Waterford Mott cross country coach Ryan Robinson thought his runners could have done better at the Nike Midwest Cross Country Regional Sunday in Terre Haute, Ind., but that turned out to be the least of his worries.
The tornadoes and stormy weather which raked Illinois and Indiana nearly threatened hundreds of participants and spectators at the meet, which was contested more than an hour earlier than scheduled because of the forecast.
“They let us know the night before so we could prepare,” Robinson said, “(and) I was really glad they made the adjustment when they did because that could’ve been very dangerous.”
Indeed, during the awards ceremony that afternoon, dozens of cell phones went off from storm warnings, according to Robinson. “We were headed out of the parking lot and it just started raining sideways,” he said. “Fifteen or 20 miles south of us there were tornadoes. We just got on the highway and started driving. It was a white knuckler.”
All the way back to Michigan, blustery weather rocked the van. “It was blowing people ... (and) trucks were pulled over,” said Robinson, who was relieved upon safe arrival late Sunday night.
As for the race, things could’ve gone better for the Mott contingent, who ran under the name, “Corsairs Running,” to abide by MHSAA restrictions on competitions outside of its jurisdiction. “I thought we were back up emotionally, but we came up flat,” Robinson said of his group, which finished second at the MHSAA state finals earlier this month to KLAA rival Milford.
Nearly 350 runners from Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri were in the boys championship race alone on a course soaked by a pouring rain the previous day.
“We got out (well), I wanted seven in the top 50,” Robinson said, “and then we started going backwards.”
That included the coach’s son, Ryan Robinson Jr., who was among the leaders much of the race. “He was in second or third most of the way,” Robinson said. “He looked like he was going to win the thing and then he dropped back and finished in eighth place. He got into this wind and it just knocked him down.”
Only the top two teams automatically qualify for the Nike national meet next month in Oregon and Corsairs Running placed 19th out of 41 teams. The top six individuals qualified for nationals and Robinson just missed a spot. He clocked 16:25 for the 5K course, 14 seconds behind the second-place finisher. Evan Stifle won in 16:03.
“He was pretty disappointed,” Robinson Sr. said, “(and) we did not run up to coach’s expectations. But I think we broke some ice for people in the future.”
Kyler Bush finished 122nd, Sam Albaugh was 125th and Tommy Osika was 187th, and was followed by Luke Peterson (194th).
Troy’s Kunal Tangri placed 43rd in 16:59.
Northville’s girls, who won the Michigan Division 1 state championship Nov. 2, placed fifth overall as Lexa Barrott placed 13th in 1925, Cayla Eckenroth was 34th in 20:05 and Rachel Coleman was 36th in 20:07, followed by Erin Zimmer (64th), who timed 20:28.
Claire Ford (118th) and Natalie Baster (146th), both students at Cranbrook Kingswood, also competed, along with Walled Lake Northern’s Holly Mattson (183rd), who clocked 22:02.