All Cross Country Stories

Stevenson's girls cross country team celebrates their overall win at the Macomb County Invitational. (David Dalton)

Cross Country

CROSS COUNTRY: Stevenson girls win championship at Macomb County Invitational VIDEO

Chippawa Valley's Naralie Cizmas crosses the finish line in sixth place. (David S. Angell)

The start of the girls varsity run at the Macomb County Invitational. (David S. Angell)

Eisenhower's Samantha Allmacher finishes second. (David S. Angell)

Stevenson's girls team got the cross country season off to a flying start on Saturday.

What's that you say? Didn't the high school cross country season start in late August?

Maybe so, but that's not the calendar the Titans use.

"This year, probably more than ever, we consider today to be our first meet," said Stevenson coach Kevin Hanson after the Titans won the overall championship at the Macomb County Invitational at the Baypoint Beach course at Stony Creek Metropark.

"The county meet is the first meet, then conference, regional and state. We explain to the young kids that the first part of the season is to learn all the lessons to have them ready for the first meet and beyond."

It's a philosophy that works. This year's championship was the 25th in Hanson's 32 seasons as coach at Stevenson. The Titans also have been runner-up in the county six times.

Stevenson finished with 78 points. Regina, second overall with 90 points, took first place among the smaller schools in the county.

It was close among the top five in the overall standings. Eisenhower was third with 101 points, followed by Romeo with 104 and Lutheran North with 105.

The Mustangs' Gina Patterson was the girls individual winner for the second straight season with a winning time of 18:45. Eisenhower's Samantha Allmacher was second at 19:21 with Dakota's Marah Pugh five seconds behind in third place.

Stevenson had two runners in the top five, sophomores Samantha Hanson and Allison Shannon, who took fourth and fifth, respectively.

"We ran solid today, but two people ran really well, Allison Shannon and our fourth girl, who was third today, Jenna Anderson," said Kevin Hanson. "Both stepped up and did a nice job.

"We talk about individual jobs. Who wants to be the hero? Don't have bad days, just good days and great days. A bad day should be when your great day turns into a good day."

Kevin Hanson said that competing in the tough Macomb Area Conference Red Division with state power Grosse Pointe South is a good thing for his team.

"Grosse Pointe South makes all of us better," he said. "Grosse Pointe South raises the bar. In some of the other divisions people think they're better than they are because there's a whole other world outside the division. We don't have kids running 20-flat and thinking they're a world beater. They're saying, 'what can I do to get better?' Losing to Grosse Pointe South doesn't defeat us, it allows the rest of us to think that if they can do it, so can we. We can do better. It changes the bar of what you think is good."

Miranda Wolanin and Ashlie Baumann rounded out the Stevenson scoring.

Patterson overcame a stress fracture that cost her most of last spring's track season, but she seems to have made a complete recovery.

"Coming back from the stress fracture pushed me to run harder and change a few things," she said. "It gave me the courage to go out and train harder. It was almost a blessing in disguise. I was sad that I had to miss out on my track season, but I could start cross country stronger by changing some little things."

Coach Tim Grotelueschen was surprised at how quickly Patterson rounded back into top form.

"(The injury) was really tough for her but I was amazed at how fast she came back from it," he said. "If we didn't hold her back, she could have run fast the first week back. It wouldn't have been safe, but she's blessed with amazing talent.

"She has already broken 18 and last year she didn't break 18 until the state meet. She's run her fastest October time."

Patterson, a junior who won the state Division 3 cross country championship last year, ran her typical race at the county meet.

"My plan is to go out and run a strong, hard first mile and keep going from there," she said.

Patterson said that she doesn't know what caused the stress fracture.

"So I can't say, that's something I won't do again because I might hurt it," she said. "It's in the back of my mind to be cautious. Be smart but work hard."

Patterson enjoys running so being sidelined for three months was difficult.

"My faith helped me," she said. "I trust that God has a plan for me and it will make me a stronger and better person. It was a difficult time, but I really appreciate running even more. It gave me a new appreciation for the sport."

Grotelueschen said that it has been difficult to find competition for Patterson.

"She runs her best in competition, but right now it's tough for her because she gets out in front and has to keep focus on her own," he said. "In the state meet, she was able to key off a couple people and then she put the hammer down at the mile.

"Today there were runners within range of her, about 20 seconds behind. I've tried to get some boys and girls races combined so she could key off a boy. She amazes me the way she focuses. And she's the nicest girl you could find, so humble, cheering everybody else along at the finish line."

Regina coach Gregg Golden said that the Saddlelites achieved their main goal of winning the smaller schools division.

"It wasn't our best day but certainly not our worst," he said. "They ran hard. Overall, we're pleased with how we did.

"Stephanie Latos, Lauren Valentini and Teresa Diehl ran extremely well. The strength of our varsity team is that our seven kids are tightly packed together. They did a good job of that today and that's what we need to do to keep being successful."

Golden was also pleased with the performance of Bridgette Louwers, who won the junior varsity race.

Cassie Bloch led Regina with a 12th place finish overall and Jenny Ponkowski was 15th. Elizabeth Bloch completed the Saddlelites' scoring.

"We were terrific at the beginning of the year, leveled off a little bit and now we hope we're hitting an upswing," Golden said. "The girls are working hard. We never have any complaints about their work. That's all you can ask."

In winning the smaller schools division, Regina edged defending champion Lutheran North.

"The county meet is always a dogfight," Golden said. "You're going against teams like Stevenson, Eisenhower, Dakota, Romeo, Lutheran North. It's never easy. We have a great friendly rivalry with Lutheran North. We know they're always the team we have to beat in Division 2."

TEAM SCORES; Stevenson 78, Regina 90, Eisenhower 101, Romeo 104, Lutheran North 105, Dakota 194, Ford 253, Warren-Mott 257, Utica 264, Lakeview 288, Chippewa Valley 299, Richmond 312, Warren Woods-Tower 342, Fraser 352, L'Anse Creuse North 459, Sterling Heights 459, Anchor Bay 463, L'Anse Creuse 502, Armada 555, Cousino 589, Lake Shore, Roseville, Center Line, South Lake and Parkway Christian had no team scores.

INDIVIDUALS: 1, Gina Patterson, LN, 18:45. 2, Samantha Allmacher, Eis, 19:21. 3, Marah Pugh, Dak, 19:26. 4, Samantha Hanson, Stev, 19:31. 5, Allison Shannon, Stev, 19:51. 6, Natalie Cizmas, CV, 19:56. 7, Jenna Briney, LN, 19:58.

8, Macy Gustavus, AB, 19:59. 9, Megan Greb, Rom, 19:59. 10, Alicia Arnold, Rom, 20:02. 11, Colleen McCarthy, Eis, 20:10. 12, Cassie Bloch, Reg, 20:11. 13, Shelby Knoll, WM, 20:12. 14, Madeline Wesley, CV, 20:16.

15, Jenny Ponkowski, Reg, 20:18. 16, Haley Boccomino, CL, 20:21. 17, Stephanie Latos, Reg, 20:21. 18, Jenna Anderson, Stev, 20:22. 19, Autumn Klein, Rom, 20:23. 20, Meredith Sorensen, Utica, 20:26. 21, Alexis Kearney, Rom, 20:28.

Last Updated: 10/12/2013 4:57:03 PM EST