It’s been a fast and furious season for the Father Gabriel Richard girls’ cross country team. And the Irish capped off an impressive run by taking 21st place on Friday at the Division 2 MHSAA Cross Country State Finals at Michigan International Speedway.
The Irish finished third at last Saturday’s Division 2 Regional at Lake Erie Metropark to qualify for the state finals.
FGR Coach Jim Spencer says he’s been “navigating unknown paths” during this unusual and challenging cross country season.
“I would presume every XC coach this season has had to adapt on a daily basis,” he said. “It was obvious at the start of the season that we would be relying on our younger runners especially our sophomores; they are the largest group on the team. At the start of the season, I knew that we had some talented athletes that needed experience racing.”
Despite the limited races because of a shortened season, the Irish picked up the pace and improved as the season ran along.
“With the limited number of races they really came together and formed a strong, confident and cohesive team,” Spencer said. “Our top six, Gianna Hoving, Izzie Lashaway, Gianna Schubert, Erin Stuk, Elise Bodary and Clare Miller have been consistent over the season. With Anna Hale over the last few races we have had a very solid varsity seven. This has been a very impressive group.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHSAA decided to split the state finals into two races for each division to limit the number of participants for each race. The first race was for Regional third-place teams and individual qualifiers and the second race was for Regional winners and second-place teams. The final results would be determined by times.
The Irish finished with 484 points on Friday to place 21st overall in a fast and competitive field. Petoskey took first with 68 points followed by East Grand Rapids (79), Grand Rapids Christian (143) and Cadillac (206).
Leading the way for the Irish was Hoving, who finished in 54th place with a time of 20:08.39. The junior took first overall in the Regional with a time of 19:56.9.
Lashaway, a senior who was 15th (21:10.8) at Regionals, had a strong showing at states with a time of 21:08.26, which was 123rd place.
Sophomore Schubert was 146th (21:21.88), freshman Stuk was 149th (21:24.75), sophomore Miller ran 224th (22:45.59), sophomore Bodary was 239th (23:30.31) and sophomore Hale was 241st (23:41.76).
In the D-2 boys’ race, Kenny Lashaway finished off his high school career with a strong showing. The senior ran a time of 17:20.1 and finished 91st overall in the state finals. Lashaway was 14th at Regionals, ninth and Pre-Regionals and placed first in two dual-meets this season for FGR.