Girls Varsity Cross Country
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Nov 6, 2021
It was a good day.
The morning chill had a bite to it as we were about to board the bus, but the sun was rising in the mostly cloudless sky, and temperatures would rise to comfortably cool before it was all said and done.
It could have just been senior Jessica Durkee, junior Emelia MacDonald, freshman Ava Crews, Coach Reynolds, and Coach Wilkinson driving a van to a ghost town-like state meet at the Michigan International Speedway (MIS) like last season, but this year it was different. Stepping on the bus this time were not only the three qualifiers and coaches, but also many of the athletes from the girl’s team and a few from the boy’s team. It wasn’t just that fact that the bus had more passengers, but that this group of loyal friends and teammates were able to go and be a part of this experience with our three qualifiers together.
MIS is not like any other course we encountered throughout the season. It makes you feel small with it’s larger than life proportions. You have to adjust your brain and accept that one time around the track is not 400 meters, but two miles and that stretches of the course are longer than they seem. Furthermore, with the sheer volume of runners and with the high level of talent, it’s easy to allow yourself to get caught up in the enormity of it all. There were team tents of many colors, banners, flags, team chants, people running to shake off nervous energy, and a great deal of controlled chaos. MIS was no ghost town this time. It was a thriving small city full of high school spirit and running shoes.
Our conglomerate of cross country Trojans walked together for the first mile in full support of our three champions who earned the opportunity to toe the line on the state’s biggest stage. Once we got to the mile marker it was time to send our representatives on to do their warm-up jog on their own and take in each other’s energy and hear each other’s ideas...or just each other’s footfalls if they so chose. Regardless, it was their time.
Ultimately, it was time to head to the line. The support crew of athletes, coaches, and parents all went in various strategic directions to do what we thought would be best to give a shout, a whistle, a whoop, to gather sweats, or whatever we could to spur on our girls in orange and black.
Some of us were too far away to hear the starter’s pistol, but it was evident that they were on their way as the mass of swift humanity made its way toward the first turn, which was nearly 600 meters from the start. With my head on a swivel I was able to catch very quick glimpses of our girls who were surrounded by a sea of jerseys from many different schools, and I shouted, “Nice work Ava!”
There’s no way she heard me through the shouts of the fans standing two and three deep lining that segment of the course; and that’s ok. She didn’t need to hear me. She was in her zone.
“Good start Jessie!”
“That’s it Emmie!”
Again...they couldn’t have heard. Again, they didn’t need to. They were engaged in battle and fighting hard.
Just after a mile and a half most of us were able to see them again. “Go get it Ava!”
“That’s it Emmie! Go Emmie!”
“Way to go Jessie! That’s it!”
Maybe they heard, maybe they didn’t. Again the shouts and cheers of so many fans were ringing out along the course.
Next I fought for position inside the track where the athletes would begin their final ¾ of a mile.
In my head...“1, 2, 3, 4…”
“17, 18, 19…”
“20, 21, 22…”
The top 30 earned medals and the title of “All-State”. A pipe dream for some, a once in a lifetime accomplishment for others, a strong possibility for others still, but a certainty for no one.
...still counting in my head, “29...c’mon Ava...c’mon. ...34, 35, 36.”
“Thirty-six! There she is!” I yelled in my head.
“That’s it Ava!!! Go get it! You’ve got to get six!” This time, out of my mouth, but likely on deaf ears and a focused mind. Ava was doing great and doing what Ava does…
My eyes were desperately scanning the field of runners flying by and my mind was asking,
“Where’s Emmie? Where’s Jessie? C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, you can do it.”
“Let’s go Jessie! Go get it!” ...she is so strong...and so fun to watch...man am I going to miss her.
Still scanning…”Where’s Emmie? There’s no way. I must have missed her. Dang it!"
The sprint began across the infield with the mass of crazy fans trying to get just a glimpse of their respective athletes as they entered their final 200 meters.
I missed them. I was too late! Seriously?! Dang it!
As it turned out, Ava batted to 34th in 19:26 with a fantastic performance. Emmie crossed in 139th in 20:49, followed by Jessie in 149th, but only five seconds back. Places in nearly the mid-100s may not look that impressive if you only look at those numbers, but when you consider it was out of not just 254 runners, but 254 of the state’s finest runners in Division II; then you gain a little perspective. Times and place aside, these girls really gave it what they had and made us all proud.
After riding the tram through the tunnel and hooting and hollering to force an echo, as tradition holds, we then boarded the bus, and we left MIS and our last race of the season behind in the rearview mirror with our heads held high. For TK, for the cross country program, for their coach, for their families, for themselves…
It was a good day.