Upper Peninsula's Speediest Contenders Becoming Fast Friends As Well

By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com

September 23, 2021

CALUMET — They’re becoming close friends off the trails, but they’re fierce competitors on the cross country course.

Houghton senior Ingrid Seagren and Ishpeming sophomore Lola Korpi have emerged as the Upper Peninsula’s top two runners at this point in the season.

Seagren has won 2-of-3 meetings this year, but it was Korpi’s turn to win Monday at the Calumet Invitational.

Korpi covered the hilly 3.1-mile course in 21 minutes, 18.3 seconds at the Swedetown Trails on a hot, sunny and breezy day. Seagren was clocked at 21:39.3.

“I think it all depends on who’s feeling better on that day and the course,” said Korpi. “Ingrid is a very good downhill runner, and I wanted to make sure I pushed myself on those. I think the uphills worked to my advantage, and I was glad to see that last one before the finish.

“There was a pack of us for a while. It was pretty hot out there and I couldn’t feel the wind in the woods.”

Seagren won the Queen City Invitational (Aug. 27) and Dale Phillips Invite (Sept. 3), both at Presque Isle Park in Marquette. Korpi was runner-up both times.

“She’s definitely good competition, and I enjoy running against her,” said Seagren. “It’s hard to take her on the uphills. I didn’t feel the best today (Monday). I’ve had kind of a cold, but did the best I could. Lola ran a great race. I’m happy for her. It just wasn’t my day. That was a tough course and the heat was a factor for everybody. I didn’t feel the breeze, although I think it helped. There were quite (a few) of us up there (near the front) in the beginning.”

They were followed by Gogebic (Bessemer) junior Natalie Stone (22:08.8), and Negaunee junior Endla Harris (22:12.7) and freshman Marlee Plaxco (22:30.55).

Houghton cross country“I was pleased with my time because it’s a harder course,” said Korpi. “Ingrid and I are becoming good friends, and I think I’m getting closer with her and other girls. I’ve been dealing with some calf issues, but it seems to be getting better.”

Korpi and Seagren will meet at least four more times this season, but won’t be running in the same race at the Upper Peninsula Finals.

Ishpeming is entered in Division 2, and Houghton will try to repeat in Division 1.

“I’m expecting a tough race in the D1 Finals,” said Seagren. “I think we just need to keep pushing each other in practice. We would like to do it again. Paige (Sleeman) and I are seniors this year. We’re a real close team.”

The U.P. Finals take place Oct. 23 at Gentz’s Golf Course in Chocolay Township (near Marquette).

Sleeman is reigning U.P. Division 1 champion, and Seagren placed third at Gentz’s a year ago. Sleeman, who was feeling under the weather, didn’t run at Calumet on Monday.

Korpi was Division 2 runner-up to Ironwood’s Aundrea Stengard on a snowy course at the George Young Golf Course at Gaastra (near Crystal Falls) last year.

John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTOS: (Top) Ishpeming's Lola Korpi (823) and Houghton's Ingrid Seagren (785) lead the Queen City Invitational. (Middle) Seagren and Paige Sleeman (787) race through the opening stretch with their teammates at the start of the Queen City race. (Photos by Cara Kamps.)

Performance of the Week: Ann Arbor Pioneer's Rachel Forsyth

September 1, 2023

Rachel ForsythRachel 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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