Performance: Oak Park's Anna Jefferson

June 2, 2016

Anna Jefferson
Oak Park senior – Track & Field

Jefferson this weekend will finish one of the finest careers in recent Michigan high school track & field history. She’s won two individual MHSAA Finals championships and run on four title-winning relays over the last three seasons and holds the Lower Peninsula Division 1 and all-Finals record in the 400 meters of 53.50 seconds, which she set as a sophomore. She shined again in her final local meet Friday, winning both the 400 (54.93) and 100 hurdles (14.10) at the Oakland County Championships to earn the Michigan National Guard Performance of the Week.

Jefferson’s times Friday either set or tied her lowest in those events this season, and she’ll enter Saturday’s Finals having run the second-fastest LP Division 1 Regional times in both races. After winning the 400 as both a freshman and sophomore, Jefferson finished second in both that race and the 200 at the 2015 Finals. She decided to take up hurdles again this spring to help her improve her 400 time, and her fastest 200 (24.27) and 300 hurdles times this season (43.89) according to also would have placed her among the fastest Regional finishers in those races across the division this spring.

She also ran on winning 400 (47.78) and 800 (1:38.74) relays at the Oakland County meet as Oak Park won the team title. Her 400 relay enters this weekend with the top Regional time in the division, and her 800 relay posted the second-fastest. Jefferson has signed to continue her track career this fall at University of Virginia; she is undecided on a major but carries a 3.6 grade-point average. She also has run cross country at Oak Park throughout her varsity career.

Coach Brandon Jiles said: “Anna has so many great qualities that make her a special athlete. A few of the things that stand out are her commitment, reliability, leadership and how quickly she adapts and learns. Throughout her high school career, Anna has been a major team player, not only in just track but also cross country, going above and beyond to help the team score points. In this day and age it’s rare for an athlete to sacrifice individual glory for team success; Anna has done that. She also has handled business academically, being an honor roll student every semester of high school. She has been a major part of the success and growth of Oak Park High School track and field. We are going to miss her.”

Performance Point: “(Oakland County) was one of the toughest meets I’ve had this season, with the exception of Regionals. It really gave me insight into how I need to perform at states, what I need to work on, and my strong points and weak points. I learned I have to have a better recovery, take one race at a time, (learned) small things I need to critique in hurdles. I need to keep working harder in the 400, and (improve) some small things in my relays.”

Jumping hurdles (again): “I did hurdles in middle school. I really wanted to get my 400 time down, or just in general get my times down, and in middle school I noticed running hurdles made me faster. I’d see other people (who added hurdles) run open events a lot quicker than they used to be, and my mom wanted me to go back to running hurdles – I was like, why not? It wasn’t too hard, but it was a little tough. I had to learn to adjust to hurdle workouts; they do longer workouts than sprinters and quarter-milers. The one thing I learned that comes with hurdles is your muscles need to adjust to hurdles. My body got used to it, and it got easier to adjust now.”  

Lasting legacy: “I just want to be remembered as a person that worked hard, was team-oriented, and whenever it came down to crunch time and I had to perform, that I tried my best and was a dependable teammate. I’d love to win the 400, but my dream scenario for this weekend is to come home knowing I ran my races the best I could, like I was supposed to, and that my coaches are proud of me and I’m proud of myself for running the type of races I have.”

Home at Virginia: “I really felt comfortable there. Comfort is a really big thing to me. … It has an old feel but a modern feel to it also. The whole track team is like one family; there aren’t cliques like distance runners with distance runners, sprinters with sprinters. Everyone mingles together, everyone from different sports, and the coaches were really welcoming and everything was just beautiful. It was kinda like falling in love with a school at first sight.”

Questions & Answers: “I know I really like science class, and I also like math too. With science, you get to explore a lot of different things, and a lot of things about the human body interest me – I have a lot of questions about it, like what makes this work like that, how it reacts to something else. Math, it’s numbers, and numbers don’t lie. With math there are a bunch of equations and calculations to go through, but (there’s nothing) more accurate than numbers, and you can’t get better than that.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2015-16 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom, or protecting lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2015-16 honorees
May 25: Connor Bandel, Oxford boys track & field - Read 
May 18: Kalyn Breckenridge, Birch Run girls soccer - Read 
May 11: Morgan Beadlescomb, Algonac boys track & field - Read
May 4: Abby Krzywiecki, Farmington Hills Mercy softball - Read
April 27: Mike Mokma, Holland Christian baseball - Read
April 20: Abby Divozzo, Cadillac girls soccer - Read
March 30: Cassius Winston, Detroit U-D Jesuit boys basketball - Read
March 23: Kierra Fletcher, Warren Cousino girls basketball - Read
March 16: Jacob Montague, Grosse Pointe South swimming & diving - Read
March 9: Kyle Tuttle, St. Charles boys bowling - Read
March 2: Brittney Schnicke, Caledonia girls bowling - Read
Feb. 24: Kamari Newman, Detroit East English boys basketball - Read
Feb. 17: Jason Whitens, Powers North Central boys basketball - Read 
Feb. 10: Rachel Hogan, Grand Ledge gymnastics - Read
Feb. 3: Nehemiah Mork, Midland Dow swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 27: Mardrekia Cook, Muskegon girls basketball - Read
Jan. 20: Sage Castillo, Hartland wrestling - Read
Jan. 13: Rob Zofchak, Dexter swimming & diving - Read
Jan. 6: Tyler Deming, Caro wrestling – Read
Dec. 15: Jordan Weber, East Jordan boys basketball – Read
Dec. 8: Kaitlyn Geers, Kent City girls basketball – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Oak Park's Anna Jefferson clears a hurdle during Friday's Oakland County Championships at Waterford Mott. (Middle) Jefferson leads the competition during one of her four individual or relay wins at the meet. (Photos by Dave McCauley/ 

Multi-Sprint Champ Racing to Finish Huron Career Ahead of the Rest Again

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

May 25, 2023

NEW BOSTON – If there was one thing Elizabeth Anderson took pride in elementary school, it was simply showing that she could outrun everyone in sight. 

Greater DetroitIn fact, Anderson has an explanation for all the success she had in those playground races.

“Dominance when you are in elementary school,” Anderson quipped. “I don’t think I ever had a nickname. I just think everyone knew I was fast.”

Years later, pretty much everyone who follows track & field in the state of Michigan can attest to that. 

A senior for New Boston Huron, Anderson has been faster than most other competitors in the state during her three-year high school career (with her freshman season in 2020 canceled due to COVID-19). 

Last year, Anderson won titles at the Lower Peninsula Division 2 Finals in the 200-meter (25.07) and 400-meter (56.28) dashes, and was runner-up in the 100-meter dash (12.23). 

Often, top sprinters focus on one or two of those three races. But Anderson is certainly a different breed of sprinter because she does all three.

In fact, she holds school records in all three of those events, and if all that weren’t enough, Anderson is a part of all three sprint relay teams. 

“It is hard to give her events off,” said New Boston Huron head girls track coach Danielle Lobato.

Despite the different styles the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes present, Anderson said there usually isn’t much adjusting when she goes from one of those races to another.

Anderson, middle, outpaces the field to also win the 200.The strategy is simply, “Let’s beat the other girls to the finish line.”

“I don’t really go into each race changing up how I would run,” she said. 

While enjoying and succeeding in all three races, Anderson said she actually does have a favorite among them.

“I would say the 400 is probably my favorite,” she said. “Even though it hurts, it’s satisfying to see how much you can get your time down in the 400 compared to any other race.”

Anderson said she started running track in sixth grade, but really got serious about it during the summer after her sophomore season, when she was invited to run for a local club. 

Eventually, that led to her competing over the winter in indoor events.

She lived and breathed track so much that last fall, she decided to not run cross country so she could focus on a weightlifting regimen aimed at developing more leg strength.

“Once I started doing summer track, I realized I wanted to be doing this all the time,” she said. 

Lobato said oftentimes in practice, Anderson is a de facto coach, given there is no better person she can think of for the younger runners on the team to learn from.

“I can’t always demonstrate these things I’m trying to teach,” she said. “You get to see it in real life (from Anderson), not in a YouTube video.”

After winning the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes at her Regional meet last week, Anderson has her sights set on achieving the same trifecta of titles at next Saturday’s Finals in Grand Rapids. 

Anderson has signed to run track at Michigan State, but has been plenty motivated to keep producing this spring in her final high school season.

“I’m really looking to defend my titles,” she said. “That is what is really motivating me to keep going. I want to keep in shape for the college season. I don’t want to lose any of the progress I have made. Ultimately, I just love running track.”

And since elementary school, Anderson has loved — and succeeded in — outrunning everyone else to the finish line. 

“We knew we were getting something special,” Lobato said of when Anderson arrived in high school. “But you never expect this. All that she has accomplished is amazing.”

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTOS (Top) New Boston Huron's Elizabeth Anderson clears the finish line during last season's LPD2 400 race. (Middle) Anderson, middle, outpaces the field to also win the 200. (Click for more from