With a big race against six of the state’s top teams Saturday, coach Mike Smith asked his Saline girls cross country team to take it a little slower and run as a pack at Munson Park in Monroe Thursday.
Even following Smith’s directions to a tee, the Lady Hornets still ran away with the second SEC Red Jamboree of the season, finishing with 20 points, 30 points better than second place Ann Arbor Huron. Saline has won both jamborees and are on pace for their 17th straight league title.
“I told the girls I wanted them to take it easy and run in a tight pack, but to still win the race,” Smith said. “I gave them marks to hit and they hit them all. They couldn’t have done it any better.
It’s a good thing for Huron’s Alexandria Cell that she got in front of Saline’s pack. Cell, who finished first, would have had a hard time trying to pass the convoy of Hornets who took up the width of the track and finished 2nd through 8th.
Alyssa Cummings, Gloria Park, Lauren Green, Gillian Walter, Elianna Shwayder and Abby Rentscher finished 2nd through eighth with just 1.5 seconds separating the group (19:41.5 to 19:43.0). Lillie Phelps (9th, 19:53), Kelly Hall (11th, 19:57) and Haleigh Cummings (12th, 20:11.2) weren’t far behind.
Smith asked about the luxury of being able to win a league jamboree even when holding back.
“It’s a testament to how good these girls are and how hard they work. This is quite possibly the best team I’ve ever coached,” Smith said.
Saline owned the junior varsity meet, too, taking the top 14 spots and 20 of the top 21 spots. Junior Jenny Kise won the race in 20:19. Mara VanSickle, Lindsay Walter, Katie Fedoronko, Emily Reyst, Alexa Reyst, Kristin Green, Danielle Fillmore, Emily Diehl and Brittany Nagel were the top 10 over the finish line.
The Coaching Legends Classic takes place Saturday at Huron Meadows Metropark. The varsity girls run at 10 a.m. and junior varsity girls race at 11 a.m.