South and Liggett cross country headed to state finals; North qualifies two runners

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published October 31, 2012

 Liggett cross country runner Danielle Lorant, who finished in eighth place at a regional race, and her teammates are headed to the state finals. The boys and girls teams both qualified for the finals.

Liggett cross country runner Danielle Lorant, who finished in eighth place at a regional race, and her teammates are headed to the state finals. The boys and girls teams both qualified for the finals.

Photo by Deb Jacques

The remarkable season the Grosse Pointe South girls cross country team has enjoyed got even better Oct. 26, as the Blue Devils took first place in a Division 1 MHSAA state regional meet.

The Blue Devils finished with 26 points, which according to coach Steve Zaranek is the best in the 34-year history of the program. South hosted the race, which took place at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township.

By finishing in the top three, South, Stevenson (47) and Troy High (97) all qualified for the state finals, which will take place Nov. 3 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.

This season marks the Blue Devils’ 33rd year in a row making it to the finals, which Zaranek said is a state record.

Hannah Meier finished in first place in the girls race with a time of 17 minutes, 16 seconds. Zaranek said in posting that time, Meier broke her own school record by seven seconds. Kelsie Schwartz took second place with a time of 17:37, while teammates Haley Meier (18:33) and Ersula Farrow (18:36), also finished within the top eight.

Zaranek noted that sophomores Mary Spencer (18:39) and Megan Sklarski (18:52) each took over 30 seconds off their personal best times, finishing in ninth and 12th place, respectively.

Zaranek was pleased to come away from a day that saw 71 runners from the Blue Devils’ varsity and JV squads post personal-best times.

“The performance was, without a doubt, the single best meet we’ve ever had,” he said. “It was that good. The girls were just on. We did together as a team what we needed to win that meet and beat a fine Sterling Heights Stevenson team in the process.”

South’s season has included a 15-0 record in dual meets, a Macomb Area Conference Red Division championship and five victories in invitational races. As South gets ready to compete at the state final, Zaranek said one poll has the Blue Devils ranked No. 1 in the state, while another has them at No. 3 behind Saline and Birmingham Seaholm. The National Cross Country Coach’s Association has South ranked as the No. 1 team in the country.

And as South prepares to defend its state title, Zaranek likes the mindset of his team.

“They are very confident right now,” he said. “They are truly teammates. They love one another (and) they work hard for each other. They’re performing at this level for their teammates, their school and their community. And they really put those things first.”

The top three teams from each regional and the top 15 finishers in each race qualify for the finals.

Other local regional results
South’s boys team totaled 92 points and is also headed to the state final after a third-place finish at regionals. Matt Geist led his team after finishing 11th in 16:25.

The boys and girls teams from Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett are also making the trip to Brooklyn after its regional performance at Goodells County Park. The Knights’ girls team finished in second place with a score of 82, while the boys’ score of 90 was good for third.

Kevin Allen finished in ninth place with a time of 18:02 to lead his team; Danielle Lorant paced the girls team with an eighth-place finish after posting 21:18.

According to Liggett boys and girls coach Trey Cassidy, it is the first time in approximately 10 years that both the teams have qualified for the state finals, making for an exciting time for Liggett’s program.

“We’re very excited to have accomplished that primary goal, which is to get both teams to the state championships,” he said. “They pulled it together and made it happen. We’re pleased with their effort and what happened. It was a beautiful day for all of us.”

The North girls team also ran at Lake St. Clair Metropark and finished in fourth place (114), just one spot shy of qualifying for the finals. Individually, Allison Fancis’ 14th-place finish earned her a spot in the final to represent the Norsemen.

North’s boys team had a score of 197, finishing in sixth place. Daniel Ciarvino will represent North at the state final, as his time of 16:21 was good for eighth place.