Arianne Olson ♦ Junior
Holland West Ottawa ♦ Cross Country
Olson enters Saturday’s Lower Peninsula Division 1 Cross Country Final coming off her second Regional championship in three seasons, after running a 17:12.32 at Portage Central to best the field by 1 minute, 26 seconds, and help Holland West Ottawa to a dominating team championship with 39 points. She is undefeated this fall and will return to Michigan International Speedway having finished eighth in LPD1 last season and second in 2019 as a freshman.
Her 16:45 at the Oct. 2 Otsego Invitational not only was a personal record but is the fastest time in the state this season by 8.4 seconds. Her top five times this season all would put her among the top 10 all-time finishers in LP Finals history since the distance went to 5K in 1980. That 16:45 also is more than a minute faster than her 2020 personal-record run and 41 seconds faster than her fastest as a freshman. Among her victories this fall, she finished first at two of the most prestigious races in the state – the Spartan Invitational Elite race at Michigan State University on Sept. 17 and the Portage Invitational on Oct. 9.
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Oct. 28: Jack Guggemos, Okemos soccer - Report
Oct. 21: Sachiv Kumar, Northville tennis - Report
Oct. 14: Kate Brody, Grand Blanc golf - Report
Oct. 7: Lilly Nelson, Negaunee tennis - Report
Sept. 30: Stella Chapman, Ann Arbor Pioneer swimming - Report
Sept. 23: Riley Hough, Hartland cross country - Report
Sept. 16: Josie Bloom, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Report
PHOTOS courtesy of Laura Veldhof Photography.
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.
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.
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/RunMichigan.com.)