BROOKLYN, Mich. – Breckenridge junior Kirsten Olling wanted to make sure no one had any designs on taking her title away from her at Saturday’s MHSAA Lower Peninsula Final Girls Division 4 race at Michigan International Speedway.
So she zipped out to a 5:31 first mile, already leading by 12 seconds. “Yeah, my coach said I ran the first 800 in 2:30,” she said with a rueful smile. “I can’t even do that in track.”
But in the end, Olling reached a few of her goals, namely winning for the third straight year in D4 and finally going under 18:00 at MIS. Her 17:59.6 was just over three seconds better than her 18:02.7 winner in 2011.
“It wasn’t my best this year, or a PR, but I’m still really happy with it,” she said.
Olling has joined 11 other 3-time champions in the MHSAA girls’ XC record book. Four other girls have executed a career sweep, with Katie Boyles being the most recent in D1/Class A from 1997-2000. Olling can join that group in 2013 as a senior.
Like D1 repeat champ Erin Finn, Olling struggled with iron deficiency problems this year. According to secondhalf.mhsaa.com, she was diagnosed three weeks before state and has used supplements and an improved diet to get her performances back on track. “A lot of coaches thought I had (an iron deficiency) at the beginning of the year, but nobody really said anything,” she told Bill Kahn. “They just figured I was having bad days.”
Traverse City St. Francis frosh Holly Bullough, who was a 20:34 runner at the beginning of the season, ran 18:31.7 for second in her first state meet. Another frosh, Tessa Fornari of Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, was third in 18:38.8. Blanchard-Montabella junior Taylor Smith, fifth in 2011, moved up a spot with her 18:54.7 in fourth.
In the team battle, D4 #5Homer won for the first time, scoring 118 points to 142 for #2 Bear Lake. Sisters Jessica (scoring 6th) and Amanda Reagle (18th), a sophomore and junior, were Homer’s first and third finishers with soph Bailey Manis (15th) in-between. Homer had finished sixth last year, its previous best state finish.
“Going into it I thought we’d be the second to fourth team,” Homer Coach Rebecca Willis told Rich McGowan at mlive.com. “We’re really excited about today. It’s been a couple years in the works and probably a couple years before when I thought it was going to happen.”
#1 Harbor Springs was third with 157, its first year back in D4 after a few years in D3, and 2011 champ Hesperia was 11th.