St. Francis Follows Bullough to D3 Title

November 7, 2015

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

BROOKLYN — Holly Bullough knows something about playing with pain. 

She is, after all, from one of Michigan's most well-known football families.

So, she wasn't going to let a stress fracture in her left foot keep her from defending her MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 3 championship on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. 

Bullough wasn't able to run in practice the last two weeks, keeping in shape by hitting the spinning bike hard at a yoga center in Traverse City. It worked, as she was fit enough to dominate the Division 3 field, winning by 36.4 seconds with a time of 17:41.8.

Bullough shattered her own LP Division 3 record of 17:51.3, set last year when she surged ahead at the finish to edge Amber Way of Charlevoix by 0.2 seconds. 

"I was pretty tired," Bullough said. "I just needed to finish and try to finish as strong as I can."

She said she felt some of the effects of running only once in the previous two weeks, that being in the regional meet a week earlier when she won in 17:15.40. It was a week before regionals that she noticed something didn't feel right. 

"After this one meet, I was limping after it," she said. "I was like, "I need to get an X-ray.'"

The X-ray revealed a stress fracture in the second metatarsal bone in her left foot.

She has numerous examples in her own family of athletes who know a thing or two about toughing it out. Her grandfather, father and three brothers played football at Michigan State, with Riley and Byron on the current roster. Hank Bullough, her grandfather, was a starting guard on MSU's 1954 Rose Bowl championship team. Her father, Shane, was a linebacker at MSU. Brother Max is on the Houston Texans' roster.

An injury was going to be the only thing to keep Bullough from repeating as Division 3 champion. Nobody went out with her, as she built a 28-second lead by the two-mile mark.

"I was more worried coming into regionals, because that's when I had the longest break, but I was still nervous," Bullough said.

Winning the individual title was more special for Bullough this time around, because she was able to lead her team to a championship, as well. 

St. Francis scored 69 points to easily beat Benzie Central by 72. Shepherd was third with 181 points.

The Gladiators didn't even qualify for the Final last year, finishing sixth in their Regional to miss out on a trip to MIS for only the second time in 14 years. Bullough is the only runner from that regional lineup that ran in the Final on Saturday. 

"It's awesome. I love it. It's so much better than being alone," Bullough said.

Also scoring for the Gladiators were freshman Katelyn Duffing (fourth, 18:35.2), junior Emmalyne Tarsa (fifth, 18:42.3), sophomore Joyana Tarsa (12th, 19:05.1) and sophomore Lauren Bramer (66th, 20:23.5). 

The title was the second for St. Francis, which was the LP Division 4 champion in 2003.

Click for full results.

The MHSAA Cross Country Finals are sponsored by the Michigan National Guard.

PHOTOS: (Top) Alone on the final stretch, Traverse City St. Francis’ Holly Bullough surges toward the finish line. (Middle) Bullough and teammate Katelyn Duffing (1650) lead the St. Francis pack, including Emmalyne Tarsa (1653), off the start. (Click for more from

Kent City's Evers Selected for NFHS National 'Coach of the Year' Honor

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.