skill and heart to become a quality competitor. She has followed in her older sister’s footsteps, as Alayna provided the competitive spirit that has driven the sisters to running success. The sibling rivalry has provided the springboard to send them to the next level of competition. Adelyn was undefeated in conference, Regional champion, and of course state champion this year. ... One thing I admire most about Adelyn is her modesty. If you did not know who she was, you wouldn’t be able to pick her out of my girls team. She’s humble, quiet, and is ‘just one of the girls.’ When the gun goes off, it’s a different story. She’s tenacious, strong, has an incredible stride; combined with her competitive spirit, she’s the one to beat.”

Performance Point: “I think it's really worth all the time I put in,” Ackley said of her latest championship, “and I realized how much fun it was just being able to hang out with the team and running with my family.”

Record breaker: “That really benefited me for (Theis) to be right next to me. … I was going to try to pass her at the 2-mile mark, but I couldn’t push myself to do it. When I heard my dad scream, I was about to give up. I was like, maybe I’ll just take second. But I heard my dad scream really loud (‘Addy, come on, you’ve gotta go now.’), and it kinda hit me back into race mode. I was like, I can still win this. I realized it and gave it all I’ve got and sprinted past her because I thought the finish line was right there. Then I realized I have a long way to go.”

Family tradition: “Probably all of my love for running came from (my dad). We used to run together when I was in seventh grade, and all of my cousins love to run and so does my dad and mom. I guess we just kinda realized God gave us a talent for running, and I want to use that talent to the best of my ability. In seventh grade I didn’t really like it that much. But when I realized I had some good talent, I loved it so I wanted to train more and see what I could do.”

All-terrain cross-train: “Sometimes when we take a week off (after cross country season), I go coyote hunting, and that’s been a really big benefit for me because you have to chase coyotes through the snow. I also like to duck hunt too; it’s hard to go through the swamps.”

What’s next: “I’m going to try to train more. I have probably a few goals I want to break in (running) time. In cross country, I want to break 17 minutes. I think I’ll try to do that next year or my senior year.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Hart's Adelyn Ackley (1577) leads the pack early on the way to winning the Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. (Middle) Ackley speeds through another stretch on the course (Click to see more from

Kent City's Evers Selected for NFHS National 'Coach of the Year' Honor

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.