By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Oxford Hills Country Club hosted the 1980 Lower Peninsula Class B Cross Country Finals on what had to be a chilly day, considering the heavy coats and winter gloves worn by spectators in the photos above and below taken during the races that day.
A little cool in the air isn’t unusual for this annual championship event. But there was a little change in the air as well on this day, as it was the first MHSAA Finals ran at the current race length of five kilometers (3.1 miles).
Brighton’s Pat Hamparian ran the fastest girls time of the 1980 Finals, 17:54.2 – which remained the fourth-fastest 5K time in LP Class A Finals history when those records were retired with the move from classes to divisions in 2000. Mount Clemens’ Bill Brady ran the fastest boys time of 15:07, also in Class A. His time remained the third-fastest 5K time in LP Class A Finals history when the records were retired.
There were plenty of differences too from the meets that will take place this season Oct. 24 in the Upper Peninsula and Nov. 7 in the Lower Peninsula.
From 1961-96 for the boys and 1979-96 for the girls (girls cross country at the MHSAA tournament level began with just one open class Final in 1978), MHSAA individual championships were awarded separately to the first-place finishers among both team and individual qualifiers. Also, while all three 1980 Upper Peninsula Finals were run at Gladstone, the four Lower Peninsula Finals were run at multiple sites, one class at each.
Flint Kearsley, Caro, Concord, Kingsley, Marquette, Ishpeming Westwood and Norway won MHSAA boys team championships in 1980. Brighton, Livonia Ladywood, Williamston, Ann Arbor Greenhills, Marquette and Ishpeming won girls titles (there was one fewer girls race, with Class C-D U.P. teams in one class rather than two for that sport).
PHOTOS: (Top) Livonia Ladywood’s Kelly Champagne crosses the finish line to finish first among team racers at the LP Class B Final in 1980; her time was 18:37.1. (Middle) Cadillac’s Mark Smith finished first among team racers in the boys race with a time of 15:25.5.