Squires Leads Petoskey to 1st Finals Win

November 6, 2020

Second Half reports

BROOKLYN – Petoskey was outmatched last year and knew it.

“East Grand Rapids had an amazing year,” Petoskey senior Emma Squires said. “Last year, even at our best, we would have never beaten them.”

It was a different story this year. The Northmen returned all five of their scoring runners from a team that took second to East Grand Rapids by 56 points last year in the MHSAA Division 2 cross country championship race. East Grand Rapids was ranked No. 1, just ahead of Petoskey, coming into Friday’s MHSAA Finals at Michigan International Speedway, but had graduated individual champion Anna Petr.

The loss of Petr was just the opening Petoskey needed to break through and win its first MHSAA championship by a 68-79 margin over the Pioneers.

This year, it was Petoskey that had the individual champion. Squires ran the fastest time in the two Division 2 heats Friday in an MHSAA Final that was altered to reduce the size of fields.

Squires ran a time of 17 minutes, 54.56 seconds to finish ahead of Mason freshman Meghan Ford, who ran 18:18.08.

“I knew a freshman was my biggest competition,” Squires said. “Just having more experience, I knew I had to get out fast, kind of scare them a little bit. That’s what I did. I went out really strong. I was a little scared around the middle. I was so tired already.”

It was the fourth MHSAA Final for Squires, who was 36th in 19:19.9 as a freshman, seventh in 18:45.3 as a sophomore and fifth in 18:27.1 as a junior.

“It’s been a progression, but I’ve always died in the last mile,” Squires said. “I was really trying hard not to this year.”

Bringing the title home for Petoskey were Cambrie Smith in ninth place (19:01.69), Noel Vanderwall in 17th (19:14.65), Sarah Liederbach in 28th (19:39.73) and Caroline Farley in 36th (19:54.99).

“Our second girl, she moved here from Gaylord two years ago,” Squires said. “She’s kind of been my training partner. It’s been really exciting and helpful to have someone to pace with. We’ve all been working together. Our whole team has been trying to get to that state championship. We did this year.”

Petoskey, a 22-time Finals qualifier, previously placed second in 2002 and 2019.

Click for full results.  

PHOTOS: (Top) Petoskey’s Emma Squires sprints toward the finish at Friday’s Lower Peninsula Division 2 Final. (Middle) Caroline Farley, left, and Otsego’s Chelsea Glessner (320) push through the final stretch. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)

Back from Broken Foot, Grandville's Arnsman Finishes as State's Top Senior

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

November 18, 2022

GRANDVILLE – Almost a year ago, Allie Arnsman didn’t know whether she would ever be able to run competitively again. 

West MichiganOver the last week, the Grandville senior was named Ms. Cross Country by the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association while also establishing a school record. 

Arnsman suffered a broken right foot during last year’s cross country season that required surgery.

“They told me there was a small possibility of even being able to run again,” Arnsman said. “It was very scary going into the surgery thinking that there was a 90-percent chance that I wouldn’t be able to run, but I had the doctors and the physical therapists that were able to get me back.”

Arnsman sustained the injury during the third meet of her junior season when she stepped in a hole on the course.

Originally, doctors didn’t think the injury was serious.

“They kept telling us it was just a sprain, and after six weeks it would be healed,” said Arnsman, who wore a boot on her right foot.

Arnsman returned to run in the final three races of last year, and finished 17th overall in the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final.

However, she still felt uncertain that her foot was completely healed.

“It was really painful when I ran and I thought something was still wrong, but I wanted to finish out my junior year and I was grateful that I did,” Arnsman said. “Right after the state meet I had an MRI, and it revealed that it was broken.”

Arnsman missed the track & field season due to her recovery after surgery. She began running again in late spring and then returned in August for her senior year.

Arnsman, bottom row center, takes her place on the medal stand next to Holland West Ottawa champion Helen Sachs, far right. “It was a tough injury for her to overcome, but she came back and we started talking about goals for the season,” Grandville girls cross country coach Rachael Steil said. “I told her that I thought she had the potential to finish in the top five (at the Finals) and we joked about her winning.

“She had so much untapped potential, and she did so well on little mileage. She doesn’t realize how talented she is, but with the hard work she put in I felt like it was going to be a really good season.”

Arnsman ran well throughout the season and continued to drop her times.

At the Finals, she exceeded her own expectations by placing runner-up in Division 1 behind West Ottawa’s Helen Sachs. 

Arnsman finished with a time of 17 minutes, 43 seconds at Michigan International Speedway.

“I was just trying to go out with the front pack, and I wanted to stick up close and then close in in the last mile,” she said. “It was tough to catch her because she went out very fast, and I wasn't used to that pace. The weather conditions weren't great, and I just couldn't get up there.”

Still, Arnsman was ecstatic about her finish.

“I was really excited,” she said. “Coming into the season I did not think I could even be top three and I was hoping for a top 15, so placing second was amazing. It was a dream.”

Arnsman got more good news after the race as she was the top senior in all divisions and was named Ms. Cross Country.

“When they pulled me aside in the room I had the biggest smile on my face,” Arnsman said. “I knew going in that it was a possibility, but of course I didn't know right away. I was so excited.”

A week later, Arnsman ran in the MITCA Meet of Champions and became the fastest girl in Grandville school history when she finished second with a time of 17 minutes flat.

The previous record of 17:20 was set by Madison Troy in 2015.

“She was drastically improving through the season, and I knew the possibilities were endless for her,” Steil said. “She has great form, and she’s strong from all the weight training she did. She put all the little pieces together, and they came together at the right time.”

Arnsman will run for Grand Valley State next year, but it’s been a journey that was somewhat unexpected after growing up as an accomplished soccer player.

She stopped playing soccer after her sophomore year to focus on running.

“I grew up in soccer, so it was scary going into a new sport and giving up something that I loved,” Arnsman said. “It was a different sport and a whole new environment that I wasn’t used to, but I’m grateful that I was able to have the success I did. ... I never thought about running in college. I thought I would be playing college soccer.”

Arnsman, who ended her cross country career as a three-time Finals qualifier, will run indoor track & field this winter before running outdoor in the spring with her team.

Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at dream100@comcast.net with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Grandville’s Allie Arnsman runs toward the finish at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Cross Country Final on Nov. 5. (Middle) Arnsman, bottom row center, takes her place on the medal stand next to Holland West Ottawa champion Helen Sachs, far right. (Click for more from RunMichigan.com.)