Last Saturday, November 6th, the 2021 cross-country state championship race marked the end of the fall running season. Held at the Michigan International Speedway, top runners from all across the state arrived to compete in their final race of the year. Eight runners from Forest Hills Eastern earned their spot in Saturday’s race, and the rest of the team traveled to the raceway to cheer on their teammates.
More than a last hurrah, the state meet is a show of everyone’s commitment to the team. On Saturday, alternates and junior varsity teammates alike gathered to watch the race. The support from the whole team highlighted the importance of togetherness. While watching the race, teammates ran around to find the best places to yell their encouragement. The spectating teammates ended things off by watching all the runners in the final stretch. The feeling of crossing the finish line is like no other, and the spectators shared the experience as they watched their team.
The results are in! The women’s team climbed up in the ranks as they ended their season by placing 4th in their division with 179 points. Four of the runners placed within the top 50, Sarah Dixon (’23) finished 21st, Ashlyn Smith (’24) finished 40th, Addison Washler (’24) finished 45th, and Ellory Clason (’23) finished 49th. Aiden Sullivan (’23) represented the men’s varsity team and was the 20th finisher of Saturday’s race.
Support from the entire team wasn’t possible last year because of Covid, but Sarah Dixon (’23) emphasized that “the whole team was there, and there were crowds of people, unlike last year where almost nobody could come.” Along with the support from their team, the state runners spray-painted their shoes and wore matching zip-ups, boosting the team’s morale.
Coach Daniel McElheny told me how proud he is of his team and their performance during the season. “They did so well because they had grit and were motivated. They really worked for it,” he said. He also made it a point to say that these runners worked hard to get to where they are through continued off season running and showing up to practices over the summer and fall. Their efforts paid off when the women’s team moved from around top ten all the way to fourth in their division after finishing their state meet.
Though the season is officially over, runners are actively preparing for next year. Whether working towards a better time for the next season or preparing for track in the spring, the running certainly isn’t finished. It’s never too late to join the cross country or track and field team at Eastern. In fact, now is the perfect time to start, with winter training beginning on November 29th, so don’t be afraid to try it out!