Seaholm Star Tunes Out Hype, Fulfills It
November 2, 2013
By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half
BROOKLYN — Audrey Belf tuned out all of the noise.
The Birmingham Seaholm junior didn't want to get caught up in all of the chatter surrounding her quest to win the MHSAA Division 1 cross country championship. She didn't want to read the comparisons between her and former Rochester runner Megan Goethals, who holds the MHSAA finals record and is now an All-American at the University of Washington.
Belf wanted to relax her mind all week, then do what she does best — race hard.
"I never had that much pressure in my life," Belf said. "I kind of stopped using the Internet for a week. I didn't want to see anything or have any reason to psyche myself out. I wanted to go into the race with a clear head."
The nationally ranked Belf fulfilled expectations on Saturday by winning the Division 1 championship in a time of 17:31.1. Rockford senior Lauren Brasure stayed close enough to keep the issue in doubt, finishing second in 17:40.8.
"She's a great runner and definitely pushes me," Belf said. "I knew it would be a close race. We both ran great."
Belf admitted that she had her sights on the MHSAA finals record of 16:54.8 set by Goethals in 2009. Achieving that time became more difficult when rains soaked the MIS course right up until race morning, creating a sloppy mess in some spots.
"It was a little muddy," Belf said. "Coming into the stadium, I was on pace for my goal time. When I got into the stadium, it slowed me up a little bit. You can't do anything about it. It's OK. I'm happy about it."
Belf made a huge jump from 33rd place last year in 18:32.8 to MHSAA champion.
"I was a little bit sick and had a bad day (in 2012)," Belf said. "This summer and last spring, I worked on raising my confidence going into races. It really helped me this year."
Brasure lost only three races all season — all to Belf.
The only downer for Belf was that her Seaholm team didn't repeat as champion. Northville won its first MHSAA finals championship by scoring 107 points. Saline was second with 139, Hudsonville third with 164 and Seaholm fourth with 165. Rockford was fifth with 169 points, cracking the top 10 for the 20th straight year.
Northville had a strong front pack, with its top four runners finishing 10.8 seconds apart in the top 21 among team finishers. Senior Rachel Coleman was 10th in the team race in 18:23.3, sophomore Lexa Barrott was 13th in 18:27.0, senior Taleen Shahrigian was 14th in 18:30.2, freshman Cayla Eckenroth was 21st in 18:34.1 and senior Nicole Mosteller was 49th in 19:10.2.
PHOTO: Birmingham Seaholm’s Audrey Belf takes the final strides toward her first MHSAA cross country championship. (Click to see more from RunMichigan.com).
Kent City's Evers Selected for NFHS National 'Coach of the Year' Honor
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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 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.