Ann Arbor Pioneer junior – Cross Country
Forsyth has been one of the state’s fastest distance runners since starting her high school cross country career three seasons ago. But she’s made a jump to MHSAA championship contender this fall, showing it again by running a career record 17:21 to finish ahead of a loaded field at the Oct. 8 Portage Invitational and earn Michigan National Guard “Performance of the Week” for Oct. 3-9.
The junior standout won the Portage Division 1 race by six seconds as her team – ranked No. 3 in Lower Peninsula Division 1 – edged No. 2 Northville by three points to claim the team title as well. Forsyth’s time tied for fastest of the day with that of Lansing Catholic’s Olivia Theis, who won the Division 3 race. That 17:21 also set Pioneer’s 5K record, and Forsyth has seven others in either indoor or outdoor track & field, including the outdoor 3,200 record of 10:30.97 and as part of outdoor 3,200 (8:53.86), 4-mile (20:39.13) and distance medley (12:37.57) relays.
Forsyth finished seventh at the MHSAA LP Division 1 Cross Country Final as a freshman and 13th last season, and her 17:21 was more than five seconds faster than her best time of 2015. She also finished seventh in the 3,200 at the MHSAA Track & Field Division 1 Final this spring and ran the first leg of the Finals-champion 3,200 relay. Her school records are especially impressive considering the high regard for Pioneer’s program, which won three cross country and 16 girls track & field MHSAA titles under late coach Bryan Westfield, who died during the summer of 2015 after a fight with cancer. Forsyth is now coached by Nancy Boudreau, who took over last fall after serving as Westfield’s assistant for five years and also coached for a decade in Bowling Green’s running programs.
Coach Nancy Boudreau said: “Anne is just now starting to believe in herself. She is super motivated and is always striving to do her best. In the last year she has taken all aspects of training more seriously, especially the weight training and core training. She is also a tremendous team leader and keeps things very light in practice and at meets. She is well known for her inspirational pep talks before races, which get the girls psyched for the races.”
Performance Point: “We all got out really hard in the beginning, and I was kinda worried I wasn’t going to be able to hang with them,” Forsyth said of the Portage win. “Partway through I felt really good, and I started trying to push up the hills – trying to push the whole way. I was really surprised; throughout the season I’ve been staying with (the top runners) for about a mile, and they’ve been pulling away. It boosted my confidence that I stuck with them longer.”
This year’s jump: “Partly it’s an attitude change, just knowing that I can do it. When it hurts in the middle (of a race), if you don’t think you can do it, you just slow down and not really care. … We’ve (also) been doing slightly different training, going on slightly longer runs. Our workouts are more intense, and we’ve been doing a little weight training. It just makes me feel more consistent, like I don’t have as many really bad days.”
Full team ahead: “We’ve done really well. We’re trying to get everybody to get more consistent, all of us running well the same day. A lot of us know we can run faster, and it’s motivating to know we haven’t hit our peak yet.”
Pep talker: “It’s really random. I just pick something – it’s kinda dumb – but it gets everybody hyped up and excited. Just acting kinda crazy can shake out some of the nerves. I was always like that. I try to keep everybody loose (because) we tend to get nervous.”
Westfield wisdom: “He really taught us how to care about it. If we have a bad day, that it’s not the end of the world. He really showed … athletics can help you in every part of your life. He just showed a lot of compassion.”
- 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:
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) Ann Arbor Pioneer's Anne Forsyth runs a cross country race last fall. (Middle) Forsyth placed individually and as part of a relay at this spring's Track & Field Finals. (Photos courtesy of Ann Arbor Pioneer Cross Country/Peter Draugalis.)
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 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.