MARQUETTE — Lindsey Rudden has enjoyed a stellar high school track career, to say the least.
The Marquette High School senior is the current Upper Peninsula Division 1 Finals record holder in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs and was part of U.P. record-setting 1,600 and 3,200 relays this spring at Kingsford.
She could graduate next spring as the top high school female distance runner in Upper Peninsula history. But one accomplishment that has eluded her, however, is a U.P. cross country title – something she’ll begin next week to pursue one last time.
At the end of her freshman year, Rudden was well ahead of the MHSAA Finals field with a half-mile remaining at Munising when she became ill and passed out. In Marquette as a sophomore, she was runner-up to Kameron Burmeister of Menominee. Then, she and now-junior Amber Huebner missed a flag in last year’s Finals and had to retrace their steps, adding distance to their race. Huebner ended up runner-up to Gladstone’s Leigha Woelffer that day, and Rudden finished well behind the leaders.
“I’ve learned so much from the losses,” Rudden said. “I still wouldn’t change it. I know how to react when other people are upset. I was real nervous before the Finals as a sophomore because of what happened in my freshman year. I wasn’t quite as nervous about it last year, and I’m not worried about it this year. I’m just going to try to run it like any other race and do my best. Either way life goes on. I have a great support system. My coaches and teammates have been great.”
Rudden, as she did the past three years, will lead the Redettes into this cross country season when they open Aug. 28 by hosting the Marquette Relays.
“I feel better going into this season than I did going into any other season,” said Rudden, who has made a verbal commitment to continue her track and cross country careers at Michigan State University. “I’m in better shape this year and starting to enjoy cross country. This is kind of special. I’m just going with the flow and trying to enjoy my last year of high school. I feel I’m ready for the next step.”
Rudden indeed has experienced plenty of success in cross country, earning a pair of Great Northern Conference titles in three seasons.
Her efforts certainly haven’t gone unnoticed, as some of the Marquette boys runners will verify.
“Lindsey has great dedication to her sport,” said senior Lance Rambo, last season’s U.P. Division 1 cross country runner-up and winner of the 3,200 and 1,600 at the spring Finals. “She just works so hard. … (And) she’s very humble. She’ll always congratulate other runners after the races and tries to encourage them. She always has a smile after a race.”
Redmen senior Troy Sergey, who finished 13th at last fall’s U.P. Division 1 Final and has known Rudden since fourth grade, also is impressed by Rudden’s accomplishments.
“She’s able to go into a gear nobody else has,” he said. “After two miles, she can pick up the pace. She never misses a workout. Lindsey understands what she needs to do. She talks to me and Lance before every race, and we discuss her game plan.”
Rudden trains an average of 30 miles a week.
“That gives me a pretty good base,” she said. “I’ve also been doing some weight training, and I’m more confident this year. I don’t feel as much pressure now that I’m committed to Michigan State. I’ve already met some of my (future) teammates. I’m just so excited.”
Rudden set Division 1 Finals records in the 800 at two minutes, 13.94 seconds this spring, the 1,600 (4:55.28) a year ago and 3,200 (11:26.38) in 2013. Her 800 and 1,600 times are records for all U.P. Finals.
“I’ve always loved track,” she said. “I think that’s why I’ve had a lot of success with it.”
In late May, Rudden combined forces with current senior Holly Blowers and Amber Huebner and recent graduate Shayla Huebner in U.P. Finals record-setting efforts in the 1,600 (4:00.15) and 3,200 relays (9:30.25).
“I’ve been playing sports with Lindsey since I was in fourth grade,” Amber Huebner said. “She always works her hardest and pushes other people to work harder. Lindsey is a great friend, leader and teammate. I can’t imagine what next season is going to be like without her.”
Rudden will become part of a program which captured the NCAA Division I cross country title last fall and was crowned Big 10 track and field champion this spring.
What has she meant to Marquette’s track and field and cross country programs?
“Lindsey is one of the all-time better mid and long distance runners at Marquette High School,” Redettes coach Dale Phillips said. “Not many girls can meet that kind of success. She has already surpassed the times by the Anderson twins (Emily and Katie in the late 1990s) in the 800 and 1,600 and even the 400.
"I think Lindsey has really matured. She has developed into a good leader, and that’s going to help her. I think that will make her a better runner.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Lindsey Rudden (77) leads the pack during last season's MHSAA Upper Peninsula Division 1 Cross Country Final. (Middle) Rudden cruises down the stretch during one of her races at this spring's U.P. Track and Field Finals.
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.)