Thornapple Kellogg High School
Girls Varsity Cross Country
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Aug 25, 2023
Girls Cross Country, Second to Jenison, Under the Lights, at South Christian
Jenison 65, TK 91, Zeeland West 94, GR Ottawa Hills 106, KZoo Central 111, Hudsonville 114, Fruitport 128, Forest Hills N 144.
Cross country by nature is not typically known as being run at night under the lights, but one time a year, athletes from around the state converge upon the campus of South Christian High School to do just that. Going into this unique event I told the girls, “Just enjoy this race for the weirdness and coolness that it is. Don’t get too worked up about it. It’s your first race of the season. If you do really well or if you don’t do as well as you would like, don’t let your highs get too high or your lows get too low. Think of this as a time trial. It will be a data point, because this is either just your first race of the season, or your first ever at the high school level.”
I already knew that by the time the night ended there would be some athletes that would be thrilled with their results and some that would not; it’s human nature. However, I also knew that all of our girls were going to put their best foot forward on the night and have themselves an experience. They indeed had a unique experience running under the lights over small rolling hills, with twists and turns, and true to their character, they didn’t just run…they competed. They competed with themselves, they competed against the darkness much of the time, they competed with the bumpy course, they competed against time, they competed for places on our team, and they competed against the girls from opposing teams. So, there was no shortage of competing and they all did great!
Although not surprisingly, Selma Anderson from Ottawa Hills dominated the “Midnight Big School Division” in 17:52, and she was followed by Anna Alkema from Kalamazoo Central, who crossed the line second in 19:21. TK’s front running junior, Ava Crews, was very close at hand in 19:25, which was nearly a personal record (PR) from last season. Next, for TK was freshmen Elli Harmon, who put a lot of pressure on herself, and like everyone else, she was nervous to start her first race of the season. However, she ran with poise and determination to finish 13th overall. She was also the second freshman in the race overall, in an impressive time of 20:32. Following Ellie was another freshman who also ran very strong, and that was Meghan-Jane Skidmore, in an amazing time of 21:21 placing 21st overall. Also dipping under 22-minutes was a varsity veteran and sophomore, Mady Kietzman, who worked through her own challenges to finish in a PR of 21:34, and placing 26th. Senior leader and veteran varsity athlete Holly Velting also ran sub-22 in 21:56, which would have been her PR last season, crossing the line in 28th. The hard charging and determined freshman, Peyton Hardy finished not too much later for TK in 22:23 and 37th overall. Rounding out the top seven was sophomore Avery Hagemann, in 23:25, who is not new to running, but this race was her high school cross country debut, and she finished 53rd overall.
In any given season, for us to be competitive in our area, I have always maintained that, at minimum, we need a girl or two at the pointy end of the race, and our top five (if not top seven) under 22-minutes. We demonstrated in this race that we are capable of such things. I have a feeling that after Peyton Hardy gets more training and racing experience under her belt, that she will be running sub-22 as well.
There will likely be a battle for the seventh spot on our team all season long, and I won’t be surprised if that position changes hands several times leading into “championship season”. For example, freshman Carmen Reynolds gave a great effort, finishing 8th for TK in a time of 23:32, and Megan Schuurmans was hot on her heels with a strong performance in 23:33. So, that seventh spot is going to be hotly contested. This is not to say that our 1-6 spots will always be a lock, but it’s tough to hold the final varsity spot down when there are people so close in ability in that space. Another senior leader of ours, Kate Powers, finished 10th for us in 23:56 and also has the potential to knock on the varsity door.
Although she was disappointed with her finish, freshman Alaina McCrumb had a very respectable showing for her first ever high school cross country race and came in 11th for us in 24:18. She is yet another that with more experience training and racing will be moving up throughout the year. She was followed by freshman Hailey Lee, who finished in 24:39. With not as many summer miles as other girls on our team, it will take time for Hailey to get up to where I believe she is capable of being. She’s a really good athlete and a tough nut.
Next for the Trojans was freshman Raylee Preston, who gave it her all and finished in a respectable 27:05. I expect that she will be breaking 27 soon and will start looking toward breaking 26 by mid-season.
Sophomore Lucy Teunessen worked hard in her first race to finish in 28:43, and rounding out our team’s finishers was sophomore Devon Barnhill finishing her first high school cross country meet crossed the line in 33:48, and I believe with better pacing and greater confidence, she will soon grow in this sport as well.
Although they didn’t run in the race, it should be noted that seniors Mollie Moore and Laine Hinton provided necessary and appreciated support for the team in a variety of ways with their leadership and guidance.
So, I started by saying that I told the girls to not get too high or too low…but then I looked at the team results and I had to work on curbing my own enthusiasm. Although I planned on looking at times and places of the athletes and the place of our team with curiosity and to gain more data points, I wasn’t putting a lot of emotional stock into this race. However, when I saw that we finished in front of a handful of our OK Gold Conference rivals, I couldn’t help but to have a big smile on my face, let out a war whoop, and give my son Frank, who was standing next to me, an enthusiastic knuckle bump. Having said this, I realize it is very early in the season and all may not be as it seems. We have much more work to do, more to prove to ourselves, and so does every other team out there. It’s way too early to be dancing jigs or getting ahead of ourselves, but we can and should feel good about the data points we created in this race.
The girls did outstanding. I couldn’t be more pleased with what they did in this race. With Ava leading the way, with our veteran leadership, and our red hot freshman, we have the potential to do something cool…maybe a few “somethings”. Our girls are fierce competitors and our bumper crop of freshmen have come in and they have given us a much needed boost. Seeing them run over the last few years in middle school we knew they were special and they are delivering. This was a good start for us.
Congratulations on a great start to the season ladies. Although we still have a lot of work to do, you should all be very proud of yourselves. I know I am proud of all of you!