Cross Country

Belf blazing an impressive trail

  • The sky's the limit for Seaholm senior Audrey Belf.
  • Audrey Belf has had many moments of hitting the tape in first place.
  • At the Spartan Invitational, spectators watched Audrey Belf put great distances between herself and the competition.

Birmingham Seaholm senior the latest of distance standouts

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There’s food for thought and food for nourishment. And there’s also food for the taste of it, which is the ultimate delight for Audrey Belf.

The Birmingham Seaholm High School senior knows it sounds crazy, but every breakfast setting has to include her favorite cereal — Coco Crispies.

“I absolutely love Coco Crispies,” smiled Belf. “I eat it every morning for breakfast. I like them so much.”

To be sure, the chocolate-flavored cereal has been a staple in the Belf household for years, thanks to little Audrey’s tastes.

That’s all a part of Audrey’s world, which besides Coco-Crispies, include high academic achievement in the classroom, a dedicated work ethic and a certain proficiency in distance running.

To be sure, Belf, the defending Division 1 state cross country champion, is probably among the nation’s best high school distance runners.

Last week she won the first OAA Red Jamboree going away and torched a strong field at the Spartan Invitational, winning by more than 20 seconds.

She was unbeaten against Michigan competition during the last cross country season, and during track season, joined Rachel DaDamio, Patty Girardot and Brooke Callaghan on the state champion 3,200 relay which clocked an Oakland County record 8:59.08.

This past summer, she took first place in the 5,000-meter run at the USATF Outdoor Junior Nationals — for athletes 19 and under — clocking a career best 17:01.25. She was the only high school runner in the field of collegians.

“I was a little nervous (at first),” she said of contending against collegians. “(But)it was really exciting, it really increased my confidence for racing, especially my ability to outkick (others),” Belf said.

Just like many other youngsters in middle school, Belf dabbled in several sports, including soccer and swimming, but got hooked on running. “I started in middle school and I was a sprinter,” she said.

She liked being on the team so much that she stuck with running ,and the Maples have benefitted. She was on the 2012 state championship cross country team and ran on squads which took fourth at state in 2011 and again last year.

Belf’s development as an elite runner was only a matter of time, according to coach Jeff Devantier. “I didn’t think it took me by surprise, she’s been a driven athlete,” said Devantier, who has enjoyed amazing success the last several years with some amazing athletes. “It’s been a great ride.”

And the ride continues with Belf and the Maples, who are state contenders again. But Belf’s proficiency doesn’t stop at athletics. She’s an advanced placement student with a 4.4 grade point average and a liking for science.

“I used to hate it in middle school but I had some really good teachers (in high school) and it sparked my interest,” she said.

So much so that she plans on a science-related curriculum in college, when she makes her choice, and a subsequent career in the medical field. She plans on four official visits, but chose not to reveal her choices. But Michigan, Michigan State and other big-time programs are believed to be on her recruiting trail, a process which can be stressful at times. “I’m trying to get it done early so I can focus on my season,” said Belf, who is awed by the fact of athletic scholarship possibilities being real. “I used to ask my dad if I had a chance to run in college and (now) it’s become a possibility.”

And so is maintaining a streak of individual state titles for Oakland County cross country athletes, who’ve taken top honors since 2006. Milford’s Carly Green won that year and Waterford Mott’s Shannon Osika (2007), Rochester’s Megan Goethals (2008-09), Rochester’s Brook Handler (2010), West Bloomfield’s Erin Finn (2011-12) and Belf (2013) have followed.

But Belf wants more. “I want to help my team win the state championship ... but most of all have fun and help my team improve their performances,” said Belf.

And that’s worth an extra bowl of Coco Crispies which, judging by he performances, could be the next breakfast of champions.

Last Updated: 9/18/2014 12:02:41 PM EST