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Girls cross country: Ann Arbor Pioneer legs out second straight Division 1 title

Eric Coughlin
The Detroit News

When Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country runner Sarah Forsyth got a bad cut on her foot in a river this summer, coach Nancy Boudreau thought she had lost one of the best runners in the state on what was supposed to be a state-championship-caliber team.

Luckily for Boudreau, she had another Forsyth.

On Friday at Michigan International Speedway, Ann Arbor Pioneer won its second-straight Division 1 championship, with freshman Rachel Forsyth (17:55.6), little sister to Sarah, hanging on to win her heat and propel her team to a 129-168 victory over runner-up Traverse City Central.

“Rachel (Forsyth) only lost one race this season, and it was because she was sick,” Boudreau said. “But we really didn’t know how good she was because we haven’t raced against a lot of the top teams in the state because of COVID. This race wasn’t what I thought would happen. Comparing times going into it, we weren’t close to Traverse City (Central). We just told the girls to run as well as they could, didn’t have many expectations.”

Sarah’s season didn’t end when she sliced her foot, though.

After a lengthy rehab, Sarah was able to start racing recently. The state meet was only the junior’s fourth race of the season, but she managed 44th overall (19:22.88), third on her team, scoring valuable points to contribute to Pioneer’s 5th state title.

“It was huge for her (Sarah) to get to this level by the state meet,” Boudreau said. “She worked incredibly hard. She did a great amount of working out, even when it couldn’t be running, to stay in shape. She didn’t even start running on it until September.”

Rounding out Pioneer’s scorers were junior Cookie Baugh (18:10.78), junior Charlotte Batra (19:47.28) and sophomore Emily Cooper (20:04.36).

Due to COVID-19, each division was split into two heats to limit the size of races.

Birmingham Groves senior Audrey DaDamio (17:46.07) won the first heat and overall crown.

Division 2

Petoskey barely won over runner-up East Grand Rapids, 68-79, placing senior Emma Squires first overall (14:54.56), then putting four more runners in the top-36.

Mason’s Meghan Ford (18:18.08) was second, with Grand Rapids Christian’s Madelyn Frens (18:22.07) following in third.

Grand Rapids Christian (143) was third and Cadillac (206) was fourth.

Chelsea (272) was seventh, paced by freshman Trilian Krug (19:58.05) who was 40th overall.