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.
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.)
Rachel Forsyth ♦ Ann Arbor Pioneer
Senior ♦ Cross Country
The latest in a long line of Pioneer distance stars, Forsyth began her final high school cross country season with a nearly 26-second victory in the big-school race at the Benzie Central Pete Moss Invitational on Saturday. She ran a personal-record 17:09.24, which says a ton considering her past work; Forsyth was the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Final champion in 2021 as a sophomore and the 2020 runner-up in her first trip to Michigan International Speedway. What's more, she was followed in this Benzie race by reigning Division 3 champion Jessica Jazwinski of Hart in second and last year's Division 4 champion Aiden Harrand of Buckley in third as Pioneer finished second as a team against an elite field.
An injury delayed the start of Forsyth's junior season last fall until the end of September, and she ran only 62nd at the LPD1 Final five weeks later. But she was clearly back to unstoppable during track season, setting personal records in the 3,200, 1,600, 800 and 400 while going undefeated in individual events for the spring and winning LPD1 Finals championships in the 800, 1,600 and as part of the 3,200 relay. She and her siblings have enjoyed an incredible run of success over the last decade; older sister Anne Forsyth was a four-time top-15 cross country finisher at LPD1 Finals and runner-up as a junior in 2016, and sister Sarah Forsyth twice finished among the top 10 individually and as a senior with Rachel in 2021 helped Pioneer to the team title.
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(PHOTOS by Run Michigan.)