Michigan’s high school cross country teams have entered the home stretch of the 2021 season, with the championship races in both peninsulas to be run over the next three weekends.
For more than two decades, the best girls teams of the Lower Peninsula’s biggest schools have been chasing the 2000 Rockford Rams.
That season was the first of the MHSAA classifying its championship groupings using four equal divisions, and Rockford set a standard that few have approached as we near the completion of the first quarter of the 21st century.
Rockford won the Lower Peninsula Division 1 championship Nov. 4, 2000, at Michigan International Speedway with 35 points – 77 fewer than runner-up Milford and 197 fewer than third-place Troy. Five Rams finished among the top 15 individuals – senior Lindsey Blaisdell third, senior Kalin Toedebusch fourth, sophomore Nicole Bohnsack fifth, sophomore Kelsey Toedebusch ninth and senior Aimee Keenan 15th, which was actually 14th among runners involved in team scoring.
The next lowest Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals score was achieved two seasons later, again by Rockford, with a 57. Four more Lower Peninsula teams have scored in the 30s since the dawn of the divisions era – East Grand Rapids won Division 2 in 2019 with 36 points, while Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart broke Rockford’s LP record winning Division 4 with 34 points in 2016 before coming back to win again with 39 in 2017.
Rockford’s 2000 championship was its third of five straight, which remains the longest Finals title streak in Lower Peninsula history. Bohnsack went on to win the LPD1 individual championships as well in 2001 and 2002 and run collegiately at Penn State. Kalin Toedebusch ran at Colorado, Blaisdell ran at Wisconsin and Keenan ran at Michigan State. The first four of those five straight championship teams were coached by Brad Prins.
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Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read
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
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