By Terry Jacoby/weloveannarbor.com
Rachel Forsyth finished off one of the best running careers in Michigan’s long history of high school cross country with her second victory in four runs at the MHSAA Division 1 Girls’ Cross Country State Finals with the fastest time ever recorded at Michigan International Speedway. The Pioneer senior ran past the field to cross first in a record-shattering 16 minutes, 28.5 seconds, and helped lead her team to a second-place finish on Saturday under cloudy skies in Brooklyn.
What little sun there was certainly shined on Forsyth, who crushed the old record of 16:52.1 set by Lansing Catholic’s Olivia Theis in the 2017 Division 2 race.
In Saturday’s race, Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills senior Selma Anderson was a distant second in 17:13.6, beating Rochester’s Lucy Cook (17:19.7) by a few steps.
Forsyth, who won every race she ran this season, was first in 2020 as a freshman in her race at MIS with a time of 17:55.60 when the event was split into two runs because of Covid. Based on her time, she was second overall. She was first as a sophomore in 2021 in 17:09.32. Health issues slowed her down last year resulting in her missing a big part of the season. She returned late in the year and placed 62nd at MIS.
Pioneer took second overall with 126 points in the team standings on Saturday, well behind champion Romeo with 65 points. A distant third was Holland West Ottawa with 186 points. Brighton was fourth with 189 points, Saline ran fifth with 202 points and Northville took sixth with 237 points.
Skyline, which qualified with its third-place finish at Regionals, finished 17th with 424 points out of 28 teams in the field.
The Pioneers had five seniors at the top of the lineup card on Saturday. After Forsyth, Lydia Bowman was 23rd (18:29), Sylvia Sanok Dufallo was 44th (18:58.7), Katie Hume was 49th (19:01.6) and Natalie Mello was 57th (19:10.5). Freshman Nina Moore was 96th (19:38.4) and sophomore Quincy Behm was 112th (19:43.7).
“I think the team ran really great on Saturday,” said Pioneer Coach Nancy Shafer Boudreau. “We knew Romeo was the team to beat and even if we ran our absolute best, it would be tough to beat them. However, second place at the state meet is a great accomplishment.”
Shafer Boudreau was proud of all her runners.
“Rachel ran her normal amazing race and won, breaking the course record by 25 seconds,” Shafer Boudreau said. “And Lydia Bowman had an amazing race, finishing 23rd and earning all-state honors along with Rachel. Sylvie dropped her time by exactly 1 minute over last year and Katie dropped her time by over a minute. Both Natalie and Quincy also ran faster this year than last year. Finally, our only freshman, Nina, was not intimidated by the magnitude of the event and ran a very solid race! We are truly going to miss our five seniors next year, but we have faith that our young runners will improve over the next year and will be ready to step into their shoes.”
The Skyline Eagles showed off their promising future with three freshmen running in the event. Leading the way at MIS was ninth-grader Becca van Lent who finished 48th in 19:01.2. Top 50 for a freshman? Not bad. Not bad at all.
Skyline Allison Mayer completed her strong senior season with a time of 19:15.1 to finish 64th overall. Freshman Irie Scrase was 89th (19:33.7), junior Ayla Balazer was 159th (20:14.2), senior Alexandria Mason was 233rd (21:20.2), freshman Katie Yuan was 243rd (21:43.1) and senior Aileen Bachrens was 254th (22:23.2).
Huron and Dexter had two runners apiece qualify for the State Finals.
Senior Sonya Shelgikar was 50th in 19:03.1 and junior Lucinda Paliani was 132nd in 19:58.4 for the River Rats. Dexter junior Alena Blumberg was 119th (19:50) and junior Addison Bruckman was 167th (20:20.2) for the Dreadnaughts.