By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
MHSAA Lower Peninsula Finals race day in 1997 looks a little gray as the Class B participants are taking their first strides above.
But it turned out to carry plenty of significance in the four-decade history of Michigan girls cross country.
The LP Class B race at Michigan International Speedway was memorable for Fremont, which claimed its first and still only title by edging runner-up Whitehall 111-118. Harmony Dykhuis claimed the individual title for Fremont in 19:41.
The Class A race included a few more significant details. Rochester Adams freshman Katie Boyles won the race in 19:07, by more than four seconds, claiming her first of what would be four individual MHSAA cross country championships. She remains the only girl in MHSAA history to win four Finals titles in Lower Peninsula Class A or Division 1, and one of seven total to win four Finals in any division or class. Her string of four titles beginning in 1997 also was significant because that season was the first that the MHSAA awarded only one individual champion per class/division, rather than an individual champion from the team qualifiers and an individual champion from those who weren't running as part of a team finalist.
Ann Arbor Pioneer was an easy champion in the Class A team competition with 68 points, 46 fewer than runner-up Rockford with Emily Magner leading the way with an eighth-place individual finish. The team was coached by the legendary Bryan Westfield, who previously had led his 1987 and 1988 teams to LP Class A titles and also eventually guided the Pioneers' girls track & field program to 16 MHSAA Finals championships with the most recent coming in 2008. He died after a fight with cancer in 2015.
Kalamazoo Hackett won the Class C team title, its first in the sport, and Mendon also was a first-time winner in Class D before repeating as champ a year later. Saginaw Valley Lutheran's Bethany Brewster claimed the Class C individual title in 18:46 after also winning the individual race championship in 1996, and Mendon's Kasey Culp was the 1997 individual champion after finishing first in the team race the year prior.
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.
@mhsaasports 🏃♀️POW: Rachel Forsyth #xc #crosscountry #pioneer #pr #personalrecord #congrats #letsgo #annarbor #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #MHSAA #fyp ♬ original sound - MHSAA
@mhsaasports 🏃♀️POW: Rachel Forsyth #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #tv #republicofdoyle #disneymovies #mulan #frozen #running #icecream #swimming #emoji #performanceoftheweek #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA
Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.
MHSAA.com's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
(PHOTOS by Run Michigan.)