Speedy 2nd Helps Seaholm Retake 1st

November 1, 2014

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

BROOKLYN — Rachel DaDamio of Birmingham Seaholm may be the only runner to ever finish second in an MHSAA championship cross country meet without ever having won a race in her career.

Not one race. Not even a dual meet or low-key invitational. 

First place is pretty much spoken for when Audrey Belf toes the start line.

Since DaDamio has been Belf's teammate for four years, winning hasn't been a viable option. 

But while Belf beat every opponent in the state this year, DaDamio didn't lose to anybody else. Her eighth second-place finish in as many meets helped Seaholm win the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship with 88 points. Traverse City Central was second with 115, followed by defending-champion Northville with 135.

Belf repeated as the individual champion with a time of 17:19.0. DaDamio held off freshman Karenna Duffey of Macomb L'Anse Creuse North to grab second in 17:29.4. Duffey was third in 17:33.1. Those were the three fastest times of the day in any division. 

DaDamio doesn't mind her lack of individual first-place medals, because she has two team championship medals from the MHSAA Finals.

"It's an honor," she said. "It doesn't make a difference to me. I just want to constantly improve for myself, then whatever place I get I know I worked hard." 

After crossing the finish line, Belf's attention immediately turned to the race behind her. She had to be moved away from the finish line while she watched DaDamio duel with Duffey.

"It was awesome," Belf said. "In every single meet this year we've been 1-2. It's been so cool to have my teammate behind me like that. It's like a little dynamic duo. I love it." 

Belf had already opened up a gap when the runners hit the end of the long straightaway in the first 700 yards of the race.

"I wanted to stay behind a little bit at the start, but people were not going out as fast as I'd hoped, so I kind of just took it there," Belf said. "In the second mile, I got caught up in the wind. I felt I should have pushed through more and finished strong, but I can't complain." 

Seaholm regained the title it lost last year when it finished fourth. DaDamio didn't run in that meet because of an injury, but the Maples did lose No. 2 runner Marissa Dobry, who moved to Oregon.

Belf, DaDamio and No. 3 runner Julia Demko were on the 2012 championship team. Demko took 20th on Saturday with a time of 18:21.5. 

Completing Seaholm's scoring were Audrey Ladd (40th, 18:52.0) and Mary Sanders (54th, 19:00.5).

"To win two state championships in a day is like a magical dream come true," Belf said. 

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: Birmingham Seaholm’s Rachel DaDamio keeps pace ahead of Karenna Duffey of Macomb L'Anse Creuse North to finish individual runner-up and help the Maples regain the MHSAA LP Division 1 team title. (Below) Seaholm’s Audrey Belf claimed her second straight individual 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 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.