On Friday, November 6, the Girls’ Varsity Cross Country team and two members of the boys team ran at the state championship. After competing at the Allendale regional meet, the girls placed second, earning their expected position at the state meet. The boys’ varsity team, expected beforehand to have a tough battle at states, missed the qualification by a single point.
Ella Bowen (21’) explained how the girls’ team “has been one of our best competitively.” She describes the team as having “a lot of really fast girls,” which allows the team to “push each other a lot harder because we all run in a pack.” She is very proud of the team, and especially loves hearing spectators on the sidelines say, “here comes Eastern, they’re really good.” The girls’ team finished states in 9th place of 27 teams.
While the boys team did not qualify for states, two of their runners, Ben Clason (21’) and Aiden Sullivan (23’) qualified to compete individually. Bowen described Clason as “the quiet little rock of our team,” and added that along with being “an amazing athlete” he’s also “a great person as well.” At states, Clason won his Division II race, finishing 6th in the state overall. Sullivan finished 38th.
Cross Country teams all over the state of Michigan have had a season like never before. “Races have been smaller and many of the invitationals were canceled,” said Clason. “There was even a race where we had to wear a mask while we ran.”
Despite all the differences, one factor encouraging students to join the cross country team remained the same: the superb coaching. Bowen admitted that she initially joined the team because she thought, “Alyssa was SO cool” and “so is (Mr.) Mac!” As she grew as a runner and a teammate, she learned how “[hard] they’ve worked… to create a community that feels more like a big friend group rather than athletes and coaches.” Beyond that, the runners’ passion goes beyond running. “I think most of us fall in love with the environment way before we fall in love with the sport,” said Bowen. “It’s what gets us to stick around.”