Fastest state final ever

South girls cross country finishes as state runner-up; Liggett and North also represented at state finals

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 8, 2012

 Pictured is Grosse Pointe South’s Hannah Meier running at a regional meet Oct. 26. Meier took second place among Division 1 girls at the state meet Nov. 3.

Pictured is Grosse Pointe South’s Hannah Meier running at a regional meet Oct. 26. Meier took second place among Division 1 girls at the state meet Nov. 3.

Photo by David Schreiber

The Grosse Pointe South girls cross country team had another strong close to their season, finishing in second place in the Division 1 race at the state finals, which took place Nov. 3 in Brooklyn.

The Blue Devils finished with a score of 88 points, behind first-place Birmingham Seaholm’s 69 points. Saline took third place with 101 points.

Although South entered the meet with a goal of defending its state title, coach Steve Zaranek said his team ran even better this time around.

“It’s the finest state final we’ve ever had, including last year when we were state champs,” he said. “Our times were faster. It just really came down to that there were three teams in the state that are at the national level — just incredible teams. The score we had on any given year would equally win that meet. Seaholm was most deserving of the win. They were that good.”

In fact, the top three teams were so good that their combined scores were lower than the score of 244 posted by Traverse City Central, the team that finished in fourth place.

Hannah Meier’s time of 17 minutes, 34.5 seconds was good for second place among Division 1 girls. Ersula Farrow took eighth place with a time of 18:05.3.

Kelsie Schwartz (18:22.9), Haley Meier (18:32.5), Mary Spencer (18:56.8), Christina Firl (19:05.8) and Megan Sklarski (19:07.4) round out South’s top runners at the meet.

The state finals represented the last cross country meet in a South uniform for the Meier twins. Zaranek appreciates the contributions they have made to the program.

“Hannah and Haley have been the cornerstone of our program for four years,” he said. “They’re involved in multiple state records (and) all kinds of school records. They’re nationally ranked runners every year. They have raised the standard for our team so high that it’s pulled so many of our other runners up to brand new levels. They’ve created that environment on our team that, basically, anything’s possible.

“It’s been a wonderful experience working with them over the years, and fortunately, we have another track season to go, and we’ve won the last two track (Division 1) titles, and we’re absolutely going for a third.”

Although losing runners of the caliber of the Meier twins won’t be easy to overcome, Zaranek believes South’s roster is deep enough to come back strong. Four of the Blue Devils’ top seven runners will be returning next season, which helps give Zaranek an optimistic outlook regarding the state of his program.

“Our future’s absolutely bright,” he said. “We may not be in contention to win a state title, but with all confidence, we’re going to be there right in the thick of it again next year. A lot of excellent junior varsity runners, so the future looks really bright, and we look forward to that challenge again next year.”

In other state final news:
Grosse Pointe South’s boys team finished in 27th place in the Division 1 race. South was represented by Bradley Sanford (16:42.8), Zachary Montgomery (16:50), Matt Geist (17:00.6), Jacob Knuth (17:00.8), Nicholas Debrunner (17:03.2), Michael Gates (17:29.1) and Charles Warren (18:03.4).

Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett’s boys team took 24th place in the Division 4 race. Kevin Allen (17:47.1), Alexander Minavov (18:25), William Gilbert (18:32.3), William Loner (19:36.5), Joseph Renzi (21:05), Connor Borrego (21:49.6) and Patrick Bernas (23:07) ran for the Knights.

Liggett’s girls team finished in 26th place in its Division 4 race. Lining up for the Knights were Danielle Lorant (21:44.7) Madison Jerome (22:16.1), Haleigh Ristovski (22:44.3), Taylor Slayton (25:04.4), Hannah Hodges (26:24.4) and Amy Jachim (30:35.4).

Although neither Grosse Pointe North boys or girls team qualified for the state finals, Daniel Ciaravino and Allison Francis earned the opportunity to compete as individuals following regionals. Ciaravino had a time of 16:27.7, while Francis finished in 19:43.8.